The AV world is flattening. As corporations grow globally, enterprises are relying heavily on integrators to design AV systems that can be similarly deployed in every location worldwide—delivering a specific user experience and bridging employees and other customers separated by distance. This proliferation of technology is also introducing a need for a logarithmic that can address system service and support requirements. In response, integration firms are also growing, making the U.S. a key region for international powerhouse integration firms. But it’s also highlighting the need for a deeper relationship at the manufacturer level. By partnering with manufacturers, these integration firms can deliver on system standardization, support ongoing AV service and maintenance needs, and, ultimately, strengthen worldwide sales objectives.
System standardization certainly isn’t a new concept for the industry. For years, integrators and some manufacturers have supported it. However, for installations located overseas, it was up to regional experts to decide what part of an original design was executed. As a result, AV was fragmented and, more often than not, was customized based on the region.
In recent years, however, international AV systems standards have been introduced. This is making it easier for manufacturers to produce solutions that are just as applicable in North America as they are in other countries. With these standards in place and deepening their relationship with these manufacturers, integrators can find universal solutions and prevent companies from making exception after exception to the design of their AV systems.
When enterprises can truly implement a global standard, it also opens up the opportunity for enterprise customers to invest in their own in-house integration team. This group of IT managers, AV technicians, and other technology staff can save time and money as they are able to troubleshoot why a particular component isn’t turning on, or if a cable is disconnected, or if it needs a reboot. But if components vary from region to region, a company’s in-house support staff is unable offer that kind of support. Enforcement of the system design at the AV level allows companies to expand their remote service and support to solve these problems, improving uptime and productivity and creating a positive experience for their employees.
One Stop, More Value
Selecting both manufacturers and logistics providers that are worldwide partners—and building local installation and service delivery relationships—is paramount for standardization. Integrators no longer need partners for just transactions—buying products and delivering them; they need to be able to rely on them when they need support. For example, if there’s an issue in Germany, the client will want to be able to have the same response that was provided to a location in Wisconsin.
Historically, there was a time when many integration firms didn't necessarily care if they had 45 vendors or a thousand vendors because they had one conference room in one location to design and install; now a firm could land a contract for 25,000 meeting rooms peppered around the world. It’s introduced a new economy of scale where integrators need a one-stop shop with global manufacturing partners that can be counted on to help them get the job done no matter the location. These manufacturers can be strategic partners that can provide product, service, and technical resources, such as design drawing or options for relevant safety standards, and other criteria that integrators may be evaluating based on the category.
Even customers are getting more interested in an integration firm’s partnerships because they too don’t want to deal with multiple vendors if something goes wrong. For example, if every part of a conference room infrastructure is specified from one manufacturer, only one call has to be made instead of six different vendors if something is out of stock or needs to be serviced. It adds further value when customers and integrators can pick a partner that offers worldwide services and can deliver a multi-brand, multi-product category and with experts in any region. They’re in the same time zone, can speak the same language, understand regional requirements, and offer a greater inventory support.
Global Partners Eliminate Roadblocks
Systems enforcement has greater impact when companies are behind specifying the technology they want in place. However, with solutions and systems being installed into more nonstandard spaces and a multitude of room and furniture configurations as well as the different power requirements, certifications, and safety standards per each country, it can be difficult for integrators to nail down solutions that will allow integrators to the finish installation to customer specifications.
At the channel level and for most manufacturers, it is tough to be truly global. From logistical perspective, a company can have several locations within many countries, but it’s impossible to have representatives in every country. Global vendor and manufacturer partnerships can ensure that the products and solutions that are selected on a standard are actually available globally, provide support in the countries where they have larger operations, as well as provide references to other partners in the region. In this way, they become a conduit for the channel, allowing integrators to develop the relationships that will allow them to offer and successfully install standardized systems.
Global integration firms have been leveraging vendors, buying groups, and alliances as partners not only to secure the local products and services that they need but also to have logistical allies. Historically, integration companies have relied on global distributors to coordinate large-scale rollouts. Because it can be complicated to put together the channel to deliver on standardized requirements, these partners can help them work through local integration challenges. Many integrators are actively developing and strengthening those relationships. This has brought to fruition partner programs that use tried-and-true solutions across key AV categories, unlocking better value for their customers and better service packages for the design team.
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AVIXA’s 2018 AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis Global Summary forecasts that the global AV integration industry will grow from about $186 billion this year to $230 billion in 2023. As companies expand and spend more time determining how best to help their employees work and interact, they’re zeroing in on meeting spaces designed around that vision. But in order to drive a specific experience for everyone and cultivate a definitive company behavior and culture, the technology, setup, management, and operation has to be consistent from room to room, from building to building, and country to country. Most companies have only just begun to identify that the expense and down time is a result of having disparate setups in each location.
Manufacturer partners are responding with their own investments in growth that will help deliver solutions that have mass appeal regardless of the region and strengthening service and support options that will help integrator successfully drive the formalized adoption of global standardization.