SCN Hall of Fame 2020: Paul Zielie

Some people make an impression. Then there’s Paul Zielie, consulting solutions architect at AVCoIP, a titan of AV/IT expertise. There’s no name that carries more integrity. If you’ve had a discussion with him, you’ve experienced his unique perspective and probably marveled at his capacious mind tackling complex problems from multiple angles.

Zielie is passionate about AV, IT, control, workflow, and methodologies, and he strives to make connections to help tech stakeholders understand the bigger picture, free of illusory buzz or industry hype.

Trusted Mentor, Author, and Advisor

Paul Ziele

Zielie’s incisive mind is impressive, but what makes him truly exceptional is his generosity and dedication to mentorship and accurate industry reporting. For the past 20 years, he has guided engineers, designers, journalists, and media professionals to a more nuanced understanding of AV and IT. Zielie is willing to help anyone who wants to learn the intricacies of the most complex topics in this ever-morphing industry.

In addition to his day job and a continuing quest for outstanding craft beer, Zielie is a volunteer faculty member with AVIXA, for which he has written coursework and taught many classes. Zielie recently delivered a webinar for AVIXA, “Scaling Video Distribution over Ethernet Networks.” His extraordinary commitment to education was recognized in 2015 with AVIXA’s Educator of the Year Award.

Zielie said he teaches because, “first, this is a very underserved community in a rapidly changing field, and second, because I derive a great deal of benefit from the students asking questions. I’m learning from the students because there’s a vast field of experience out there.”

Rooted in IT and AV

Even with his engineering acumen, Zielie is pragmatic. “I believe that technology should act in service of a business goal—not an end in itself,” he said.

While in school, Zielie worked on the technical side of his college radio station, building studios and operating production equipment. He parlayed that experience into IT work after college, when IT was “a really new career field,” he reflected.

During the 1990s, while working for Raytheon, Zielie was sent to Washington, D.C., to evaluate an IT contract and select the vendor. “It turned out that they had put me in charge, and my first pro AV gig was a $2 million integration,” he said. He spent the next six years building command and control facilities all over the world. “Because of my IT background, I also took over designing and implementing VTC infrastructure, which led me to my specialty in unified communication,” he added.

Zielie became known to the AV industry during his tenure at AMX, Harman International as the manager of enterprise solutions.

Today, through his company AVCoIP, Zielie consults with AV manufacturers to bring their overall product portfolio into compliance with current IT standards and practices. “I specialize in problems concerning security, scalability, operational maintainability, and interoperability,” he noted.

Challenges Ahead

Zielie has been an instrumental force in turning the industry’s attention to the most critical issues of our day: security, data and AV, and AVaaS.

He views networked AV security—or lack thereof—as the most pressing problem facing the industry. “And that’s a tough thing,” he argued, “because security is not a value proposition where I can say, ‘You’re going to save money because this is secure.’”

Zielie added, “The real promise of the AV/IT convergence is to be able to harness the power of the existing network infrastructure and tie into other things,” but that goal cannot be fully realized until security is prioritized.

The AV industry is in its infancy with regard to true convergence with IT, so you can expect to see Zielie on the circuit, educating, consulting, and bringing his signature rigor to industry conversations.

READ MORE: SCN Hall of Fame 2020

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Franklin Pierce University.