Before departing for InfoComm’s AV Executive Conference in Scottsdale I asked the question: Are you an egg or a bird?In other words, has your business figured out what the future looks like? Do you know where you are headed and how you are going to get there? Are you ready to fly, or are you still hiding in your warm cozy shell? For most (but I suspect not everybody) the answer was clear; shell existence is not a strategy, you have to hatch, evolve, and fly, otherwise your business, just like an old egg, will start to go bad.
The conference began with Duffy Wilbert presenting InfoComm market data that shows huge growth for AV globally over the next couple of years. You could smell confusion across the floor. "If there is all this amazing growth, why am I not getting my fair share?" vexed many.
Keynote speaker and Paid to Thinkauthor, David Goldsmith provided some clues: “What exactly is the AV industry?” he mused. “You used to do overhead projectors and now you are using Microsoft Lync. Exactly what are you counting in these growth numbers? And with all this consumerization going on, do we count Amazon within the AV market spend?”
After teasing us, Goldsmith threw down the gauntlet to plan the future of our businesses in the same way we plan for your children's. That is, from the day they were born we envisioned how they would be at 21 and did everything in our power to ensure they were happy and successful — now, do that for your business too, before it's too late.
After the wake up call, Dr. Yves Pigneur, co-author of Business Model Generation took one hundred AV industry executives back to school. After several hours of building towers with spaghetti and marshmallows, plastering post-it notes, and learning how Nespresso machines revolutionized our coffee buying behavior, light-bulbs were switching on around the room, and not because it was getting late and we needed a drink. Indeed we had homework to do and thirteen teams disappeared into huddle tents with adult beverages for moral support.
The following day, we heard from industry experts and practioners on how to generate new business models that lead to sustainable and profitable growth. We may think we are special in the world of AV, with unique problems, but we share many of the same issues that other industries far and wide have faced for years. The key lesson: always be innovating and changing.
As the Arizona sun melted into the dusk of InfoComm's second AV Executive Conference, we departed with renewed hope and optimism about our future, and now we had some valuable tools to help our teams build for that future too.
For those needing expert help and support, InfoComm's resident management consultant, David Nour, offered the AV Masters program. Many signed on the dotted line straight away.
I should conclude by answering my own question. Am I an egg or a bird? Well, we are not flying yet, but the egg is hatched, and from where I'm looking the world looks like a pretty wonderful place to be.
Julian Phillips is Executive Vice President of Whitlock.