Name: Brooks Swift
Words of Wisdom: “It is not that hard to become more profitable and efficient when you have the right tools.”
SCN: At what point did you realize you were destined for a career in technology?
Brooks Swift: Technology has been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. It is intriguing, complicated, fascinating, beautiful, and terrifying all at the same time. This industry evolves every day, expanding in both concept and reality. The intrinsic complications of the industry require extreme flexibility, agility, and creativity to effectively monitor and maintain—much less grow—a successful operation. I love this challenge and I always have; so I have to say there was never any other direction for me to go.
SCN: You previously owned an integration company. How did that experience lead you down the path of programming and software development?
BS: I had the opportunity to watch a business blossom despite the odds. I learned firsthand what it is like to start an AV business, expand into new markets, open new shops, merge companies together, and try to manage all of that with a disconnected toolset that had no integration whatsoever. Running an AV business is hard enough when you have the best possible tools; I had to experience how hard it is with no tools. This allowed me to see the revenue lost through disconnects between customer and the company, allowed me to identify the time lost and mistakes caused by duplicate data entry, and made me find ways to deal with the scheduling nightmares caused by of a lack of streamlined communication between the field and the office. It really helped me identify gaps in the “status-quo workflow” and helped me envision a more profitable and efficient way of running an AV business, which lead to the development of iPoint.
SCN: You founded iPoint in 2013 out of frustration in the project management software solutions available at the time. How has the platform evolved organically, and how has your vision for it evolved in effect?
BS: iPoint was originally intended to be a project management platform that would encapsulate the project management portion of running an AV business. We were lucky enough to get very supportive partners right off the bat, partners who communicated very well with us and were not afraid to ask for things—even if they seemed impossible. It is only because of open communication between our company and our community that iPoint has become what it is today.
iPoint is a wishlist of features requested by the nation’s most successful integrators. For example, when you create a project management platform, it is only natural that it should also integrate seamlessly with your billing and accounting system. Then, of course, it would make sense for your billing system to integrate with your ordering system to streamline data entry into QuickBooks. Line-for-line integration with the desktop and online versions of QuickBooks, with system support for multiple classes and locations for both invoicing and inventory management would also be a nice addition. Now it’s starting to sound like a platform instead of just a system, right?
Being able to automatically allocate material to a customer job upon receipt would streamline the sales process and reduce selling items you don’t really have. The ability to remove products from one job and add them to a different job (and automatically put the item you removed on a reorder list) when you do oversell material is also a requirement. The struggle is real, and so is the solution. It is not that hard to become more profitable and efficient when you have the right tools. We want to help partner businesses run so well that it almost feels like they’re cheating. All that evolved from my intention to just create a project management solution originally. That’s what I call organic growth.
SCN: What is it about the IoT and cloud that you see shaping the future of the integration business beyond how it already has today? Where do you see iPoint fitting in today and in the future?
BS: The IoT is a mass introduction to what we do every day. As consumer technology continues to influence professional AV, we’re seeing other markets explore how to get the same automation and control experiences and benefits that they’re used to at home in the professional environment. We’re seeing an increasing demand to automate routine yet critical tasks. For example, there’s the same demand for a system to seamlessly turn down the lights and close the blinds as there is to turn on a projector or display, or launch a conference call. Along with that is the demand for service and maintenance.
IoT is a huge opportunity for our industry if you are equipped with the right tools to capitalize on it. A platform like iPoint Control provides you the template to capture all of the data needed to service any application remotely without rolling a truck. This capability adds value to the customer, becomes a marketable service to the integrator, and creates more of a demand for us because as the industry changes, so does iPoint.
SCN: Fill in the blanks…
The best advice I ever received was… If you are going to do it, do it now.
The biggest time waster is… duplicate data entry.
Business management is to reoccurring revenue as… chlorine is to a swimming pool.