How Today's AV Leaders are Redefining the Industry

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It all started one Christmas morning with a Tandy RadioShack computer. This plastic and metal box with its floppy-disk drive became the impetus for tinkering in the mind of a young David Labuskes. InfoComm’s executive director tossed out this personal throwback at November’s AV Executive Conference as a metaphor for the heritage of leadership and innovation in the audiovisual business.

He fondly recalled the sense of wonder it gave him. “All of you can remember the first time you opened a gadget like my Tandy RadioShack computer,” he asserted to widespread nods and under-the-breath chuckles.

It gave Labuskes the impulse to wonder and tinker—the same propulsion, he pinpointed, that led Crestron founder George Feldstein to figure out how to open his garage easier. “The legacy of our industry is about that wonder… about creating experiences.”

For Labuskes, it’s a strategic concept he’s using to define what success means to lead the flagship audiovisual industry association into the next generation. Delineating the metrics for success was also front-and-center as we carefully scanned the industry for various different types of leaders to honor in SCN’s Hall of Fame this year, which of course, the aforementioned Feldstein is already a venerable member of.

The Hall of Fame members continue to give us pause to contemplate our roles in today’s unique technology space. Recently, Hall of Famer Scott Walker has done just that with a fascinating acquisition of his firm, Waveguide, by a global hospitality company, detailed here. On the heels of that, another previous Hall of Famer, John Greene, offered up some compelling statements on an AVNation podcast about the implications of Walker’s significant move. Greene has been hearing about how “the AV world is not ready for the amount of work that is coming,” and how we’re not technically prepared or staffed to meet that demand. It is precisely this for which Waveguide’s new parent company, Compass Group USA, is preparing. As Greene stated, “The fact of the matter is that AV and unified communications is something that Compass has to deliver. If it doesn’t have the crew, it has to partner with it or source it out.”

While Greene acknowledges that Labuskes’ assertion for the need to provide wonder has an important place, the majority of AV customers today are also demanding a standardization of easy to use, easy to replicate by the hundreds, communication spaces.

We’ve come a long way from Labuskes’ delight with the Tandy RadioShack computer and from Feldstein’s automated garage, yet these legacies endure with today’s pioneers in AV charting an exciting course to the future—one where both AV wonder and ubiquity promise great potential.

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