CyberSpace: A Good Time to Expand into Commercial Projects
Economies of Scale
Sometimes I think we over-emphasis the word "custom" in our names. Many people have made good livings making highly customized systems, but the reality is that most systems are similar and only vary by the scale of the project. The commercial AV/IT market understands this and is at the core of their mindset. Many AV installs in the commercial world are just an order of magnitude larger than typical residential installs—the network itself is often six figures plus. This might sound daunting, but the secret is these are just highly scalable, well-documented systems. Repeatable and scalable systems that can be integrated with other systems easily is the key to your success if you enter the commercial market.
Your Chance to Truly Be the Expert
I have found that another key to success is to specialize in an area so obscure that there are only a few people that even understand what it is that you do. All joking aside, IT people do not typically understand AV systems or their own IT needs as it relates to the entirety of any given large project. You can really be a rock star if you begin to focus on IT within the commercial AV market and how to properly integrate AV and control with IT personnel. Making yourself easy to integrate with will open many doors because you will project a sense of competency that is very attractive not only to IT guys, but whoever is managing the entirety of the scope of work.
How to Get Started
If you have not been to the InfoComm trade show, go. After that you need to begin to understand what is different about the commercial side of AV and how they approach budgets and specific equipment needs. You will need to be able to at least articulate your network needs to a true IT pro, so I would encourage you to begin to look at basic network certifications for your staff. The great news is that there are not many significant differences from a strictly AV side. Control systems are actually easier to program in many commercial installs because they are performing fewer functions. At the end of the day, there is big opportunity that is within your reach.