The Savant Experience
The commercial strategy of one major manufacturer focuses on growth for its dealersJanuary 2011 By Nancy Klosek
Besides iPads in-wall and on desktops with docking stations in the Commercial Center, we also have two models—19.5- and 25-inch—of our Touch TVs, which are TVs that add a touch panel from which you can manage a number of different video sources, or view a station before you actually play the source. Those are in the sports bar area.
CR: Have you added any embellishments to the facility since it opened? If so, what are they?
Spinner: In the hotel room we're now showcasing one of the launches from CEDIA—our IPBX telephone system, so you can make calls through the iPad, either to the front desk or to the outside. That's slated for Q1 release. That's been a big hit.
We have also had a number of integrators who want to demonstrate digital signage capabilities to commercial clients. With our solution, we've been able to create specific digital signage to accommodate certain enterprise solutions. As an example, we have a digital signage gallery, and if the client wanted to show Twitter feeds at the bottom, we can set it up to do that. Or if a sporting company wanted to show key sports stats at the bottom, that can be quickly and easily put up. Switching out digital signage scenes can be done seamlessly, with the press of a button.
CR: What do integrators say impresses them most about the Commercial Experience Center? Of the executive boardroom, sports bar and hotel suite, which vignette gets the most attention?
Spinner: At first glance, when people are sitting in the sports bar, they don't feel as though they're in a showroom. But I'd say the whole Center flows easily from room to room. When you're in each separate section, you feel as though you're in the actual environment. We can very easily show in the Center how quickly we can achieve HDMI switching, or "handshaking." In the corporate world, that's become very important to companies, right along with digital signage.
CR: How often do you hold classes, and what subjects have been developed for the curriculum?
Spinner: Savant is a new player in the commercial world. We've had some installations and we're going to focus more on that market in 2011. Initially, we're showing how our solutions differ. One of the key points we're trying to make—and again, I use the example of universities, where there are a hundred classrooms—is that we can help in managing technology through our Blueprint software configuration tool. With Blueprint, we're offering a very repeatable model where you can build custom classrooms quickly and easily and have them managed by one person. It's a very scalable solution. If you're a large university, you need to look at how many classrooms you can easily and quickly set up, how repeatable the solution is, how low the management costs are and how low-cost it will be to make changes—and the fact that you won't need to hire any third-party programmers. Those are some of the biggest value propositions we offer.
CR: Talk about Savant's iPad integration initiative. How is the iPad fitting into the world of Savant residential installations in particular—and how does it fit into the commercial sector?
Spinner: It's been a homerun on the residential side. We always felt it would be a big success. And we've been pleased to see these commercial enterprises embrace the iPad solution as quickly as they have. It's about the performance and low cost of the device—and also, the performance of our app that controls the Savant system. It is lightning-fast. When they see all of that, the acceptance rate is pretty high. Perhaps, too, these companies already own these devices, making it even more cost-effective, so they may only have to buy a very inexpensive app and then our control boxes or our audio/video switchers, and they have their solution.
CR: Which vendor partners are involved in the Commercial Experience Center—have you added any recently?
Spinner: At this point, our Excellence in AV Partners include Bay Audio, Brightline, BSS by Harman, Chief, Furman, Lutron, Middle Atlantic Products, NuVision, Powerline Control Systems, Panamax, Planar, Runco, Sherbourn, Planet Waves, Séura and Stewart Filmscreen. Our manufacturer contributors include Gefen, Janmar Lighting, InFocus, Lynk Labs, Semper Fi Power Supply, Innovative Glass and WolfVision.
CR: What else can you add about the thinking behind the whole Commercial Design Center concept?
Spinner: The dual-center concept—having a Commercial and a Residential Experience Center next to each other with the theater a shared space—has served us well. The fact that we used Thom Filicia, who designed the residential side, to do the commercial area design, shows that Savant believes that caring about the appearance of enterprise areas, whether they be museums, hotel lobbies or conference rooms, is important. We think that the look and feel of how technology fits into a commercial space is as crucial on the commercial side as on the residential side. It needs to be high quality, and we believe we've achieved that look and feel. CR