Embracing Commercial Projects
IT Starts With The Right Digital FoundationFebruary 2012 By Hagai Feiner, CEO, Access Networks
The last three years have been challenging for our industry. The direct impact of the unstable housing market sent shockwaves of uncertainty through the economy and our clientele. Residential projects were cancelled or put on hold and homeowners lost interest as their focus shifted to survival mode. In these challenging times, some integrators have found an opportunity to expand their offering and grow into new markets.
Bryce Nordstrand, owner of Redlands, Calif.-based Frequency, is one of the integrators who made this shift. Five years ago, Nordstrand embraced the changing economy and set to increase his revenue by expanding his clientele to include commercial projects within his local market. With 70 percent of his business now dedicated to commercial projects, it is clear to Nordstrand that what began as a single opportunity has now become a steady success.
"We've had about 40 percent growth because of commercial projects," said Nordstrand. "If we didn't have commercial, we wouldn't be in business."
Nordstrand carries pride in his firm's ability to not only secure commercial projects, but to deliver them on time while exceeding his client's expectations. One such client, SportsWatch Bar & Grill, located in Highland, Calif., holds a special place in Frequency's execution accomplishments. Installed in just eight weeks, this casual yet modern outfit stands out among local bars and restaurants for its smart design and technological prowess. SportsWatch Bar & Grill is among the many businesses who strive to increase their technological offering in order to lure clients, a trend that will likely increase in 2012.
"We've done about five or six jobs for this client, but this is the largest," Nordstrand noted. "It all comes down to being able to offer the right products and solutions, and then coming through on those promises. The promise is to give something really impactful. When you walk in, it's visually overwhelming."
Crafting a Scaleable Solution
SportsWatch Bar & Grill boasts 57 ceiling-mounted flat-panel TVs as well as five projectors, all centrally controlled by a Savant system. Booth seating comes with individual speakers that the customers can change to listen to any channel displayed on the screens above them, and every seat in the house offers a direct line of sight to at least three television screens. All of this relies on a single network that supports the Savant automation system, IP phones, business-critical application infrastructure, corporate Wi-Fi and guest Wi-Fi. For a sports bar in 2012, these HDTVs, booming sound system and speedy Wi-Fi are not only appropriate, but expected. However, bringing this system to life did not come without challenges.
To address the technical challenges involved in commercial work, Frequency called my team in Los Angeles, Calif., to design an enterprise-grade network solution to meet their needs. "We chose Access Networks because they offer redundancy," said Nordstrand. "With Access Networks, if something goes wrong there are still enough access points to keep the automation system working."
Redundancy, or the duplication of a critical element with intention of increasing reliability, is extremely important for commercial projects, as these projects rely on technology to sustain their business. Nordstrand recognizes that with commercial projects there is no room for failure. Nordstrand also recalls being scrutinized by the client's IT department prior to bid approval "The solution we specified was familiar to them, we used the gear they used." For SportsWatch Bar & Grill, a robust and reliable digital foundation means happy customers, and no lost revenue caused by technical issues.
For commercial projects, increasing revenue also relies on the ability to scale. "The client is looking at adding more buildings to this property," said Nordstrand. "A part of the requirement was to be able to easily scale the network and connect other buildings with redundant fiber links. We knew that we could accomplish this with a solution from Access Networks."
For the residential integrator like Frequency, expansion into commercial markets can be a key to growth and a sustainable business model, especially in an uncertain economy. In the epicenter of this transition is the IP network—the digital foundation of any integration project, residential or commercial. Integrators that use their existing skillset to expand into commercial projects must embrace a network solution that allows them to completely support their clients on the path to success. With a solid wired and wireless network strategy in place, integration limits are removed and options for both enjoyment and expansion are limitless.
Nordstrand strongly believes that owning the network is crucial to his success. "We could have bought a bunch of 8-port switches and stuck them in a rack, but how good is that going to be? All devices point to the network, and if you don't have a robust network that can manage traffic, you can't control your devices," he said. "As a retailer in this industry, if you think that you don't have to have a strong network infrastructure now or in the future, you're going to be out of business." CR
Hagai Feiner is CEO of Access Networks, a leading provider of enterprise-grade networking solutions for the custom integration industry. To learn more, visit www.accessca.com and on twitter: @accessnetworks.