CyberSpace : A Good Time to Expand into Commercial Projects
Here are the basics you’ll need to succeedFebruary 2012 By Caleb Yaryan, Chief Technology Officer, Certified Cyber Solutions
I find it ironic that if someone had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I could never have told them the job that I am in now. None of the technology that my company is based on existed when I was a child. As I watch my two-year-old son playing with my iPad, the same thought occurs to me. I have previously written an article about the rapid growth of technology in general and how that relates to our industry, but I find myself looking more and more at the commercial AV market and how it is a glimpse into the near future of the residential integration industry.
I recently took part in a content development workshop with InfoComm International focused networking in AV systems. Every time I do something with InfoComm I come away impressed with their overall professionalism and approach to the market. Commercial AV integration is a big business and it is one that the residential market needs to learn from and take advantage of.
People Are Your Most Valuable Asset
Technology that is hot today will be replaced by something better tomorrow, but the team of people you have to install and support these technologies will hopefully be around for a long time and are a key factor in being able to work on larger-scale commercial projects. You need to make sure these people are properly trained. Training is a process, not a one-time event.
Many companies do a good job of training new people as they come in but then never go back and properly train their existing staff on new technologies. I taught a network monitoring class at this past CEDIA EXPO and was overwhelmed with the eagerness of the audience to learn about this new area. It is cheaper in the long term to invest in your team than to bring in outsiders to obtain specific skill sets. This might not always be possible or plausible, but in general is a good practice.
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.
I can't tell you what my son will be when he grows up any more than I can tell you what the biggest technology will be two years from now, but I can tell you that if you focus on your people, scalability and IT integration, you are putting yourselves in the best place for a prosperous future and an entry into the commercial AV marketplace. CR