Your Opportunity is RIGHT NOW!

They Took Our Jobs!I’m sure you’re all pretty sick of hearing about convergence.  It’s been the buzzword from InfoComm, NSCA and most of our major publications for, oh, the last decade.  IT is coming!  Convergence is upon us! Adapt or die!  The clarion call has been shouted from rooftops, proclaimed in industry classes and discussed endlessly — in roundtables and keynotes and blog upon blog.  To an average integrator, this tintinnabulation has echoed falsely in our everyday work life.  Sure, we meet with more IT guys than general facilities guys these days, and yeah, once in a while an IT firm shows up at an AV project pre-bid, but the wholesale takeover of our industry as predicted has simply not come to pass.  It’s not that big a deal.  Okay, business has slowed some places for integrators, but it’s the economy, right? Things are down all over!

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The Power of Social Media – A true story.

The Power of Social Media – A true story.Y108 (Pittsburgh's Country) Fish Fry banner

Yesterday, I got a very vivid illustration of just how powerful Social Media can be.

I grew up in a very small town in Western PA.  Very small.  Like, 200 houses maximum, small.  The town was settled in the early 1800s by about 25 families, who lingered and intermarried until today when pretty much everyone is related to everyone else somehow… and folks are still known as “that new family” if they’ve only lived in town since the 1970s or so.

Now, this li’l speck on the map doesn’t have its own government – it is, in fact, an unincorporated area that straddles two townships – but it does have a church and a fire department.  The fire department is an all-volunteer service, founded by the town fathers (including my grandfather) in 1942.  And, like many volunteer fire departments in Western PA, Paintertown Volunteer Fire Department holds an annual Fish Fry supper every Friday during Lent.  This town social event serves as a fundraiser for the upkeep of the fire trucks. The volunteer fire fighters, the junior fire fighters and the members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary all work together to cook and serve a variety of delicious dinner options, and everyone who buys a meal also gets a complimentary dessert – homemade cake or pie made and donated by the town mothers (including my mother).  It’s one of those great small town traditions that makes us all long for Grover’s Corners, Bedford Falls and Mayberry.

So what on earth does this have to do with Social Media? 

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Preach It, Brothers and Sisters, Preach It!

Evangelize AV!

The AV industry has existed a very long time now.  Our trade association, Infocomm, itself celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2009.  Yet, despite this long history, and despite the fact that products from our industry are integral to daily life around the world (mics, speakers, TVs, computer monitors, etc), we are still widely unknown and overlooked by many.  It took until the release of MasterFormat2004 before we got a place of our own for AV specs in construction documents. There are still no AV Design Engineer or AV Installer degree programs in the United States, possibly the world, and only a few related degree programs out there that are similar – acoustical engineer, communications, broadcast degrees, etc. And, the public at large has no clue what we do, for the most part.  Heck, I’m AVDawn for pity’s sake, yet my own mother thinks I “sell TVs or something like that.”  (Bless her heart!)

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10 Years Later – OH C’MON! Did You Not Get the Memo??

As an AV pro and a social media enthusiast, I tend to keep an eye on the Twitterverse throughout my day. We’ve developed quite the community of AV professionals on that platform, and you never know when something profound, beneficial or earth-shattering will come across the Twitterfeed that can impact our businesses – a link to an article, research, video or even just a statement that resonates. A couple of weeks ago, one such statement came across my Twitterfeed and it utterly stunned me. With permission from the author, here goes:

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Convergence, Nothing – That’s Commoditization!

IT takes square-aim at the AV Integration market. Enough’s enough!

So, the other evening, I’m sitting at home relaxing with my husband-slash-business partner when he looks up from his laptop with an outraged mien and exclaims, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” (or slightly more profane words to that effect). Of course, I ask, “What’s up?” and he directs me to the Dell website, where, amongst an ever-increasing list of AV products and services being sold by this computer giant, we spied the magic word: Crestron. This morning, a tweet from RAVE news pointed out that CDW, another IT monster, is also selling Crestron… direct to end users… at a single-digit markup. To quote Slim Pickins, “What in the wide wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here??”

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A Crazy, Catch-Up Blog… Edu-rama!

Too much content! GAH!

So, it’s been a million years since I posted last… or at least, it seems that way. In truth, things have been crazy-busy in the life of AVDawn since last we met. Despite the recession, things are hopping at Advanced Video Systems. Every day for the past two weeks, I’ve either been on a site visit, working on proposals or starting the purchasing process for new projects we’ve won. And since our installers have been on job sites non-stop, I’m feeling pretty confident about weathering this downturn… well, at least through July or so. Then again, part of my job is making sure that the streak continues, so – busy, busy bee for me! bzzzzzzzz. ^_^

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Borrowing Brains, Part V of V

5 Tips to Select and Get the Most Out of
Your A/V Design Consultant


Tip #5. Know What You Want the System to Do and Communicate It!

If you learn nothing else from this article, learn this! I cannot stress enough how important communication is in ANY A/V project! You are the client. Without you, there is no need for consultants or integrators! Now, you don’t have to know every technical detail about every component or things like that. That’s why you HIRE a consultant (design or design/build) to begin with… so you don’t NEED to know! However, you should have a general idea of:

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Borrowing Brains, Part IV of V

5 Tips to Select and Get the Most Out of
Your A/V Design Consultant


Tip #4. Consider Design/Build.

If you are in a non-bid or sole-source situation (a.k.a., most non-government jobs), consider pursuing a Design/Build project rather than using a separate consultant and integrator. This will often lead to a smoother, more seamless integration – “Too many cooks…” and all that – as well as providing a cost and productivity savings. With a Design/Build, your chosen A/V Integrator will actually be your consultant in addition to providing and installing your equipment.

 

Borrowing Brains, Part III of V

5 Tips to Select and Get the Most Out of
Your A/V Design Consultant

Tip #3. Ask for References from Customers… and Integrators… and Follow Up!

This is a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually ask for references…or ask for them and never call them to get the scoop! I can’t stress this enough. TALK to other people who have worked with your potential A/V consultant.

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Borrowing Brains, Part II of V

5 Tips to Select and Get the Most Out of
Your A/V Design Consultant

Tip #2. Look for Real World Installation and Integration Experience.

You know that horrible expression, “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach?” While I don’t subscribe to this theory about educators, there is a grain of truth to it when it comes to A/V Consultants. Now, before the hate mail pours in, let me be clear: Most A/V Consultants are well-respected A/V professionals who have worked in the field for decades and made the leap to consulting in order to share their experiences with the world.

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