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!
So, I caught the remake of Arthur on a cable movie channel the other day. I’m absolutely NOT a fan of Russell Brand and was quite upset to hear that they were remaking the movie originally. While it was never high art or anything, the original Arthur is a bit of a classic and good for some laughs, mainly at the manic performance of Dudley Moore as the namesake loveable drunk – a performance that has set the standard for a generation of actors “acting drunk.”
Still, I adore Helen Mirren (Can I *be* her when I grow up?) and figured it was worth a watch on a boring afternoon. I’m so glad I watched it, if for no other reason, for the following scene:
I recently started a new job, after more than a year of freelance jobs and short-term contracts in and out of the AV industry. I’ve now “tasted” a variety of companies in different segments of our industry and now that I’ve returned to my roots as a systems integrator, I’m discovering that I’ve suffered from Corporate Stockholm Syndrome.
If you Google “corporate Stockholm Syndrome,” many bloggers and authors have tried to redefine the psychological phenomenon of hostages identifying with their captors for the corporate and business world. One of the best attempts comes from a programming company, C2, which describes the term as “the phenomenon wherein employees of a business start to identify with, and are exceedingly loyal to, an employer who is manifestly hostile to their own self-interest.” For my purposes, however, this definition can be expanded.
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!)
The Economy, US Credit Downgrade and Little Fish
I was working on a new Little Fish Tales (on dealing with manufacturers as a Little Fish… stay tuned!) when news broke on Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the US Credit Rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time ever. As the economy has been on everyone’s mind for the past, oh, 3 or 4 years anyways, I felt it important to postpone the other topic and address this one.
So, how has the economy been treating us Little Fish? Anecdotally, we’re taking a beating. Corporate installs have slowed to a trickle over the past two years and competition for the government and education projects has skyrocketed. Big Fish who never bothered with some of the smaller projects that kept Little Fish fed are suddenly circling them with a hungry gleam in their eyes, while new players join the battle from other ponds – residential AV, security, telecom, IT. One #AVTweep who participated in the February 2011 #AVChat on ‘The Economy’ said, “(We) started doing smaller jobs we normally wouldn’t have messed with.” It is becoming harder and harder for the Little Fish integrator to get a nibble.
I had planned a nice, long post-Infocomm wrap up for this space, but (as per usual) life intervened. So, that blog will be forthcoming (I hope). In the mean time, I am still hard at work on some Infocomm coursework I started last month and looking ahead to resuming my MBA classes this fall. I … Read more
The other day, I read a blog by Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting) called “Twitter’s Top 75 Badass Women.” This wonderful article – which can be read at http://tinyurl.com/Top75Women – detailed 75 great ladies on Twitter who have a passion for their jobs and share it well. As Ms. Adams wrote:
Welcome to Little Fish Tales.