InfoComm100: An AV Honor and Industry Must

165x75-IC100_2011-0911“The invisible is still invisible. Look for it and do something about it.” – Daniel Burrus

I had the incredible privilege of attending this year’s InfoComm100 recently held in Portland, Oregon. Hosted by the InfoComm International Board of Directors and Leadership Development Committee, it is the one annual event where the top 100 leaders and visionaries in the AV industry come together to discuss the most critical business and technology challenges we are facing, as well as the competitive advantages companies have by looking into the crystal ball we call the future. Conversations were not about staying relevant, but positioning our industry to lead this “new world order” of converged low-voltage technologies.

Being my second InfoComm100, I had an idea about what to expect — the thought-provoking discussions, the mind expanding speakers and presentations, and most importantly — the honor of being in the company of the most brilliant and successful men and women in our industry, some of the kindest and most passionate people I’ve had the honor to meet. Let me just tell you, these people CARE about our industry and the impact on what happens to all of us as a result of the often difficult and far-reaching decisions they make on a daily basis. And attending this year was especially meaningful to me. As a woman in our industry, there were nine of us at the conference and we had inspiring discussions about our unique future and how to help more women join and achieve higher levels of success in our AV family.

There were two distinct themes that resonated for me and I would say not only our leaders, but also we as individuals need to pay particular attention to looking forward and bring forth our opinion. If we do not concurrently give each the same heightened focus and strategic thought about how they affect each other — one will not succeed without the other.

The most obvious is the AV/IT convergence you’ve been hearing about since Y2K — remember that dinosaur? — and how our products and services will evolve and compete in the world of cloud computing. Fact: more and more of what we do will reside somewhere “out there” in that “cloud” — instead of in a hardware box we have sitting in front of us to manipulate. The statistic reiterated was 60 percent of our future business will be in the cloud. More on THAT in a minute!

The second, and I would argue more important theme, is how we combine and leverage our workforce in a way where the different generations complement each other for continued growth. There are currently four generations in our workforce, which has never occurred in our history. Each generation has unique values, priorities, assets and perspectives about what is important and makes a company thrive. Given we’re on the verge of a technological AND workforce transformation; we must also be looking internally at how we work together and are open to identifying and implementing our generational strengths and weaknesses. To have ANY chance of our products and services competing.

Our leaders bring us experience and wisdom about how to be successful running a business. Guess what — that 20-something “tech-head” brings us a lifetime of being nimble and successful in finding new customers we have no idea exist somewhere in “that” cloud. How do we, as leaders, tap into the genius our young workforce possess in social media, immersive and disruptive technologies, while also providing the framework and business fundamentals to keep companies profitable and employed?

For both of these challenges and opportunities, keynote speaker David Nour said it best, “The way you frame the problem leads you down the path of how you are going to solve it.” And, the question to ask ourselves is, are we framing the right questions to solve the correct problem? Because as Nour points out, “We are all looking at the problem from a different perspective.”

When it comes to the future of cloud computing, presenter Dale Johnson said, “AV’s competitive advantage is [that] the future of communications is visual.” Meaning, no other industry knows how to deliver a quality customer experience as well as we do — we’ve been doing it since it existed. What our industry knows that IT may never understand, nor conceivably want to, is it’s not just about delivering a data packet. It’s about whether the customer is happy and more productive because of the tools they used performing their business. We can be assured the technology will continue to change. Johnson drove this home by saying, “The customer already perceives the voice, data and AV industries have merged.” Now it seems we need to ask ourselves the question, how do we use this cloud to make it work for us?

Finally, and most importantly — congratulations to the 2011 InfoComm Awards Winners!! This class is exceptional and their accomplishments say it all to what our entire industry looks up to as Best In Class.

Please see InfoComm International for your 2011 Award Winners: http://infocomm.org/cps/rde/xchg/infocomm/hs.xsl/14348.htm

Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year: Alan Brawn, CTS
Green AV: Da-Lite and WolfVision
Women in AV: Erin Bolton, Pivot Communications and Helen Meyer, Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc.
Young AV Professional: Justin McArdle, CTS-D, CTS-I, Zeller Digital Innovations, Inc. and Gina Sansivero, Projector Lamp Services

(Forgive me for my couple extra claps – woo-hoo, ladies!!)

Keynote speaker, Daniel Burrus, left the InfoComm100 attendees with something I ask us all to consider. “What are you going to do differently on Monday because of what you learned?” How are we keeping “busy” when we could be looking for the “invisible?”

Jennifer H. Willard

Jennifer Willard is an international speaker on AV design and construction in courthouses and a blogger and podcast host for rAVe [Publications]. She is also the founder of Women in AV.