5 Minutes with Jon Sidwick for LAVNCH WEEK 2.0

Jon Sidwick is vice chairman of the board for AVIXA, and he’ll be delivering our keynote presentation on UCC Day of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0. Up until May, he’d also spent the last 23 years of his career working for Maverick AV Solutions, a part of Tech Data. So, like you, I was curious; what’s he got in store for us for LAVNCH WEEK? To find out, I spent five minutes with Jon (OK, it was more like 45 minutes — but a very fun and productive 45 minutes) to learn more about him and his thoughts on UCC right now.

Here’s a teaser: Jon’s working up a challenge for our LAVNCH attendees, with three concrete things they can think about (and do) today. To do it, he’s bringing in two additional AV experts to help tell his story. The thing is, I’m not one for spoilers, so you’ll just have to register and tune in on June 22 for UCC Day to find out who those experts are. This is just the preview article, after all.

Jon Sidwick headshot next to AVIXA logo

This is an interview with Jon Sidwick, as written by Leah McCann. It has been edited for clarity. 

LM: I’d love to hear about you and your experience in AV. Can you tell me a bit about your background (which, from a skim on LinkedIn, is quite impressive!) and your work with AVIXA?

JS: I have spent 30+ years in AV covering retail, then as a vendor and, the last 23 years, in distribution. Having created five businesses and transformed Maverick into a world leader in UCC, I am now working out where to focus my desire to disrupt and challenge. Whilst I do this, I am privileged to be a board member of AVIXA, which enables me to work with a group of talented people on the future strategy of our industry, something that’s very appropriate in the current situation.

LM: What will you be speaking about on UCC Day of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0?

JS: Times of world crisis always create a period of massive change, and I would love to explore what the impact of COVID-19 will be on our industry. More importantly, are we fully equipped for the changes we will see? If not, what do we need to do?

Before continuing with the planned interview questions, I asked Jon to help me understand the birds-eye view of UCC (and AV’s place in it) before the novel coronavirus.

JS: Even before COVID-19, AV wasn’t the most important part of the UCC solution — the most important thing is the platform. But AV is the enabler of the platform — the visual edge of the platform. Without the platform, we’re nothing. But without AV, the platform isn’t anything either. The better the AV, the better the platform works.

Then, Jon expanded on how UCC has shifted since the pandemic.

JS: We often look at the intersection of people, process, space and technology. The intersection point of these four tenants, until now, was the office — or, more narrowly, the meeting space within the office. COVID-19 has changed this; we’re now moving toward the need to understand the full “digital workflow.” Rather than a static intersection point, it’s how people fluidly work, in all environments. It’s now hybrid. What this means is people will be working from everywhere, like satellite offices. There will be a more dispersed workforce as the majority of workers seek a better work experience than their kitchen table in a cramped city apartment. A digital workflow will be critical — and not just in the work environment, but also in applications like retail and telemedicine, etc. It’s a much more fluid view on collaboration and communication and how people interact in a whole variety of situations. We need to, as an industry, understand this new

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Next, Jon took me through the three challenges he’s going to pose to the industry during his keynote. Remember when I said I’m not one for spoilers? This applies here too. You’ll need to tune into UCC Day on June 22 to hear these killer insights on how to come out on the positive side after all this.

LM: As the audience of UCC Day will largely be AV integrators (along with technology managers and some end users), what do you want this group to take away after your keynote?

JS: I would love attendees to challenge their own thoughts on what true possibilities the current crisis will deliver. Fundamentally, the role of our industry will change, almost totally for the better. The need for high-quality communication is now mission-critical, and we need to be good at delivering it — but we must also see it in a wider context of how people work and collaborate in a true hybrid workforce world.

LM: What resources have you been using to learn, pivot, and stay abreast of the changes in AV and UCC right now? Do you have any you can share with us?

JS: Talk to users, and work with them to solve immediate issues. There is no playbook or training course on today’s world.

Jon’s and my conversation took many unplanned but insightful turns — we talked about his craziest experience of someone thinking he was Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, on a visit to the West Coast. No, this actually happens a lot, Jon said. Multiple selfies taken, he joked. Jon’s even had someone pitch their business idea to him. I get the sense that Jon was way too nice to turn them away (apparently the British accent didn’t give it away either), so we’ll just let that person believe they pitched their business plan to Jeff Bezos and move right along. Something else I learned and appreciated was Jon’s insight on what we can do today, right now, new material. As a company: Talk to distributors and stakeholders on what they’re hearing. Don’t wait to reframe your strategy — talk to your partners, and focus on platform leverage. Consider that IoT and the data element of UCC are going to be everything. Also, stay positive! Most companies don’t know what to do next; but so much of this is going to be AV. And as an industry, we handle change (and come out of change) quite well. We are well-equipped to take this crisis on.

Don’t miss Jon Sidwick at LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 on Monday, June 22; his keynote on UCC Day will offer a full version of the topics we discussed today. Register here, and visit rave.pub/LAVNCHweek2 to learn all about LAVNCH WEEK.