AMX Takes a Step Away From the Walled Garden

walled garden

In September, AMX announced a new line of controllers. The most interesting thing about these controllers is, per AMX’s press release, the ability to “simultaneously process a virtually unlimited number of scripts written in JavaScript, Python or Groovy and natively support Low-Code development with Node-RED.” I have written before on the problems with walled gardens, and the industry’s (or at least many companies) desire to force people into their ecosystem. While some other companies have incorporated some limited ability to invoke Python scripts from their own programs, I think that this is an amazing step forward for AMX. From this interview with Jeff Burch, it sounds like AMX is looking at this as a strategy for the future, along with opening the code to be more readily accessible to professional programmers

A quick Google search will confirm for you that two of the most popular programming languages in the world are Python and JavaScript. With AMX presenting a line of controllers that use these languages, it is closing a tiny part of the circle that was still open in the AV/IT convergence. This may make some AV programmers feel a bit uncomfortable, as they will worry that the IT people are going to come in and take their roles. These people need to get out of that discomfort in a hurry. Those programmers are not looking to take AV programmers’ roles, but rather they are looking for partners they can understand. The convergence of AV and IT makes that happen.

However, if you sit still and do nothing you will lose your role as eventually the needs and requirements of customers will only be solved by learning these programming languages. So, traditional AV programmers need to quickly learn one of these two programming languages so they can “talk the talk” with their IT colleagues.

Being able to code our systems with the same programming language that the rest of the IT world uses is an enormous increase in the services we will be able to provide our customers. It will allow us to tie into all the ERP systems that our organizations have, including scheduling software, employee information, working hours, etc. It will also allow us to feedback information to these systems, and to provide all types of information on how and when spaces are used. Our IT colleagues will feel much more comfortable and helpful knowing they will understand the programming (and inherent security concerns) that come with doing this work. Previously, we have been asking them to trust systems that they have no clue about. Their willingness to do that has been mixed.

I am anxious to see how AMX continues to move forward with this push. I don’t have access to all the private conversations and financial data of the company, but certainly the general consensus has been that AMX has faded away from being one of the major players in the industry — despite being backed by an enormous parent company. This AV/IT push could be a re-thinking of a strategy in order to get back into the conversation. The interview (referenced above) sounds like AMX may be thinking that way, but Burch hedges by saying, “The downside to opening the walled garden is you can’t control how people use your product and you may lose some share of pocket if you don’t keep people buying your other products and make it too easy for them to go and get a competitive product.”

The point Burch brought up, along with quality control, is why so many companies (I am looking at you, Apple) force their customers into the walled garden. But I hope that AMX stays on this course and continues to put out more products that allow for programming with standard languages. I believe that this would be a brilliant strategic move by a company. It is likely something that only a company that is in a position like AMX could do, due to the current state of its market share. While other companies are marketing and developing to maintain customers, AMX is largely in a position where it wants to bring in new customers. What could really go wrong for AMX at this point? If this is a new strategic direction that proves successful, I expect many more will follow.