| Volume 13, Issue 6 — March 30, 2016|
|Employment Musical Chairs Is Never A Good Idea|
By Lee Distad
Hiring is tough. And like a lot of tough tasks, no one really likes to do it. I have a suspicion that the reason human resources departments exist at all is because managers hate hiring, and some manager somewhere hated hiring so much that he delegated someone else to do it all.
But I digress.
Part of the reason why hiring is such an ugly task is because the stakes are high. Plenty of academic studies have attached dollar values to how much it costs a company to recruit, select and train new hires. Speaking generally, it’s expensive. And that’s why, if as a manager you’ve chosen poorly, putting the wrong person in the job costs your company time and money. AND THEN you’ve got to start the hiring process all over.
The bottom line is that good help is hard to find.
The difficulty of hiring and retaining qualified personnel is compounded by the fact that, in general, anyone who’s very good at what they do is either quite happy at their current job, or they’re so good that they’re 100 percent freelance, and are only available on a contract basis, which means that they’re not 100 percent at your beck and call.
And, as any seasoned manager will tell you, if someone has qualifications and is actively looking, that can sometimes be a red flag that the potential hire is missing a necessary piece of the puzzle
It’s all too common that job seekers who are otherwise skilled also have either bad work habits, bad attitudes or both. While bad attitudes are seldom fixable, bad work habits can. But that begs the question: How much time and effort are you willing to take to retrain somebody who’s supposed to already know crucial job skills?
One solution that I’ve championed for a long time is for companies to actively seek candidates from outside their own channel, and look for positive personal attributes: Find those, and you can teach them the skills they need. Unfortunately, that’s a principle more noted in the breach than the observance.
Recently, in the past year or so, in one of the major cities in which I have accounts that I service there’s been a growing, and alarming trend among dealers in one of my channels. They’re all job-hopping. Personnel are, almost quite literally, playing musical chairs with their jobs.
When I’m visiting that city, every single day when I call on one of my customers I see faces behind the desks of people I know from OTHER businesses in the city. Not just salespeople either: No, operations personnel and even general managers are job-hopping too. All of this is confined to a single segment in a single channel.
If they don’t know better, an outside impartial observer could be forgiven that all these channel players are devoted to poaching each other’s people on a full-time basis. Perhaps they are. It’s gone on so long, and become so predictable that frankly it’s starting to feel a little incestuous.
The biggest advantage to hiring from outside your own little bubble is that it fosters the cross pollination of best practices and good ideas from other channels. If each of you in your channel, in your region keep recycling the same people, is anybody learning anything new? What dynamism or energy are those new hires bringing to your company?
“Synergy” is a work that’s been beaten to death, but a successful company experiences a real synergy, when everyone comes together to work towards a greater whole. Without that dynamic exchange, you have stagnation, which is an existential threat. And stagnation in your company should give you cause for concern.Leave a Comment
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|You’ve Got the Power… Now Respect it!|
By Tony Sprando
Commercial AV Designer
Every seasoned audio visual technician can relate to this. There are three things that cause a good working audio visual system to fail: #1 is a user cord, #2 is the power source (which is what I am covering today), and #3 is user error. (I may cover the latter on a future stalled, which leaves the customer with nothing more than a ticking time bomb.) Even if it says it’s a “surge protector,” that only means that you will still lose power at the most inconvenient time, just at a post… maybe :). We love our customers. I have gone into countless AV racks to find a rack mount power strip in later date. Here is the deal on AC (aka Alternating Current) power: It’s alternating! This means it is not stable and it fluctuates from 110-124 at times. The surge protection will handle that for a time but like anything that gets “hammered” enough, it breaks down and then is just a dumb power strip waiting to pass through that next big surge, which will damage the AV equipment.
OK, here is a quiz most people get wrong. What is more harmful from DC (aka Direct Current) Power: 100 watts or 100 volts? Hint: the answer is at the end of this post.
There is no perfect protection from A/C damage considering all the elements around us from static shock, lightning strikes and those pesky percolating coffee makers that the church ladies plugged in on the same circuit as the AV system Sunday morning. You remember, don’t you? Remember that time you chased your tail trying to find out why there was no power up to the sound board? With all due respect to the selfless AV operator who comes in to run Sunday church week after week… “Respect the Power” (and church ladies too.)
Here are some steps to follow to protect yourself and others from a failed AV system power issue:
Power comes first. It’s easy to meet with a customer, or take on a project, and be all creative and “think of the possibilities,” but it’s your job on the line if it fails. So be sure to inspect the power availability and ask all the right questions including:
- Is there, or will there be, dedicated power to the AV system(s)? This means there will be a straight line of power from the electrical panel to your AV system and anything powered by the proposed system, like power speakers, projectors, etc. I like to group the audio on one circuit, video on another and lighting on its own, as well.
- Is there, or will there be, a dedicated ground to the AV system location(s)? This means there will be a ground wire dedicated to the AV system locations, which can be shared with the audio and video, but lighting and the electric projection screen should be separate. The key is to keep anything with a motor or a dimmer off the same circuit as the audio/video equipment.
Install a power management system on all your AV racks, projector locations, powered speakers, Lighting Dimmer Packs, etc.
This is commonly a single or triple rack space unit that will do these things:
- Filters dirty power
- Live power monitoring and controlling. You can cycle each outlet for troubleshooting and do it remotely without event interruptions. Plus, you’ll get email notifications to stay one-step-ahead of those panicked calls from a customer saying, “Help, I have no power! What do I do?”
- Local volt/amp meter, outlet status and warning LEDs
The Ultimate Protection are these things which will be of considerable expense and usually exceed the AV budget, but it will make you look REALLY smart if you bring up at least one of the following steps in a planning meeting:
- Have a battery back-up system installed to handle the load of everything in the AV rack,
- Have a separate power drop or service installed on-site just for the audio visual systems, or
- Find a great electrician! An electrician who has commercial building experience and get a price to install surge protected circuit breakers in the electrical panel for all your AV stuff.
Answer to my Quiz: What is more harmful from DC power: 100 watts or 100 volts? The volts. TIP: When you are rifling through that box of DC power supplies to find that one you need, remember to match the volts first and that the watts need to be at least what the units you are trying to power requires. It will use what it needs, respectfully.
Here is a good video on respecting power around the home and office.
May you be empowered this day!
Tony, the AV guyLeave a Comment
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|Displays No Longer Dominate the Living Room|
By Christopher Jaynes
CTO and Founder, Mersive
A friend who works at a large content streaming company recently gave me a glimpse at a study that focused on the role of television in the household and wow – the results were quite shocking. I would argue the results will have significant impact on how displays are used in the enterprise as well as the home.
The study, from the award winning research agency, Sparkler, puts an end to the long-standing belief that the television is the center point for social interaction in the living room. The viewpoint that the 4K flat panel hanging on your living room wall acts as a digital campfire – bringing people together with common social focus and lightweight interaction – just isn’t the case. Instead, other sources of information and entertainment (mobile devices in particular), are just as important. Multiple users, multiple devices, and context switching between them seems to be the new norm. The study followed the behavior of 1,050 people in the UK and used sophisticated techniques including biometric tracking, on-device analytics and video.
Here are a few takeaways from the study:
- Only half of online adults report that the TV is the focal point of their living room.
- While “significantly engaged” in watching television, 70 percent of viewers use a network-connected device.
- The percentage of users that engage devices & television simultaneously grows to 87 percent for individuals aged 16-34.
The study goes on to point out that the “second screen” is really an incorrect view of what is actually happening. Users are not making use of their second screen to augment a show. Instead, they are context switching between multiple content sources. This “switch screening” is commonplace and typically involves 2-3 additional devices outside of the television. This means the living room has become a multi-device, multi-functional space where users are interacting with multiple content sources and activities: social media, email, work and messaging.
Why does this matter to the professional world? I’ve pointed out in the past that a good understanding of consumer behaviors can inform trends in the enterprise and professional space. It’s why the AppleTV, for example, ended up (much to most people’s disappointment) in corporate conference rooms, and it’s why BYOD/MDM companies like Mobile Iron and Good exist. If you’re wondering how this will impact professional AV, ask yourself how the conference rooms you’re deploying today will (or won’t) support the behavior trends of meeting-goers. Multiple devices, multiple content sources, and the conference room display all need to seamlessly interact in meeting spaces and collectively improve workforce effectiveness and productivity.
For some more information about meeting culture and the role of technology in the conference room, checkout this survey by Mersive.Leave a Comment
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|ISE By the Numbers – 65,000 and Counting, UpThe first four-day Integrated Systems Europe exhibition was an unqualified success – it was the biggest AV show, ever. In drawing over 65,000 actual attendees to meet with over 1,100 exhibitors, ISE attendance increased by 10.7 percent and over 30 percent of all attendees were there for the first-time! But, only 8 percent of the attendees were female in an industry where the ratio is closer to 70/30 male/female. That’s something that we will address later this month with a program we will be announcing in partnership with InfoComm, so, on the the good news:|
We love this show. And, we spend a fortune covering it — it’s our most expensive show to cover each year. But, it’s worth every penny. We shot over 1500 videos of EVERY NEW PRODUCT launched at ISE and you can view them here.
We hope you’ll check out all our coverage as it includes over 3,000 photos of the show floor, we wrote over 500 news stories and recorded over 40 podcasts!
Integrated Systems Europe is here.Leave a Comment
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|CEDIA Increases Training Offerings with Additional Full Day of Courses at CEDIA 2016CEDIA has announced that it will significantly expand education offerings at CEDIA 2016 by adding a fourth day to the training schedule. Courses will now be available starting on Tuesday, September 12 and run through Saturday. The show floor will keep the traditional schedule and will open on Thursday, September 15.|
“We recognize that our attendees have packed schedules while at the show. They’re looking to make the most of their time and that can mean scheduling down to the minute,” said Luke Amos, CEDIA Director of Online Learning. “Our goal in expanding the schedule is to make it easier for attendees to spend time in the classroom by offering of two full days of education and training before the show floor even opens.”
Tuesday training will include some highly sought-after half-day and full-day workshops such as HAA -THX Home Theater Advisor Certification, Video Calibration Level I, Home Cinema for Designers, Rack Building & Wiring Fundamentals, and the CEDIA COI Train the Trainer course. In addition to offering Tuesday training, CEDIA is offering at total of 43 new courses and has expanded business course offerings based on attendee and member feedback.
“CEDIA education and training programs have set the standard for equipping home technology professionals with the tools and resources they need to deliver the best possible experience to their clients. I’m proud of our ability to stay nimble and offer robust education programs that meet the needs of members whether they’re looking to dig into technical training or hone their skills as a business owner,” said Vin Bruno, CEDIA CEO.
A preliminary outline of the training program is available on the CEDIA 2016 website to help attendees start planning their schedules. CEDIA members looking for additional savings should consider the CEDIA Training Pass, which enables them to take as many courses as they can fit into their schedule. Additional discounts are available for companies that purchase multiple training passes. Go here for more information.Leave a Comment
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|D-Tools System Integrator 2016 Now AvailableD-Tools today announced the availability of the newest version of its System Integrator (SI) software platform, SI 2016. Building upon the architecture of the System Integrator platform, which includes a robust D-Tools Cloud infrastructure, this major release adds over 50 new productivity features and enhancements that make it faster and easier than ever for residential and commercial AV, higher education and security integrators, consultants, tech managers and systems designers to perform key functions of their business — estimation, system design and project management. SI 2016 offers improvements in virtually every functional area including integrations with SupplyStream and QuickBooks Online, purchase order management and numerous improvements to reporting, scheduling, and Mobile Install. Now available as an upgrade for existing customers, SI 2016 will be provided at no cost for customers participating in the D-Tools Software Assurance program.|
Highlights of SI 2016 new features and enhancements:
- Search SupplyStream product catalog from within D-Tools SI 2016
- See your actual cost and real-time product availability (requires SupplyStream account, which is free to D-Tools customers)
QuickBooks Online Integration:
- Sync D-Tools product catalog with QuickBooks
- Send estimates and purchase orders directly to QuickBooks Online
- Sync vendors when creating items in QuickBooks Online
- Create and issue purchase orders from within a D-Tools project
- Order items for multiple projects and for stock on the same P.O.
- New D-Tools vendor portal facilitates communication between vendor and integrator
- Items received are updated in the D-Tools project’s order tracking log
Tasks and Scheduling:
- Timeline view added to calendar
- Add/edit business hours to the schedule
- Mobile Install enhancements
- Time Sheets – track and export time entries to payroll software
- Add site items to install tasks and service orders
- Send notifications when work order or service order tasks are completed
- Off-page reference capabilities for schematic drawings in Visio
- Show coverage area for cameras, motion detectors and WAPs
- New cable tray shapes facilitate design and layout of equipment rooms
- Ability to re-arrange the order of items in a proposal
- Four new client reports – Company Profile, Line Item Detail (Discount and Net Price), Line Item Detail (Unit
- Price and Total Price) and Product Details
- Checklist with Install Status
- New Report Definitions
Sign up for a free demo here or download a free 30-day trial here.Leave a Comment
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|Our Digital Signage Expo Coverage Is HUGEThe largest, dedicated digital signage show, the Digital Signage Expo, was held last week in Las Vegas. And, we were there — covering it all. We sent reporters to EVERY booth on the show floor and shot videos of EVERY new product launched — over 300 of them. In addition, we shot over 360 photos of the show floor, we recorded podcasts from DSE and we wrote over 120 news stories on new digital signage gear and software.|
And, we put it all in one dedicated microsite that is searchable a bunch of different ways. So, check out all our DSE coverage here.Leave a Comment
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|On Controls Unveils Quick Start Service for IntegratorsOn Controls has announced the introduction of the Quick Start Service for authorized integrators. According to On Controls, Quick Start enables integrators to work more efficiently by enlisting ON Controls engineers to program a customized Quick Start template for residential projects up to eight rooms.|
For Quick Start, the installation must use the On Controls SE7EN theme and the interface can be any Apple iPad version 8.0 or higher. First, the integrator provides the requisite specifications of the system to the ON Controls engineering team. Once programmed, the theme will reside in the cloud and be accessible to the integrator simply by syncing all applicable handsets (iPads) on the network. Quick Start is an affordable way for integrators to leverage the customizable nature of the On Controls automation platform along with the power of the cloud in order to provide better service to their clients more efficiently. On Controls dealers requesting the enhanced support of Quick Start can integrate the related costs into each new project.
Once a Quick Start template has been programmed, the integrator can save it and repeatedly use it on compatible installations at no additional cost (provided additional support is not required).
Quick Start also enables integrators to upload a pre-programmed control solution to their iPad as an effective way to demo the features and functionality of the SE7EN theme to prospective clients.
Here are all the details.Leave a Comment
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|URC Introduces the TKP-5500 Five-Inch, In-Wall Touchscreen for the HomeNew TKP-5500 in-wall touchscreen for URC Total Control smart home automation works with all URC TC Advanced Network Controller (MRX-8/10/20). It features a high resolution, 5-inch color touchscreen and can be mounted portrait or landscape in a standard single-gang wall box. It provides full utilization of all Total Control features such as IP Cameras, third-party devices (two-way), Z-Wave Control, SNP-2, Timers, Events, Rooms Menu (can switch which room it controls) and Room Linking for URC DMS products.|
Priced at just $599, the TKP-5500 is designed to be always on and ready for use. It fits securely in a standard single-gang wall box, either horizontally or vertically, to provide a dedicated screen for whole-house control in any area.
Here are the product details.Leave a Comment
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|Channel Vision Enlarges Enclosures for Larger Electrical KnockoutsChannel Vision has renovated its 19” enclosures to feature larger electrical knockouts than previous models. The modification provides more space for installers to work with and facilitates the installation of networking modules. The company has also reinforced its packaging of all enclosure and cover doors to protect products from any damage inflicted while in transit.|
Electrical knockouts on 19″ enclosures are now 2.36″, almost an inch larger than the previous model (1.75″). With the extra space, installers will be able to work more quickly and efficiently with networking products in the enclosure. Enclosure sizes include 12″, 19″, 28″, 38″ and 50″. The company also manufactures extension rings for 50″ enclosures that allows up to 100” of functional enclosure space for larger projects.
Channel Vision recently released 12” plastic enclosures with built-in cover doors. These enclosures are sold in master packs of five, and function as an efficient and economical solution for production builders. On the other end of the spectrum, Channel Vision’s tinted designer glass doors and framed double doors offer an attractive alternative to the typical look of a structured wiring unit for custom and luxury homes.
All the details are here.Leave a Comment
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For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe HomeAV Edition out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100% opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the high-end HomeAV industry, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write anything good (or bad).
Don’t like us, then go away — unsubscribe! Just use the link below.
To send me feedback, don’t reply to this newsletter – instead, write directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or for editorial ideas: Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at email@example.com
A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV-industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe Publications has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA, launched in February, 2004.
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rAVe HomeAV Edition contains the opinions of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other persons or companies or its sponsors.