What Education and Professional Development Should AV Integrators Be Pursuing to Survive and Thrive in a Post-Convergence World?

By Brian Rhatigan
Director of Business Development, Almo Pro A/V

One thing I can say with certainty about the industry we work in is that change is constant. While basic foundations like flat panel displays, projectors and amplifiers, for example, remain stable, the way in which they are used and the way in which we connect with them is evolving rapidly. In the nearly fifteen years I have worked in this industry, I have seen huge advancements in technology; most significantly I think is the way that AV devices have evolved into networked devices. There have been other big changes in display technology such as flat panels getting thinner, lighter, larger and the change in backlight technology over to LED.

Change hasn’t been related just to the technology. Our business has become even more competitive over the years with regular new entrants into our marketplace, including non-traditional AV dealers that are now competing for AV projects such as IT resellers and electrical contractors. At the same time customers are more educated and more selective in the technology that they adopt, as well as the partners that they choose to do business with. With so much information available to the buying public, you need to be prepared for engagements at a higher level than ever before. Product knowledge is an absolute must if you want to represent your firm in a positive light, however just as important is the need to stay on top of current technology trends and delivery methods.

Thankfully, trade organizations like AVIXA, CompTIA, BICSI and others, as well as many of the top manufacturers offer numerous training opportunities, often for no cost. While AV and IT still have fairly well-defined and different market channels, there is a large amount of crossover between the two trades. Devices such as projectors, audio amplifiers, loudspeakers, wireless microphone systems, cameras and more all used to be stand-alone devices, but have all now become networkable end points. Additionally, many AV control systems have shifted to a network/cloud based model and AV signal delivery over IP is becoming more commonplace.

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For this reason, AV integrators have no choice now but to gain the required training and resources needed for successful implementation of network based devices. Here are some courses that would provide a good foundation for those looking to start their education in networking:

  1. Cisco Networking Basics Specialization — The five courses included in this specialization are designed for beginners in computing that want to understand the basics of how data is sent and received in a network and how small computer networks are created.
  2. The Bits and Bytes of Computer Networking by Google — This course is designed to provide a full overview of computer networking and will cover everything from the fundamentals of modern networking technologies and protocols to an overview of the cloud to practical applications and network troubleshooting.
  3. CertMaster Learn — This is a comprehensive online training to help prepare for the Network+ certification from CompTIA.   It combines instructional lessons with assessments, videos and performance-based questions to provide over 40 hours of content tied to the exam objectives.
  4. SDVoE Design Partner Certification — Throughout this course you will learn all about how an SDVoE system works, from the design topology to the API which drives software defined video across a 10g network, and at the end of the course you will have the opportunity to take a short assessment to test your new knowledge.
  5. AVIXA Networking Technology Online — This is an interactive core knowledge course for all AV professionals in which you will learn the basics of networking from an AV perspective, while gaining the tools you need to have a meaningful conversation with your IT peers.

Whether you are the owner of a small AV integration firm or a manager at a large national integrator, chances are you are faced with the same struggle of finding the time to attend training for yourself or send your employees for training. Often this can be costly and time consuming however the benefits of a highly trained workforce will almost always outweigh the short term costs.