HETMA Virtual Conference

HETMA Higher Education Technology Managers AllianceIn April I wrote a blog about HETMA, a new association formed by Joe Way and BC Hatchett. Check out the blog to understand more about the association and why it was formed. In this blog, I want to draw your attention to the first-ever virtual conference that HETMA hosted December 9-11, 2019. By all accounts, the conference was an enormous hit and will only lead to more events and information provided by HETMA.

So much amazing information was discussed during the conference, it is difficult to pinpoint something specific to write about. Rather than recap every session, I decided to take a big-picture look at the conference and what I believe will be the lasting impacts. If you want to see any of the sessions, or all of them, you can visit the HETMA YouTube channel here.

Big Picture Item #1

The people who moderated and participated in these sessions were mostly AV people from the higher education segment. These people were highly knowledgeable, experienced and talented. It included people who have been in higher education their entire careers, to people who used to be in live production and a couple who have been integrators. It became clear while listening and talking with these people that the term “technology manager” does not describe in any way the work they do. They are indeed integrators, even though they work for a higher ed institution. Thus, the term “in-house integrators” is the best description for these people. In addition to being a better description, this phrase also helps integrators, manufacturers, AVIXA and the entire AV industry better understand who they are working with.

Big Picture Item #2

My first item leads directly into my second. If we are looking at the AV people who work in higher ed institutions as in-house integrators, then the rest of the industry has to rethink how they interact with this group of people. The first suggestion I have is to watch every session. You have eight sessions, in which we describe exactly what we are doing every day and where we need help and partners. Each time I write this blog, I think about what type of support, equipment, tools and training is needed. However, that can never compete with two dozen higher ed folks from different institutions talking about their needs. Whether you represent a manufacturer, a trade association, designer or integrator, it will be well worth your time to listen to each of these sessions.

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Big Picture Item #3

It became clear through the conference that there are some big issues that higher education is dealing with currently. If you have read any of my blogs, been on social media, or looked at other rAVe articles, you are are aware that AVaaS is one of those BIG issues. However, there are a couple others out there that may not get as much press, but are growing in importance and visibility. One is accessibility. I was blown away by the professional, thoughtful and knowledgeable people in this session. It not only got me thinking about how our spaces need to be more accessible, but even my understanding of what accessibility is changed. A third issue that has had some press, but is about ready to explode in higher education is esports. This session had two experts in the field discuss what esports is, how it is growing and how we can support it. These three sessions highlighted what will be the biggest issues in higher ed AV in 2020.

Big Picture Item #4

The final question and answer session of the conference showed what the future of HETMA could be. The session was moderated by rAVe’s own Gary Kayye. Gary took an interesting take with the group that encouraged many of us. He pointed out that we are different from “end users,” and that we bring a tremendous amount of knowledge to the industry. He also pointed out that with those different experiences and knowledge comes some influence. He confirmed HETMA’s belief that as in-house integrators (formerly technology managers) we should be able to encourage manufacturers to create products and services that serve our needs directly. The future is looking bright for HETMA as it becomes a resource not just for higher ed in-house integrators, but for the businesses that want to support them. HETMA can be the place to reach out to when you need a focus group, when you want to test a new product, when you think you may have found a workable AVaaS model. HETMA is already planning for events in 2020 and will soon be making some announcements, so keep an eye out. It promises to be an exciting year.