Another InfoComm Show will soon be upon us with just under a thousand vendors and exhibitors vying for attention from tens of thousands of attendees in the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. If you are attending this year’s conference, I have a challenge for you. Ask every exhibit you stop by what their corporate sustainability plan of action is and how do they manage it with their customers, employees and shareholders. Find out if they have a top-down approach, a bottom-up, or none at all. It will be an interesting eye-opener to see, I am sure, as to who is actually paying attention to this. It may be divided along corporate size, market channels, product type, location or other factors but it will certainly be a great way to break the ice.
Why am I asking you to do this? For starters, the Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry which InfoComm members tend to fall into are on the front lines of being able to readily affect how the conversation surrounding sustainability takes shape. As technologists, the products we use and the systems we design in our buildings or for our clients are making up a larger percentage of the capital budgets and are rapidly increasing in complexity. The demand is there and growing fast.
Many major non-ICT technology companies are already seizing on this opportunity and they are not necessarily part of the AV industry – Honeywell, Rockwell Automation and Johnson Controls are a few to mention. They are seeing the demand for generation and control of data and see how their products are reaching into other areas beyond their normal channels.
Additionally, major companies such as Walmart, Google, Microsoft, Apple, General Electric and even the federal government recognize that the fastest growing influencer of this is not the grey haired CEO but the young upstart who is using a ground up approach to guide social change. There is a recognition by these and many other companies that the best way to reach and retain customers and engage employees is to go beyond the top-down approach where an edict is handed down to everyone without taking to a more individual and personal level. This means targeting your message to the individual audience rather than a one size fits all. Everyone has different levels of understanding and priority regarding sustainability so tailoring the goal to suit their needs and also listening to their ideas about how best to achieve the goals is the best way to be successful. If it is an engineer, provide a technical explanation and provide a budget with a technological challenge for them. A sales person would be more interested in how it impacts their clients as a selling point and differentiator over the competition. A building owner wants to know how this will benefit their operations and capital costs.
This will provide meaning to the individual often resulting is a higher satisfaction in the outcome and better personal stake in its success. This benefits everyone from a recruitment standpoint as well when trying to attract and retain top new young talent who truly have interest in the social engagement of a corporation. Additionally, if a company can provide recognition of success for those who engage, often a higher outcome will arise. Especially of there is financial reward. Walmart for example provides compensation to product line manager based on how sustainable their supply chain is several layers deep. The company provides guidelines on how to achieve this but it is up to the individual manager to find the path and provide the evidence.
If you are looking for a few good examples I would start at the Christie Digital booth or the Harman booth as both companies in the AV industry have a deep commitment to sustainable practices both to their customers and their employees. Post what you find in the comments!