In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Dotan Shoval. Here is a brief introduction.
Dotan Shoval is the founder of AVMaster and The Machine.
1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
Actually I was an IT person for almost 20 years before I went into the AV industry.
I came from the ERP industry, spent many years in consulting, pre-sale and project management. Later on I started to work at IBM as a services sales manager and a few years later I started as VP Sales at a local AV integration company in Israel.
That was my first interaction with the AV industry and during my time as VP of sales, I had a many meetings with my teams and end users at customer sites. I found out that they aren’t really familiar with the AV industry, which made them dependent on every bit of information they could get. It took me back to the end of the 90s’ – beginning of the millennium, where ‘balance’ in the ERP systems was still happening: customers invested money in ERP systems, which didn’t necessarily fit their companies’ needs, or had a lot of features that were useless since they had no experience or knowledge. Fast forward to present time – you couldn’t sell an ERP system to a customer without them asking every possible question, which comes from years of experience.
That insight got me thinking that there is an entire industry here (Pro AV) which lacks the respectable presence it needs, the presence of knowledge which could and should help end users learn and understand more about their AV, thus enabling them to make wiser AV purchase decisions for their organizations. In the long run – if we could increase awareness, it will lead to a standard with which everyone must align.
2.What do you think are the challenges a newcomer who joins the industry faces?
I noticed a few challenges in several aspects – I will specify one for each:
Industry – on the organization side, this isn’t a high budget industry, comparing to IT, although its solutions are extremely important in the technological era. It has a lot of influence on company teams’ success.
End Users – understanding that AV is a meaningful industry in achieving business goals defined by the organization, it’s more than a projector or a display – we’re talking about fundamental tools that need careful definition in order to achieve viable conferences which translate into winning internal communications.
Manufacturers – Adopting consumer applications into the commercial/business world, since the human habits prevail – this is a must.
AV Integrators – Understanding that a smart customer is better than an ignorant one, as the latter will not implement nor spread the knowledge. In additional I think that the way most of them look on sales processes should be change, and I have lack of experience to help them with that.
AV Consultants need to join the IT industry, full convergence. For many AV consultants the IT world is a complete stranger. I think within a 5 years the AV/IT consulting industry will change drastically.
Ecosystem – this industry started off through wholesalers. A company that needed a display or other devices such as phones would purchase and install them by themselves or by using ‘handyman’, then came the ‘knowledge’ era that involved AV integrators who added their wisdom and expertise – till today we can see practically identical projects done in various ways. That alone tells us that knowledge and creativity may get different results, some better than others.
Once again we evolve, this time into the era of solutions ‘out of the box’. An era where the AV integrators’ influence may wear off unless they better interface with IT, AI, AR/VR/MR etc. applications. Bringing again their added value.
3. Positive sides of working in this industry.
I think that literally each projector or screen installed, changes the world. Verticals like Education, Security, Medical and of course visitor attractions, change the user experience, the way spaces are concerned and the information is consumed. It’s an industry which changes the world into billions of colors.
4.What changes do you think the industry is facing ?
The most important change or opportunity is actually the Coronavirus. It reshuffled the entire way organizations work and that’s a great opportunity to engage with the IT department needs and teams.
These virus implications should set our industry priorities. IT teams besides the end-users, should grasp the importance and meaning of AV solutions. This will influence the way we will plan an office space from now on.
One more change will be the vendors’ go to market strategy. Their product teams should replace mindset in order to find the accurate needs in the market and “assemble” lateral solutions.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
5.Describe your ideal client?
As a player in the media industry who observes the B2B industry for almost three decades, my ideal client would be a learning one, knowledgeable, who understands the existing tools and solutions, one who asks and insists on the exact needs so he may choose the right AV tools to serve his company for years to come.
This would also be ‘my ideal vendor’.
6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?
I think that my entry into the industry was accompanied by objective difficulties related to two dimensions – both the study of the industry itself and its culture in Israel. We are a small country with lots of players and huge competition. This leads often to risky BIDS.I was happy to hold on to these insights from my first day in the industry about seven years ago, and it’s never too late to go with what you believe in.
7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
Our service is producing accurate content for every vertical in the industry – manufacturers, integration and installation companies, consultants and even architects and project management companies. Each vertical faces different challenges and needs to refine them in order to produce the right content that will tell their story through the spectrum of the portfolio, knowledge and of course the people.
And it does not end there; they need to learn and practice first how to properly use this content within the three internal departments – sales, marketing and delivery/customer service. So even though we produce content, my work day is laden with learning and training interfaces with the goal of allowing the industry to grow more correctly as much as I can.
8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
My Toolbox includes WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, CRM system and many more 😉 BUT my gear is whoever experience I could learn from.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Learn to learn.
Like in every industry.
To know much more, please connect on Linkedin.