The reviews of InfoComm 2015 have been varied. As a manufacturer, the show was great for us as we accomplished our product education and relationship building goals. For others, some said they didn’t see the WOW factor, others were WOWed, and others still saw great products but felt “facted to death” because no real storytelling was built around them.
All of these reviews have dealt with the show itself and its product revealing exhibitionists, but if you look deeper, to some of the events surrounding and leading up to the show, you may have seen the undercurrents of a serious quality in AV movement.
Then InfoComm sent out a “Don’t Look Over There!” communication that vaguely referenced other organizations that were posting up in Orlando during InfoComm and asking members not to support their events. One of the groups doing this was the Association for Quality in AV Technology, AQAV. This is the group that has been known for promoting the AV9000 standard as a way to mitigate the estimated $15B in wasted time, utility, and rework due to poor AV quality standards. (Who can blame them for taking their event to where the AV professionals would be? Like Sutton said, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.”)
(As a note of reference, read this InfoComm blog from before the show. Infocomm has since contacted me to relay they did not intend to include AVAQ in this group of other off-site events, however they were not specifically excluded in the blog, which led to confusion here by myself, AVAQ and many others.)
Couple this with InfoComm’s focus on Exceptional Experiences, their new APEx program that includes customer satisfaction ratings, the growing Standards Plenary, and a myriad of standards posts on their All Voices blog and you definitely can see the quality undercurrent that is flowing through our industry.
I have also been on record multiple times calling for a “come to Jesus” moment if you will, where we take an honest look in the mirror and address some of the issues we all know exist but never want to talk about. For that reason, I think that this movement for quality is long overdue and I applaud those above that are moving it forward.
The major argument I hear from those running integration businesses is that adhering to a predefined set of standards and procedures will add too much cost to the process. No one ever believes that they themselves contribute to the problem, “it’s the other guys fault” so why should they change their procedures? To that I answer with a special Demotivator from Despair Inc:
The truth is that the industry as a whole would benefit from the adoption of some standard practices and the customer would pay more for systems done this way… if, and this is a big IF, the customer actually had some idea about what the initials we add behind our names and companies mean.
The problem with CTS, CAVSP, AQAV, and even the APEx program is and has been that the person buying the system has no clue what they are. Sure, as an integrator, you can educate your client about the designations, but many times that education may sound more like a sales pitch to win the job than an objective measurement of ability. This is why we have a trade association in the first place. The trade show is nice, but not the point.
Without a thriving integrator community, InfoComm’s exhibitors have no one to sell their wares for them.
InfoComm needs to establish the value of CTS and APEx in the mind of the customer, not the integrator. I think they are working toward that goal, but success there is not an option.
If the customer assigns no concrete value to the credentials at hand, then the firm that invests in the credentials and all that comes along with them will be at a disadvantage to the low bidder who has not made a similar investment in their business.
So with that, there are really two stages to successfully riding this quality undercurrent to the shores of increased success for our AV businesses.
First, we need to agree on a standard or set of standards that are as cost effective as possible while promoting quality in the work we do as an industry. Maybe some more “collaboration”* between InfoComm and AVAQ is in order, as opposed to competition.
Second, we need to create more effective “unified communications”* to market these credentials to the buyers of AV systems as opposed to just marketing them to our own inner circle.
Then, and maybe then, the quality undercurrent will be “disruptive”* enough to winnow out those not completing systems as promised. That would be a true “game changer”*.
*”Buzz words” courtesy of every AV press release written in the last two years*