2020 will long be remembered as the year that the world changed. We are living through times that are unprecedented and hopefully, will not be experienced again for a very long time. As all of us adjust to this new reality that likely includes becoming a remote worker (and in many cases a home teacher), we will begin to long for some normalcy. Over these next few weeks, we may find that we have the opportunity to do the things we always wanted to, but never had the time. I have put together some thoughts about how to spend some of that time.
Whether we are in a period of robust growth or a recession, there is never a bad time for education. Our industry is responding with a variety of training opportunities that range in cost (including some that are free) and flexibility.
First and foremost amongst those is AVIXA. AVIXA has announced that all online training is free to people, no matter their membership level. That includes people who don’t have any membership with AVIXA at all. If you are not a member, you can sign up as a free basic member and get these online courses for free. We often talk about how to get more people into the AV industry; here is an opportunity for new people to get involved. It’s also a good opportunity to think about those people in your business who don’t get into the technical work (business managers, receptionists) to learn more about the industry they are in. Get more information about these offerings here.
Other companies are doing similar things. QSC is advertising that they have always had free online training and continue to do so. You can earn RUs along with getting certification. Crestron, Extron and others have canceled most of their in-person training, and instead have moved to doing so via video conferencing. These are not all free, but certainly you will save money and time by not having to travel to the training locations.
Offering this training to your staff is a great way to use this time for good. For a very small investment, you could have a staff that is certified in a number of products and ready to take the CTS. This is something that you likely would not have had the time or money to do during regular operations. If you are a staff member in a firm, and are worried about your future, training and certification will only improve your marketability once this has passed.
rAVe has an ongoing blog that lists the events around the industry that are being either canceled or postponed. Some of these are going online — pay attention to the list and you may have access to events that you could not have attended otherwise because of the cost of travel. I would also encourage rAVe to start another blog that lists manufacturers that are providing free or reduced-cost training. This would be an enormous service to the AV community. I get emails about these on a regular basis, but honestly, there are just too many emails to keep track of. A central location would be ideal.
What about those new services or offerings that you have been thinking about? Over the past several months I have posted blogs on AVaaS, universal design and digital transformation. These slower times are excellent opportunities to investigate these potential offerings. We know that many businesses will change due to this virus. It may be the one factor that pushes many businesses to fully engage in digital transformation to keep their businesses viable. It is a great time for you to think about your operations and how you can change them to both survive the current crisis, and then thrive once we are through this? You may have also been thinking about different services you could offer. AVaaS could be one of those new offerings. Many technology managers may be wishing right now they had remote access to control and manage their environments. This would allow them to have some staff be safe and work from home, but still support the operations. Now is a great time to understand how you could build such a service. Listen Technologies has also spun up a number of webinars that relate to ADA regulations and accessibility. Now is the perfect time to begin thinking about true universal design and how to start incorporating it in all your new designs.
Finally, it is a great time to strengthen the relationships you have with your customers. As many get over the frenetic pace of moving all their work to a home location, they will start to see some slower times. Reach out to your customers. Offer to show them products or services that you were going to show at InfoComm. Now that we know the show is canceled, spend time thinking about how to present your booth virtually. Listen to what their needs are, what their expectations are for needs over the next year. This is a great industry we are all part of, and we have a strong community. I expect that we will come out of this situation with even stronger relationships.