January 18, 2019
by David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD
The velocity of change in our industry is stunning and it keeps gaining steam. Amazon’s Echo made its U.K. debut in 2016, now Alexa for Business aims to popularize voice control in meeting spaces. IHS Markit predicts 8K TV shipments will grow from virtually nothing to 2 million by 2020. Have you even upgraded your enterprise displays to 4K yet?
I don’t need to tell anyone preparing for Integrated Systems Europe 2019 that technology changes rapidly. So does your business, and so do your customers. Heck, your industry association is not immune from superfast change. We all need to figure out how to keep up with change — and capitalize on it.
Velocity is the name of the game in our industry. But let’s not forget that velocity is more than just speed. Velocity is speed plus direction. In what direction should we focus our efforts? How will we harness all this technological change and direct it toward the outcomes our customers really require?
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a book called Thank You for Being Late, which explores how the speed of change — especially technological change — has outpaced our ability to adapt. Ultimately, Friedman argues we shouldn’t tap the brakes on any of this rapid change, no matter how overwhelming. And he’s right. Here we are in the pro-AV industry, surrounded by technology that gets better, faster, and more capable at breakneck speed, and we’d be crazy to try and slow it down.
In fact, doing so would be bad for business. After all, it’s dynamic stability that keeps a bicycle upright. You have to keep peddling, or you’ll fall over. In Friedman’s book, he talks about an Olympic kayaker who says that any paddle instructor who advises you to “keep a paddle in the water” is doing you a disservice—you need to be moving fast to remain stable. What does that mean for our rapidly changing technology industry? As Friedman puts it, “the only way to steer is to paddle as fast or faster than the rate of change in technology.” And the real-world equivalent of paddling as fast as water is “innovation in everything other than technology.”
Everything other than technology.
In other words, the technology will take care of itself. Technology will rocket ahead and make unimaginable things real. How do you keep pace with changes in technology? More importantly, how do you help your customers keep pace? You do it by innovating around the experience. By taking that technology and reimaging what it can do for people. By listening to what they’re trying to achieve and then crafting a solution that gets them to the outcomes they seek. By mixing in the right content and designing for the unique space where the customer will experience your solution. The experience is the sum of those parts.
And experience is the basis of value. You go to your favorite restaurant and order a meal, not the meal’s ingredients. Your customers want the what of AV, not the how.
So, velocity is speed plus direction, and direction is our industry’s focus on experience as a means of innovating in the face of rapid change. But there’s another important equation to factor in: Velocity + Mass = Momentum.
In the business world, mass consists of processes and practices, company culture, existing alliances and customers, past successes, and more. Considering the velocity you intend to build, do you have the mass to maintain it? Are you selling solutions or products? Do you engage customers to understand their needs and design solutions with users at the heart? Is everybody in your company paddling in the same direction? They should be.
You’ve got speed under control: You have smart people on staff with the skills and certifications to understand and integrate all the new technology thrown at you.
You understand the direction you to need to go: By focusing your solutions on the AV experience, you’re in the best position to turn technology into outcomes.
Will that translate into success? Will it create the type of momentum you need to meet your own business goals? It will if the mass is right. Velocity, which is speed plus direction, plus mass, which is your company — how it’s aligned, what it believes — equals momentum. (Bet you weren’t expecting math and physics in your preparation for ISE.)
AVIXA is a living, evolving example of getting this equation right. It’s been more than a year since InfoComm International became AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. And in that time, we’ve been living the value of experience. This is our mass. It informs our market intelligence, content offerings, and member value. It’s the story we tell when we go into markets like retail, hospitality, and transportation and explain to decision-makers in those markets that audiovisual experiences deliver business value and elevate their relationships with customers.
The ultimate arbiter of the experience — and whether it created the right outcome — is the end user. That’s the person who needs to understand, appreciate, and ultimately affect greater investment in AV solutions. We all need to connect with those end users to understand their motivation. This is part of innovating around everything other than technology.
For many years, it was great to be in AV because the technology was so new and awesome, customers were buying it up, the industry was growing. All of that is still true, but to me, what’s great about being in AV today is what you’re going to do with the technology.
At AVIXA we believe audiovisual solutions can change the way people experience the world — and each other. We can help enhance human connections at a time when those connections are often mired in discord and misunderstanding. AV is not just about enabling communication, but also elevating it.
Yes, it’s about making sure the conference room works flawlessly and effectively, but it’s also about building experiences that lead to more accurate truths, better human connections, better personal relationships. What you do counts. Experience counts. It’s how you create value. It provides direction for all the fast-paced change in AV technology.
Enough math. Pencils down. Have a great ISE 2019.