Building speakers in garages...
Our industry is filled with fantastic stories of Custom Installers having started their business by building fully customized speakers from their garages. Just because what the mass market manufacturers produced wasn't good enough. These pioneers of our industry added real value to their passionately created audio installations. I have never seen a industry with so much passion and I am proud to be working in that industry.
Unfortunately, this creative power to add value to installations is at risk of rapidly becoming a lost trade. Technological advancements have enabled electronics manufacturers to create such smart devices that a full A/V and home automation installation can be replaced by something as small as a smartphone. Good news, we thought...
The way of the wizard
With open arms, we have welcomed this new technology in our industry and let ourselves be lulled into a sleepy state of comfort where 'smart technology' and 'easy install wizards' do all the work for us. We had no need to become an expert on things like networking as there is always some clever box with a wizard or brightly colored switch ports, that do the thinking for us...And it did!
Unfortunately, it also keeps us ignorant of the technology we are installing in our customers' houses and were have become clueless of how safe that remote access app actually is! In fact our lust for 'Easy' has resulted in installations we can't take ownership for or stand in for the safety. We have totally lost our pioneering spirit to the ease of technology...And it gets worse!
Robots taking over our jobs
We have recently seen a lot of publication in our industry press on IoT and GAFA. In case you haven't read them, it is well worth investing a few minutes to read them:
The days of AV and home automation as we know it are numbered!
Uberization – Time to Get Creative and Seize the Opportunity
The technology we have welcomed so warmly and made our life so easy has turned against us. First off all, those wizard install products were not designed for a professional installer, but for the DIY home installer. We don't add any value at all on these products.
They can easily be obtained by online one-click-ordering (Quicker then dialing a number of an installer) and when it is delivered on your doorstep the next day, the hardest thing you encounter is the unpacking. In three button clicks, a fully automated process has turned the contents of the brown delivery box into a fully operational, cloud ready, smartphone app operated, whole home sound system. And it can probably turn your lights on and off as well. How can we possibly compete with that?!?
On top of this, recent news of Lennar standardizing on Amazon is rapidly turning our industry upside down: Lennar's New Home-Automation Paradigm: Embracing Amazon Smart Home Services
What can we do to stay in business?
The landscape of our industry is changing so fast that we radically have to re-invent ourselves. We need to get back to when we were still passionate about the value we were adding. This passion is also recognized by our customers and they are willing to pay for the privilege. Customers gladly pay four times as much for an artisan crafted bread than they would for a factory loaf. Not to mention when it is organic, stone milled and sourdough. These passionate bakers hand-kneading these special breads add real value and taste to otherwise dull wheat products.
I am not suggesting we go back to soldering speaker-parts in our garages, but we need to take the spirit of those days and start adding real value to the installations again. The technology has changed our industry. If we want to survive, we need to adapt (quickly) and make that new technology our own.
Our customers do not hire us to do the three clicks on an retail device. They hire us to create a robust and secure installation. To do that, we need to invest in educating ourselves and not blindly rely on wizard or brightly colored Ethernet ports. We need to know what we are doing and not just do what we know.
A networking manufacturer point of view
As CEO of Niveo Professional, I have stayed true to our philosophy that we want to make the best networking equipment possible. The last thing we want to is to make equipment dumber. We leave that to the retail companies, with end user designed wizards. We want to educate our installers to make the best networks possible. In doing this, both our installers and us are creating true value. We have setup an extensive training program that helps installers to further professionalize and gain control over the technology.
Educate yourself on new tech: It pays off!
Our entire industry is based on IP networking. We can no longer get away with wizards and black boxes and charge our customers for it. We need to know what we are doing and how we can make the best integrations possible.
Both Cedia and Infocomm offer great introduction courses to learn the basics of networking.
Niveo Professional is a manufacturer of enterprise network equipment for the commercial and residential AV industry, backed by over 15 years in the industry. Niveo Professional offers switches, wireless access points & controllers, firewall routers, PDU's, UPS's ad more all designed for Professional AV installations. NIVEO products are manufacturered with the highest quality standards in mind to assure long-lasting performance.
View additional information on the NIVEO Brand and NIVEO Products HERE or contact your Liberty Support Team at 800.530.8998 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Cedia 2017: Make or Break Year for our Industry
Visit us at Cedia 2017: ETechA & FRS Booth #1725 and Liberty AV Booth #4529