Design Assist

I’m really looking forward to Crestron Masters in Madrid next week. The very fact that this event now has a Keynote speaker reflects the change in this event over the years I have attended.

At my first masters there was no Keynote speaker but a Crestron Staffer filled the space very well, masters were altogether smaller affairs in those days.

I followed on twitter from afar Masters 2019 in the US and picked up that Danny Forster and Architect and TV personality was chosen as the 2019 Keynote. I guess for guys in the UK Danny is the equivalent of a mix of Richard Rogers and Kevin McCloud.

I don’t know if we have a seperate keynote speaker next week in Madrid ( will update later!) or if we will be seeing Danny’s full keynote.

I had a glimpse of some of his key points but have not heard the full keynote.

Two items stuck with me which I think are really interesting. The first is what audio visual companies call themselves. The term in Integrator has become the go to title for the industry with the term Dealer.

Leading audio visual companies in the UK all use this terminology although I find myself having to regularly explain “What is an Integrator” to end users and design professionals.

I have always found the term dealer to be very accurate for some smaller companies as it sometimes it accurately describes the process of selling boxes without understanding the aspect of integration which is key to our industry. I think it is for this very reason that companies moved to the word Integrator i guess meaning an organisation who has expertise in integrating audio visual equipment. Before Dealers we had a lot of companies with Consultants in their business name or description Consultants in the industry! These business like my own usually offered a chargeable design service as part of their business model but more often than not any design work was an internal process supporting the Sales or delivery of projects.

Of Course we still have consultants in the Industry but the term has changed to describe companies who provide consultancy as their sole or primary service. Many IT and building service consultancies have opened dedicated AV departments and of course some dedicated Audio visual consultants exist within the industry.

I wonder what the marketing guys will come up with next in the year that has seen Infocomm become Avixa.

Maybe we will all become storytellers , or experience engineers!

I think that with the convergence of IT , Collaboration and AV we need to get better at explaining what we do!

The other thing that I found interesting in was the mention of Design Assist. Both in the Lighting Industry and in the Audio visual industry it’s a conversation I have had with many other design professionals throughout the years. The conversations about needing help far outnumber the number of times that we are engaged at an early stage to assist with design.

The video posted via the CI website talks around the early involvement of integrators in the design process.

I offer design as one of my four core services, as an engineer I sell professional services to others in the Audio Visual and Electrical Services industries. My clients are mainly integrators but we do have some relationships with end users and with design professionals who engage us to provide technical expertise to a project.

I have seen over the years so many times the problem when a company brings it’s sales focus early into the design stage of a project. Conversations become about boxes rather than function. Early designs become fixed in architecture meaning only one solution will fit when th project goes to tender later.

It seems to me CSP’s are very well placed to serve Danny’s need for design assist or sometimes know as early contractor involvement.

However if architects or indeed consultants in the industry don’t have this expertise in-house then they need to engage contractually with the experts they need, there is no such thing as a free lunch and free design funded by the promise of future sales or manufacturer tie in is worth little to the process.

Design assist is based on the premise that engaging the delivery team in the design process will have an overall benefit on the whole project. Coming back to the first section around what an integrator does then this related directly into the Design assist discussion.

There is a huge variety of different expertise, specialist capabilities and depth of knowledge  within  AV companies ( I am separating our professional service companies from companies that sell hardware). Interestingly when selecting a company to engage in the design process the selection criteria vary from who you might choose to deliver that solution the skills are different. You don’t need excellent warehousing and logistics to design a great AV system.

We, like many independent service providers, do Design and Delivery, we don’t sell hardware. Our core services of Design, Development, Deployment and Maintain are all hardware agnostic.

Many companies who do sell hardware have the ability to design and  integrate either through in-house expertise or through relationships with service providers like us.

The key to this working either with a service provider or a companies Design resource is and always has been the difference between Design assist and manufacturer or dealer based “free” design.

I think ? Danny and I agree on this!

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