“11 Ways the Integration Business Will Change This Decade” is a wide-ranging analysis by NSCA board members of the future of integration, originally published in the special Pivot to Profit+ section of the Q3 2021 edition of our quarterly trade journal, Integrate. This column discusses the future of AV tech partnerships.
It’s time to evolve the traditional integration business model—or risk being left behind by your customers.
How have people traditionally purchased technology? Contact a vendor and describe the challenge. The integrator then engages a design/build process to come up with a bespoke solution that addresses the challenge. Perhaps the integrator brings on a value-add of post-installation services or the two agree to an SLA for support. All in all, this has been a traditionally successful way to move a client through the technology lifecycle project-by-project. Now, how does the same client today—with more increasing regularity—purchase technology, clothing, cars, fitness memberships, and more in their personal lives? Through experience-based offerings.
The traditional model of offering fantastic customer experience is not enough any longer. People are interested in the business of experience.
The business of experience (BX, or business experience) covers more than just website design and a path to purchase; it’s the very nature of how products are bought and consumed. We were always heading in this direction, but the pandemic advanced it. Companies like Peloton, Stitch Fix, even Tesla all pivoted to reconsider how the very act of the purchase can be completed. Why is AV any different?
Consider the way people buy the Apple experience. That person has access to FaceTime on any number of devices (desktops at work, laptops at home, iPads, phones, etc.). An AV or UC company that can succeed in providing and supporting a collaboration and communication experience for their client first will be the one developing a future leaning partnership. Instead of considering the conference room and what devices should be populated in it, consider what the client is trying to do and simply provide that service for a monthly subscription. Then, the technology that supports that platform is secondary and is able to be agile as their company, paths of communication, and technology change.
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Some call this UCaaS, but it goes beyond that. Sure, we can sell technology as a lease and wrap service and support into it, but all we’re doing is offering a financed package. We need to shift the way in which we view our offerings. Just like Peloton, people are paying for the experience of Peloton. The bike, treadmill, etc. is just the tech that supports the experience. As AV technology becomes more compute-based, networked-based, and remotely supported, it has also become more flexible and agile. The days of needing a purpose-built codec are dwindling, PoE speakers will become the norm, and endpoints can be added as needed.
Any stakeholder wants to feel confident in the task handed to them. It’s our job to get that person to focus and feel confident in the experience they will be purchasing—not the tech. To be sure, the integrator that can do so will see a strong revenue stream for years. The future of AV tech is, in fact, commoditization. The technology partnerships we seek won’t be from the tech, but the experience we provide.
Andrew Dorman is a sales engineer at New Era Technology. He worked closely with Michael Boettcher, NSCA president.