At Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam earlier this year, I was catching up with a colleague in the industry I’ve known for many years. He’s held leadership positions at a couple of major display technology manufacturers and recently landed at an impressive startup with what I thought was a fresh take on the newly popular touchscreen collaborative display market. His company sells innovative products, and he was happy to demonstrate what makes them different (I was impressed), but as we sat down to talk, he wanted to talk about solutions. Not the products themselves or the underpinning technologies, but the problems they solve and the challenges to effective collaboration they address. And it wasn’t just about the fact that the products solve problems; it was that the way to sell the products is to sell the solutions.
A little confusing? It’s not a novel idea; just one that perhaps hasn’t yet permeated commercial AV. Part of that may be because the commoditization of AV functionality is relatively new. Ask IT companies what they did years ago when PCs, servers and storage became commodities: They evolved into solution providers. To be fair, there are many companies in this industry that have embraced their role as partners to their customers, understanding their needs, and designing and integrating solutions that meet those needs.
It has been InfoComm’s position that this a critical pivot for the industry at a time when AV technology has taken its rightful place in enterprise technology strategies, and enterprise customers demand more than just the latest specs. It’s part of our most current strategic plan, ratified by our board last year. We plan to create content and programs that focus the conversation in the AV industry on solutions and experiences that deliver outcomes for end users. In today’s industry, it’s hard to thrive simply by selling technology.
To some, that’s easier said than done.