A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships: Why Integrators Should Learn From One Another

Whether it’s after an annual Business & Leadership Conference or after a conversation with a member, it’s easy to catch the buzz of the integration space and think about how bright the future looks.

One takeaway I constantly experience is the power of our industry as a whole. In a small industry like ours, it is sometimes natural instinct to be protective of what we do. A lot of us believe that we have some type of “secret sauce” that sets us apart. But I often hear those protective vests come off, especially at events like the Business & Leadership Conference, where integrators open up and share what works (and what doesn’t).

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The thought leaders and speakers provide amazing food for thought at our conferences, but I think some of the extremely intimate, member-to-member conversations about their businesses may be the most valuable conversations for many.

One of the themes I often talk about is the rapid rate of change that affects how we run our businesses. It’s hard to keep up with technological shifts while simultaneously trying to train staff, win sales and run a profitable business. This is the challenge for any business, but for us, change is happening very quickly. We have long been in technology, but we benefitted for many years from being an industry where our implementations were more iterative than disruptive. But now it feels much different.

We are hybrid IT, AV and security shops. We need expertise about more than just control systems. We need to know IoT, Big Data and the cloud, and they’re all supposed to be in our wheelhouse. When we are amidst a run of success, we’re often limited in the amount of time we have to stay up to date on education requirements. It’s a whirlwind!

I believe that everyone in our industry needs to lean on one another, now more than ever before, to gain insights and hone best practices. This will keep us not only relevant, but also successful.

They say that “a rising tide lifts all ships,” and I couldn’t agree more. I believe that, the better each integrator does, the better our industry looks. When a customer has a bad experience with one or two integration firms, it reflects on our industry as a whole. By leveraging the best ideas and successes of integrators across vast geographies and verticals, we can apply that knowledge to our projects to deliver a better experience.

As much as we talk about that “secret sauce,” I can say with confidence that the things separating the best integrators from the others are almost always small, but significant, practices. “The devil is in the details,” as they say, and I happen to agree. In most cases, the best and the rest are separated by a few small things they do better: delivering on time more frequently, or even just being more responsive to customer needs, for example.

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