After a while of working with the same people in the same place you get a sense of familiarity, of family, and know how they will react to certain triggers the same way that you would your own brother, sister, or child. When you start at a new company you get the opportunity to ask some of the bigger picture questions that you’ve discussed continuously of new people and bring a completely new perspective into the fold.
On my first such occasion to bring those topics up to a new co-worker I went straight for the one that hits at the center of the industry these days – where are the next generation of AV professionals going to come from? The response I got wasn’t a unique idea, but the way that it was phrased got me thinking.
Technically minded people are flocking to my home region, Silicon Valley, for the opportunities that it provides in educational development, the support it offers to new tech companies, and the chance to go work for the top tech companies in the world. Competing with those companies for that kind of talent is a challenge that the AV industry as demonstrated that it isn’t up to win more often than not. So, how do we turn the tables on those that are after the same talent pool that many AV companies are looking to hire? Maybe it’s time to look to the excession event that alters the industry for the better and look at the bigger picture.
At the heart of every AV and technology solution in the world there is one thing – a control system. This is the core of the system in that it talks to all the end point devices, tracks and reports on any issues in the system and interacts directly with the end user through a surface of some kind. We are now, in the last decade, seeing these systems reaching out farther and farther beyond the AV systems and into the building systems as a whole.
Which sounds more appealing to someone looking to enter into the technology world – “You can work in one of the oldest technology fields, designing communication solutions that make business run from the smallest office to the largest conglomerate, creating creative spaces where great artists will perform and inspire, and constantly be at the bleeding edge of the technology people want in their lives.” Or, “You can work in the industry that designs how buildings run; the industry that is at the center of making every system work together to improve the lives of all those that come in contact with it.”
While both of these are designed marketing statements to appeal to the positive aspects of the world in which we have chosen to work, the second statement offers something that the first doesn’t – a vision of unlimited possibilities. To talk about AV to those up and coming in the world today evokes a stigma and limited understanding in regards to what it is that we actually do in modern system design and implementation, and offer to the technological world and in general.
It’s time to tear down the industry, not from a procedural or policy way, but in the way that we offer it to the highly technical youth that are emerging as potential hires as engineers, programmers, and designers. It’s time to shift the story away from our truly amazing systems and to the possibilities of what those systems create on a grander scale.
We can nerd-out over the pristine visual that is true 4K, the intense, chest-thumping feeling of a finely tuned PA solution in a performance venue, or the seamless integration allowing for the ever sought after “easy button” for our clients. There will always be audio and video-philes; those with unwavering standards of what AV should be, but those are fewer in number than the young technologist looking for career opportunities.
AV hasn’t been on a tv on a cart for a long time, and while many companies still make their bread and butter offering mostly repetitive “custom” solutions for corporations of all sorts, the story needs to make a drastic shift yet again. We are the heart of the building. We are the center point that makes buildings, and soon cities, run. All things return to a point where their automation must come back and talk to us.
So, young technologist, do you want to be a part of designing the building of the future? The buildings that track and monitor activity to create the best environment for the employees; the buildings that turn themselves on for you; the buildings that embrace the machine and automation process. Does that sound like a place you want to call home in your career? Welcome to the new AV industry.