“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot
Are you communicating clearly to your modern clientele?
As any salesperson can tell you, their success is not only in what they say but how they say it. Like any press agent or writer, the language you use must take into account the intended audience. It does not help to use musical notation metaphors when your readership is comprised of non-musicians. While your subscribers may have a deep appreciation of bands, detailing the technical process of composition detracts.
The AV industry has seen remarkable changes in how and what we integrate. We started with bulky, limited scope proprietary systems which grew to include nearly all related technologies. As control and automation companies began to offer lighting, security, and environmental controls, what we said and how we described it to our clients had to evolve.
Creating an environment took on more meaning than creating a soundscape or visual envelopment. Stepping from fidelity and an experience of entertainment to utility required the vocabulary and storytelling of providing solutions, not just stimulation and satiation. Mom and Pop shops followed the mega stores in describing the benefits of day-lighting, sun sensitive shades, load shedding protections, multi-stage heating/cooling and analytic reporting. Whether you worked in the residential world, commercial installations, or a mixture of both, these terms became the lingua franca. The industry changed, even though most of us still focus on the glamorous full throated home theater systems; the ones that make the glossy trades.
Then there is the ongoing merger, Vgyr like, with IT. This has been discussed ad nauseam, but its ubiquity leads to another shift.
Change is upon us again as many of our clients are not looking for complete systems. Where once the idea of a dedicated set of hardware and software instilled confidence, often can be viewed as a detriment, the modern client wants to access a wider, more flexible array of ‘over the counter’ solutions. The Apple ecosystem and its imitators require the ability to incorporate the newest app or media delivery system with nary a signal flow redesign.
In Shifting Gears, Cecelia Tichi examines just how technology changes how we speak and how we write – often unconsciously. The book is a scholarly tome drawing on frequent references and example passages. In particular, Ms. Tichi focuses in on Jack London, a writer who consciously spoke in favor of wild places and the desire for society to be less technical. Even Mr. London, though, found the best description of the dog’s pounding and ever excited heart was to compare it to a combustion engine.
Technologists/Integrators still insist on framing the sale based on our assumptions of dedicated or custom systems. Yet, try as we might to not speak of the devil, the language of apps and CES-isms insist on being spoken. The major manufacturers of proprietary control systems have been peppering their press releases and product descriptions for some time.
This slow infiltration is a steady parlance creep that some of us have recognized and have changed our business models. Are you still hung up on the gloss or have you mastered the code switching?