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When IT Meets AV: How to Incorporate Audiovisual Services into Your Lineup: Page 3 of 4

Rising business demand and continuing technology convergence are pulling channel pros into the world of AV. By Carolyn Heinze
Reader ROI: 
AV AND IT are quickly converging, creating new opportunities for channel pros.
NEWCOMERS TO AV must either provide training to current team members or hire experienced professionals.
ATTENTION TO THE AUDIO SIDE of AV is crucial. What good is seeing a speaker without hearing his or her voice?
AV IS A GREAT PLACE TO PARTNER. You can scale a practice by leveraging the expertise of others.

Step 3: Bone Up on Audio

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of AV services for channel pros is mastering the complexities of sound and acoustics. “It has its own set of knowledge, which is one reason why bringing an existing integrator into an IT firm makes an awful lot of sense,” Stiernberg says. “They already understand audio.”

While a boardroom or a conference facility, or anyplace else people gather to present and share ideas, may not be a performance hall, it’s still a venue for live sound. Providers must take the acoustical properties of each space into consideration, as well as the configuration of the equipment that will eventually reinforce the sound quality.

Indeed, Rush argues that audio is more important than video. If you can see the person with whom you’re videoconferencing but can’t hear them, he notes, the meeting is pointless.

“You need to be up to speed on the different tradeoffs of these products to ensure you’re installing a quality audio system,” he says. “No one wants that call from a client saying there’s an important meeting going on in the boardroom and no one can hear the person on the other side, or that there’s an echo in the room or some other issue.”

Step 4: The Buck Stops When?

One surefire way IT providers can get themselves into trouble is not understanding how AV project lifecycles work. The time spans are longer than with other technologies and the deployments tend to be hardware-intensive, so a firm that provides integration services must have a firm grip on cash flow management.

“We had to make sure that we had enough lines of capital, because a lot of these projects are large, and customers don’t want to pay until everything is complete,” Ramsey explains. In the best scenarios, firms receive progress payments throughout system design and implementation, but the cash doesn’t always come in when you need it—like when the equipment bills come due.

“[Audio] has its own set of knowledge, which is one reason why bringing an existing integrator into an IT firm makes an awful lot of sense.”

JEANNE STIERNBERG, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT, STIERNBERG CONSULTING

/>“With IT services, you just go do the work and get out, and then you get paid. You have more cash flow [issues] to think about when you get into this type of business,” Ramsey says.

You must also establish a clear definition of what “project commissioning” means to ensure that, as a business partner, you don’t have to wait even longer for that final payment. Stiernberg notes that AV implementations often involve a considerable list of tasks that take place after installation is completed, such as system programming, troubleshooting, and employee training.

“When providers leave that venue … they become an ongoing resource for those customers,” she says. “The best integration firms build in ongoing training programs for end users.”

As users gain familiarity with these new technologies, they often come back to their AV integrator for system adjustments or to request new features and functionality. “It’s not just set it up and [you’re] done. It’s a living, breathing system that keeps changing,” Stiernberg says. That requires channel pros to draw clear lines between their initial project scope and the additional services the client may request once they complete the main deployment.

About the Author


CAROLYN HEINZE is a regular freelance contributor to ChannelPro-SMB.

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