A One-Stop Resource for Building a Successful Audiovisual Practice
By Kate Hunt
The days of chalkboards and film strip projectors are long past, especially when it comes to professional business meetings and the corporate boardroom. The latest technologies have taken over practically every classroom, courtroom, hospital and other location (or space) where a presentation can be conducted. In much the same manner that tablets and smartphones have enabled new video and communications modes, AV equipment and solutions have evolved to meet today’s business and organizational needs.
That shift in technology includes a number of new network-connected devices and applications, converged systems that make implementation a challenge for many SMB organizations. Those businesses are less likely to employ AV experts or those with the training to understand the complexities involved in implementing and supporting these solutions. That’s the role a qualified MSP or VAR can fill, offering a variety of services and a portfolio of network-connected solutions, including:
- Projection devices
- Plasma screens
- Digital signage
- Media streaming and webcasting
- Teleconferencing systems (meeting rooms and single-user based)
- Speakers/sound equipment
- Project management
- Managed services (proactive support)
In contrast to other industry sectors, the worldwide AV products and services market potential is flourishing, predicted to climb from $78 billion this year to more than $115 billion by 2015. The 14 percent annual growth rate for that period, according to Acclaro Growth Partners, outpaces the 11 percent per annum increase experienced during the previous three years.
Those increases aren’t exclusive to the traditional AV-heavy organizations either, such as education and health care, as demand continues to build across all vertical markets. Businesses also benefit from these presentation and communication tools, using the technology to enhance the efforts of their sales, marketing and training teams. An innovative solution provider may integrate video conferencing, telepresence and digital signage solutions with a unified communications or VoIP system, creating a variety of valuable communications or operations platforms. Mobility adds another level of complexity and value, extending video meeting capabilities to the most remote worker or webinar attendee.
Get Help With Your AV Expertise
Those interested in offering their clients comprehensive audiovisual solutions have three principal options: buy an existing AV practice, build one from scratch or partner with a reputable provider. While the affiliation route seems to be a popular choice among solution providers, others prefer to keep the revenue (and expertise) in-house. Regardless of the direction providers take, they and/or their partners must be knowledgeable on the latest audiovisual solutions, be able to implement beneficial solutions that their clients need and offer quality support services to keep them running. To gain those competencies, IT firms need to employ AV specialists with the ability to effectively identify and address each business’s unique needs with the appropriate solutions.
To take full advantage of the audiovisual opportunities in their market, each individual solution provider business must create their own individual plan of attack. AV specialists leverage a number of strategies to build successful specialty practices, including:
- Focus on the benefits of convergence. Leveraging data, network and security technologies can increase the flexibility and value of an organization’s solution portfolio.
- Address critical business drivers. By building and delivering the services that business customers want and need, providers can secure long-term sales success.
- Integrate tablets and smartphones. Mobile solutions allow business customers to get the most from their audiovisual technology investments, with little regard for location or time. That’s not only more convenient for workers and company employees, it improves productivity and customer satisfaction as well.
- Target active vertical markets. Focus on the key customers and industries that value AV technologies, such as education and health care. Vertical solutions are more repeatable than general applications, easing both the time and substantial costs associated with one-off project design and development.
You’ll find a lot more details on AV practice construction in the CompTIA Quick Start Guide, Audiovisual Integration Opportunities; A Practical Guide for Solution Providers. Created by the members of the Unified Communications (UC) Community, this comprehensive narrative is targeted to those looking to construct their own AV practice or enhance an existing specialty business. It’s packed with valuable tips and best practices to guide solution providers who are serious about the audiovisual field, helping them make a quick but major impact without a major financial investment.
For VARs and MSPs seriously interested in expanding their practices, there’s no substitute for great peer-to-peer networking and discussions. The member-led CompTIA Communities give like-minded solution providers a platform to share their thoughts and challenges, and get answers to questions that prevent them from reaching full potential.
Interested in learning more about the Unified Communications Community, what we’re doing to help foster audiovisual practices, or to contribute to valuable initiatives that help shape our industry? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Hunt, director of communities, CompTIA, manages the association’s Cloud Community and Unified Communications Community, helping them identify and act on initiatives that will positively impact the entire IT channel. She has spent most of the past decade in the IT channel exclusively and previously served in various roles for VAR companies, channel vendors and channel training organizations.
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