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How To Choose An AV Integrator

What should organizations look for when choosing an AV integrator?

AV integrators are responsible for complex, public-facing systems, so you’ll want a reliable AV expert to execute your organization’s projects. A reliable integrator gets the job done on time, on budget and with options for ongoing support, so your solution remains viable well into the future.

Finding a reliable AV integrator is the goal, and to do that, organizations should focus on a few things, including:

  • Experience
  • Certifications
  • Versatility, in both solutions and post-installation support

Why is experience essential for an AV integrator?

Most AV solutions are technically involved projects, and they usually need to be integrated with other systems, so there’s no room for guesswork. Experience is what integrators require so they don’t have to guess at anything, and that means a better outcome for their clients. What are some other reasons experience is necessary?

1. It ensures the integrator can provide accurate time and cost estimates

The more experience an integrator has, the better they will be at accurately assessing a project’s cost and timeline. In this instance, experience exposes integrators to a variety of working conditions, which provides insight that newer integrators won’t have.

2. With experience, integrators can maintain up to date product knowledge

It’s essential for an integrator to remain current with product and design knowledge. This ensures an integrator will provide an optimal solution for their clients. With experience, it will be easier for integrators to leverage their expertise and network to stay up to date on AV trends.

3. Experience also allows integrators to apply their knowledge during training and configuration

With time, AV integrators learn about the kind of clients they work with. Eventually, an integrator will be able to forecast what their clients will need and what challenges they will run into. This will lead to more effective training and more precise system configuration.

Why is certification also important for an integrator?

In addition to experience, the AV industry offers ample opportunities for integrators to expand and specialize their knowledge. Integrators attain certification to remain competitive in their field and to ensure clients get modern solutions.

The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, or AVIXA, is the primary industry association for AV integrators, and its APEx certification is sought after by many. APEx stands for AV Provider of Excellence, and to attain it, AV integrators must demonstrate their commitment to the industry in several ways. For example, to become APEx certified, integrators must:

  • Prove their conformance to AVIXA standards, which are considered best practices by reputable integrators.
  • Receive positive customer survey responses.
  • Complete ongoing educational courses that are AVIXA-created or approved.
  • Maintain compliance with the AVIXA Core Value Agreement, which specifies what services and practices APEx integrators must offer.
  • Attain AVIXA certifications (CTS, CTS-D, CTS-I) or attain other approved certifications.

Only reputable, experienced integrators can manage this, so APEx certification is an important mark of competence. That last point is particularly important, because CTS-certified technicians and designers are well-rounded in their industry-specific knowledge.

During CTS-D certification, for example, applicants must pass an examination to prove their knowledge and skills. Some of those skills include:

  • Identifying the people who will use the system and designing it for them.
  • Reviewing architectural and engineering drawings.
  • Coordinating with other build teams, such as the electrical, lighting and structural teams.
  • Drafting designs.
  • Confirming site conditions.
  • Producing AV system and infrastructure drawings.
  • Assisting with project implementation and conducting closeout activities.

These tasks are essential to proper AV system design, and APEx certification is an effective way to verify a designer’s ability.

What support and solutions should AV integrators offer?

Reputable integrators are also marked by their versatility, as they can offer an array of solutions designed for a variety of settings. For instance, organizations should expect their integrator to offer the following:

  • Video conferencing solutions, ranging from huddle rooms to auditoriums.
  • Digital signage solutions, which can be scaled from small and medium businesses to enterprises and education campuses.
  • Video streaming solutions, including all-in-one video and audio recording technologies, for distance learning and remote presentations.
  • Projectors and displays, which can be used for presentations, lesson delivery or to otherwise capture attention.
  • Interactive whiteboards, which are an effective educational tool in K-12 schools.
  • Interactive activity spaces, which can get kids moving and learning using gamifying technology.
  • Temperature check kiosks, which can be used to detect potentially ill people from a distance.

That’s a short list of what AV integrators can work with, and in addition to modern technologies, integrators can also provide support during and after integration. Reputable integrators stand behind their work and look to build long-term partnerships, which they do through a maintenance agreement.

With a maintenance agreement, organizations can access their integrator’s expertise in the following ways:

Remote and onsite technical support

If issues emerge with any covered AV assets, the integrator will first attempt to resolve it remotely, through e-mail or over the phone. Clients have unlimited remote support access through their maintenance agreement. If remote assistance doesn’t resolve the issue, a technician will be dispatched to the client’s facility to gather more information and correct the problem.

Preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance is an add-on for most maintenance agreements, but it is a valuable one. Anything covered under the agreement is evaluated by a technician several times throughout the year, whether there are issues or not. The asset’s performance is checked, and if it’s running at less than optimal capacity the technician will gather diagnostic information and attempt to resolve the problem. This approach is valuable to minimizing downtime.

Training

A maintenance agreement may come with additional training sessions, so organizations can quickly train new hires or refresh employees on the technology.

Warranty and shipping assistance

To extract maximum value out of every AV asset, it’s best to take advantage of manufacturer warranties. An AV integrator can take the lead here, processing warranties and ensuring all hardware is shipped and returned promptly.

AV projects are involved and difficult to manage without the proper training and expertise. That’s why organizations, whether commercial or educational, should consider launching their AV solution with the help of an experienced and certified integrator.

Robby