AV Integrators are responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of audiovisual systems, so experience and technical knowledge are expected. The AV industry is also moving to a service model, where integrators provide ongoing support and insight for their clients. For this reason, companies also prioritize communication and professionalism in their integrator.
In short, there’s a lot to look for in a potential AV expert. Here are six things to consider:
An integrator needs experience to handle enterprise-scale AV solutions. Modern AV systems operate using a network of technologies, all working together cohesively to generate a compelling video or audio experience. Getting all of that technology to fit together seamlessly is a challenge, especially in an industry where there are dozens of hardware and software options for a single solution.
Experience communicates a few important things about an integrator. Experience means past clients, and those clients can be contacted for feedback and recommendations. Experience also means proven processes, as it’s difficult for an AV integrator to maintain their reputation without doing their job properly. Experience in the industry also means adaptability, because the AV industry has undergone major changes in just the last couple decades. If an integrator has a successful history in the field, that means it has adjusted time and again to meet new challenges. That kind of adaptability is useful when developing an AV solution, as obstacles do occasionally come up.
There are numerous industry certifications that can help AV professionals further their education and develop up-to-date skills. Some of these certifications, like the CTS certification through AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association), are respected across the industry and are noteworthy achievements.
For example, during CTS certification, AV professionals learn the fundamentals of developing and delivering an AV solution. This includes gathering information, conducting a site survey, designing an AV solution, handling installation of the solution, operating it, managing it and performing post-installation maintenance. These are the critical tasks in producing a reliable AV solution, so it’s worthwhile having CTS-certified technicians on hand.
Further, technicians that attain CTS certification can specialize in installation or design. Ideally, an AV integrator would have both on staff, so that they are able to develop advanced system designs and install them.
CTS certification is aimed at the individual professional, but there’s another layer of certification for integrators. AVIXA’s APEX certification is intended for integrators, and requires those integrators to meet several quality standards before certification. These standards are of immediate importance to potential clients because they concern things like positive customer surveys and additional AVIXA education. Integrators can also earn points toward AVIXA certification by maintaining a certain number of CTS-certified staff. AV integrators that have achieved AVIXA certification are in an elite class and are conforming to the industry’s best standards.
AV integration can take weeks or months to execute, and during this process, communication is critical. From the outset, AV integration involves communication between the integrator and client regarding the client’s needs, budget and timeline. If an integrator takes communication seriously they will provide solutions that better meet their clients’ needs.
If an AV solution is to be installed during construction, the integrator will need to work with other parts of the build team to position and install the equipment. The integrator will need to maintain communication with the build team to see this through.
A service mindset
The AV industry is transitioning to AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS), which is similar to the software-as-a-service model. With AVaaS, organizations aren’t required to make major capital investments in their AV solutions. Instead, they can opt into a monthly-payment model that allows organizations to better forecast their AV expenses and budgets.
With a traditional CapEX approach, companies are forced to invest in AV equipment upfront and take on all the risk. When upgrades or additions are needed, the organization must pay for those in full. With extra risk to take on and extra capital to deplete, the CapEX model means companies and schools are often limited in their ability to adopt AV solutions and get the most out of their AV budget.
AVaaS eliminates these hurdles and allows organizations much better control over their AV resources. For example, with AVaaS, a reliable integrator acts as their client’s technology partner, making recommendations and taking a long range approach for their client’s AV solutions. If equipment needs to be replaced or upgraded, an integrator will determine this long before the equipment causes problems. Further, with AVaaS, there’s no need to make capital investments in new technology, as monthly expenditures can be adjusted to account for it. In every way, AVaaS works with organizations and their budgeting goals instead of against them.
A willingness to provide ongoing support
AV solutions are designed to operate at the enterprise level, and enterprise solutions need ongoing maintenance to keep them running optimally. A reliable AV integrator is one that continues to partner with their client after the equipment has been installed and configured, because there’s still plenty to do.
For instance, training is usually required after an AV solution is deployed, as this will ensure the client’s staff is ready to utilize it properly. Further, early training is needed to drive system adoption, and this is essential for optimizing any AV investment. Integrators that prioritize this part of the process have a big picture approach that businesses and educators will find valuable.
Even years after the system is installed, regular maintenance will protect the organization’s investment. A service agreement through a reliable integrator, for example, often includes preventative maintenance. During preventative maintenance, the integrator will dispatch a technician to the client’s facilities. Once there, the technician will inspect any equipment covered under the agreement. If there are any performance issues noted by staff or caught by the technicians, they will be resolved to remove performance slowdowns. This can gain back precious hours every month for the organization, which has a quantifiable impact on its bottom line. Preventative maintenance occasionally catches technical issues that could lead to expensive downtime, and just resolving one of those errors in advance will make the cost of maintenance well worth it.
Reliability is a major priority for reputable integrators, and their clients. A service agreement provides it.
AV integration is an involved process, and one that requires a reliable expert to manage. As such, organizations should prioritize integrators that are excellent communicators, adaptable and experienced.