A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships: Why integrators should learn from one another

Posted on July 31, 2017 in Blog by

AV systems integrators, NSCA

By

NSCA, systems integration

low voltage contractors

Whether it’s after an annual Business & Leadership Conference, or after a conversation with a
member, it’s easy to catch the buzz of the integration space and think about how bright the future
looks.  One takeaway I constantly experience is the power of our industry as a whole.  In a small
industry like ours, it is sometimes natural instinct to be protective of what we do.  A lot of us believe
that we have some type of “secret sauce” that sets us apart.  But I often hear those protective vests
come off, especially at events like the Business & Leadership Conference, where integrators open
up and share what works (and what doesn’t).

The thought leaders and speakers provide amazing food for thought at our conferences, but I think
some of the extremely intimate, member-to-member conversations about their businesses may
be the most valuable conversations for many.

One of the themes I often talk about is the rapid rate of change that affects how we run our
businesses.  It’s hard to keep up with technolgoical shifts while simultaneously trying to train
staff, win sales and run a profitable business.  This is the challenge for any business, but for us,
change is happening very quickly.  We have long been in technology, but we benefitted for many
years from being an industry where our implementations were more iterative than disrutpive.  But
now it feels much different.

We are hybrid IT, AV and security shops.  We need expertise about more than just control systems.
We need to know IoT, Big Data and the cloud, and they’re all supposed to be in our wheelhouse.
When we are amidst a run of success, we’re often limited in the amount of time we have to stay
up to date on education requirements.  It’s a whirlwind!

I believe that everyone in our industry needs to lean on one another, now more than ever before,
to gain insights and hone best practices.  This will keep us not only relevant, but also successful.

They say that “a rising tide raises all ships,” and I couldn’t agree more.  I believe that, the better
each integrator does, the better our industry looks.  When a customer has a bad experience with
one or two integration firms, it reflects on our industry as a whole.  By leveraging the best ideas
and successes of integrators across vast geographies and verticals, we can apply that
knowledge to our project to deliver a better experience.

As much as we talk about that “secrect sauce,” I can say with confidence that the things
separating the best integrators from the otehrs are almost always small, but significant,
practices.  “The devil is in the details,” as they say, and I happen to agree.  In most cases, the
best and the rest are separated by a few small things they do better: delivering on time more
frequently, or even just being more responsive to customer needs, for example.

Each year at the Business & Leadership Conference, we reward integrators that have no only
completed some of the finest projects in the land, but have also taken risks to change practices,
shift the way they do business and try new things to improve the customer experience and the
bottom line.

Our Excellence in Business awards recognize the very best of the best.  This recognition is a
reflection of an opportunity for integrators to collaborate on how we can all do better.  We have
far more to gain by working together and sharing best practices than we have to lose by holding
our secrets close to our vests.

I don’t think we should give away legitimate trade secrets, but I genuinely believe we can help
each other by sharing, learning and growing as an industry.  We can get there by talking about
the seemingly “little” things we’re doing better or that have helped us achieve greater levels of
profitability.  Here are a few examples from our Excellence in Business aware winners:

  • Live! Technologies, winner in the Business Performance category, identified trends and
    opportunities, and then created initiatives to address them.
  • Conference Technologies, Inc., winner in the Customer Experience category, changed the
    volume and frequency of gathering customer feedback.
  • Atrion, winner in the Differentiating Strategies category, created a system that helped
    staff identify customer who deserved more time and attention.
  • ClearTech, winner in the Strategic Transformation category, launched a new managed
    services program.
  • Unified AV Systems, winner in the Employee Engagement category, took steps to
    recognize employees and increase engagement.

None of these ideas is so earth shattering that we haven’t thought about them ourselves.  The
difference is that these companies noticed a potential problem and then took steps to
address it instead of relying on the status quo.  We can all learn from what these integrator
have done to improve business and boost the bottom line.

Here is a link to the original story – A Rising Tides Lifts All Ships: Why integrators should learn from one another


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