We’re now over a month beyond CEDIA 2017 in San Diego, and one of the resonant takeaways from the show is a return to the “maker mentality” — the true definition of “integration.” In the face of GAFA (the catchall term for Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple), more and more technology professionals have come to understand that every challenge brings an attendant opportunity.
As the show was wrapping up, Walt Zerbe, CEDIA’s recently minted Sr. Director of Technology and Standards, noted that an old vibe had returned: “I guess if I had to sum it up: When CEDIA first started out, it was very much kind of a maker thing. You had to grab your parts and make your own solutions. And it feels like that’s maker thing’s alive again.
“I can grab all these different devices — and my expertise is making them all do something together, and give somebody an experience."
It’s a clarion call that’s been sounded from many different corners of the CEDIA universe. One of the biggest evangelists of embracing the new playing field as a new opportunity is Bruno Napoli, whose Krika Concierge service bills itself as “your clients’ first line of support.” In a blog post shortly after the show, Napoli stressed the need for “focusing more on experience than technology,” to paraphrase.
So Where’s the Next Conversation Happening?
Zerbe expanded his take from the show floor in San Diego: “The general vibe, the buzz is back. Everywhere I go — people were hungry for information, asking great questions. They’re looking forward to changing their businesses, changing their mindset to ‘You know what? This thing I never thought of before could be a business opportunity.’”
When pressed — Are you speaking about the new Amazon initiative with CEDIA specifically? — Zerbe went deeper. “It’s beyond that. It’s Aging in Place; it’s as simple as understanding that, say, lighting systems could bring in more business.” (Many of us marveled when Sam Woodward of Lutron, during a CEDIA Talk, asked how many attendees made lighting control part of their pitch when talking to new customers — and seeing how few hands went up.)
In addition to the CEDIA Tech Council podcast — which has done a pretty extensive job of covering the issues of this seismic shift in the CEDIA channel, thankyouverymuch — a number of voices have made themselves heard via the online CEDIA Community. It’s a members-only space that businesspeople like Napoli take full advantage of, linking to the blog on the Krika site.
Interested in the Podcast? Listen here.
Now that the annual “family reunion” we call the CEDIA show has passed, integrators are livening up the Community site to keep talking about issues like GAFA — and day-to-day ops issues, too. As Brenden Reid of New Zealand’s Automation Associates told us, “The online CEDIA Community forum is extremely good and very immediate. I needed a phrase to use on a legal document last month and had three suggestions from fellow members within 24 hours.”
Another place to connect and share: CEDIA Groups. These are small — perhaps five or six — groups of integrators that get together via video or teleconference on a regular basis, sharing ideas, challenges, successes, and solutions. Since every group can be structured so that no two integrators on a call are servicing the same market, there’s little worry of spilling trade secrets to a direct competitor.
These focused interactions can spotlight big issues like the GAFA challenge, or more intimate ones: There’s a CEDIA Group of women only — and women whose spouses are also involved in CEDIA-channel businesses. As Lynda Polk (Audio Video Guys, Houston) told us last year
: “We’ve got a diverse mix of strengths and personalities, and the small group allows each of us an opportunity to be heard when we get together.”
As the DIY landscape grows rockier (and adds more letters to acronyms like GAFA, DIWM, and DIFM), one big key will be industry-wide communication. As it has for decades, the independent entrepreneurial spirit that gave birth to CEDIA will be the thing that keeps it rolling forward, even though the road gets curvier (and occasionally shrouded in fog). Your fellow members are here to help you navigate that road.