Evolve to Survive: Why You Need to Be the Network Expert

Matt Scott
Aug 16, 2013

CEDIA EXPO is on its way, and we're really starting to see people getting excited. My email is quickly becoming saturated with press releases, invitations to connect, etc.

Everywhere I turn, people want to network. That is one of my favorite parts of attending EXPO; I love being able to network with so many other great people in our industry.

But let's think about that that last sentence for a moment.

Everyone likes to network either on the floor or after the floor closes, but that isn't the only kind of networking that will be happening at CEDIA EXPO in Denver. Guess what? There will be another push to get all us audio/video geeks to embrace the NETWORK! It's going to be pushed on you at most booths, and many booths will focus exclusively on the network.

Unfortunately, most attendees will stroll past these booths and gloss over the networking talking points in every other booth just like they did last year in Indianapolis.

Mastering the Network

Last year, one of the themes at CEDIA EXPO was "Own the Network. Own the Home.” Yet from what I'm seeing on a day-to-day basis, not too many of us got the memo.

As we get closer to this year's CEDIA EXPO in Denver, our good friends are asking, "How are you going to adapt to the evolving industry?" To me this is a perfect follow-up to last year’s theme, as almost every evolving technology is utilizing the network in some way. It's time we get on board and really understand how networking works and how it will affect our business.

Part of what got me on this soapbox was a recent project we worked on. The homeowner had a simple network setup with an Internet modem and cable company phone modem. Pretty standard stuff.

We weren't even touching their network at this stage in the project, but they had decided to change over to VOIP for their phone service. Now in the past, if you were changing your phone, Internet, or TV services, that meant that the telco would send out a tech to update or switch over your service. Or if you were a real DIY customer, you might run down to Staples, pick up a Vonage modem, come home and hook it up.

These days that's not the only option. If you weren't aware, there has been a lot of deregulation happening in this industry, especially up here in Canada! What we're now seeing is a bunch of resellers selling services that piggyback on other systems. Now that's not this issue; the issue lies in the fact that many of these systems utilize local franchisees or MLM. And guess who installs for them? Not slightly trained phone or cable company installers, but anyone they decide to hire. So that means your clients never know what they're going to get.

Furthermore, what this means for you is that you're going to be walking into many more, shall we say, interesting network situations. As our networks evolve and our systems continue to increase their reliance on these networks, we as an industry really need to step it up and learn the basic skills and continue to advance our skills in this area.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

We recently ran across an issue caused by this exact type of thing. The client had ordered some new systems that were installed without informing us of the changes.

Well the next time we were on site, guess what: the network was very unreliable and, at times, completely useless. That’s pretty annoying when most of our sub-systems require it. After one of my techs worked on it for a bit and then I got involved in diagnosing the problem, we discovered that the earlier installer seemed to think a crossover cable was needed between a switch that didn't require or like the crossover cable.

We solved that issue, but it was just another great example of why we as A/V integrators need to continue to stay at least current, if not ahead of the curve, when it comes to the ever-expanding network.

This is where CEDIA plays such an important role. With so many great courses at CEDIA EXPO, you are able to ensure you've got a great foundation of the basics of networking. If you're smarter than the average bear, they offer courses that will allow you to hone your mad networking skills. No matter where you're at in skills, CEDIA EXPO has got the course for you!

Just as we want to continue to see amazing advances in our field, we've got to make a commitment to continue to advance ourselves. So get your flight booked, and come learn something with me on the CEDIA EXPO tradeshow floor in the Mile High City! Hit me up when you get here at @mattdscott or @omegaaudiovideo.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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