Top 5 Higher Ed Market Integrators
Cutting-edge A/V and IT technologies are crucial components for colleges and universities recruiting prospective students. These five firms top the 2013 CI Industry Leaders in the Higher Ed category.

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CI Industry Leaders
August 13, 2013 By Cindy Davis

According to a recent report by The College Board, the 2012-13 school year saw four-year public college and university tuition rise to an average of $8,655 for in-state students and to an average of $29,056 for private, nonprofit t institutions. Anyone staring down the cost of college for their own kids is well aware these figures do not include room and board.

With these staggering numbers in mind, it is no surprise competition for prospective students among colleges and universities is fierce. As such, institutions are turning to integration firms to help differentiate themselves by showcasing cutting-edge technologies to use as recruiting tools.

Citing a recent installation of two classrooms at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business (CMU), Pittsburgh-based Synergy Media Group has earned a reputation for designing and installing unique classrooms for higher education, says president Bill McIntosh.

Technologies that are interactive and facilitate collaboration top the wish list of colleges and universities. “While the two classrooms have all the standard bells and whistles [including dual HD projection, HD videoconferencing and touch-panel control] you’d expect from a top-tier university, the Tepper School of Business [at CMU] created two classrooms that were technological show pieces for the school,” says McIntosh.

Each desk in the 80-seat classrooms is equipped with a 4-inch touch panel located in the table. This facilitates real-time interactivity between professors and students as well as the ability to access the campus’ directory database. “It’s a truly unique and collaborative classroom,” says McIntosh. But this is no longer the classroom of the future, it is what students applying for college expect today.

Focus on Profitability

One of the common threads among these industry leaders is focus. Jerry Gale, professional services marketer for Edina, Minn.-based, Alpha Video & Audio, attributes its success at least in part to the company’s focus on digital signage, broadcast and video production.

While many companies are scaling back staffing, Sudbury, Mass.-based Adtech has created two management positions to more effectively handle its project management, engineering and field install teams. “In 2012 we completed a job costing system that allows us to track actual profitability of every job,” says Adtech’s CEO, David Gormley. “With more effective management of each [job], we expect to increase efficiencies and decrease costly mistakes that destroy profitability,” said Gormley.

Somerset, N.J.-based Video Corporation of America (VCA) employs several metrics to monitor and improve each aspect of its business, including its sales and accounting operations. VCA president David Berlin says, “[s]alespeople are not only measured by dollars generated, but also key client account spending by technology vertical. Additionally, the entire team is measured by variance of budgeted costs to actual — a deep dive on variance helps keep our costs under control for the client and keeps VCA financially sound.”

The ability to identify and understand client pain points for any business is critical. Putting a plan of action into place, committing to it and following through is vital to satisfying — and retaining — clients.

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