The Age of Data-Driven Business is Upon Us: Are You Listening, Integrators?

All business should be data-driven business, according to this column by Dan Newman. He and many others say that AV business data is good for integrators.

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The Age of Data-Driven Business is Upon Us: Are You Listening, Integrators?

The AV integration space wants to be taken seriously as a high-tech space. This is the industry where people come to connect, communicate and collaborate. You may even have a slogan like that on the back of your business card or your website.

In the enterprise space, communication is everything. Whether it’s mass communication or simple small group or one to one, the ability to get our messages to the right audience at the right time is more critical than ever before.

The exciting news is that commercial integrators do all of the above. From outfitting broadcast studios with the equipment that enables production quality video, to presentation spaces where groups listen and learn, to the implementation of collaboration platforms that enable employees to chat, video and call; integrators do all of these things.

The hard part for integrators is that the majority of their time is spent doing the heavy lifting to enable broadcast, presentation and collaboration to happen at work, school, church and home. Once the installation is done, the vast volume of customer revenue goes along with it.

Sure, they sell service contracts, but most integrators will tell you that it is a pretty small portion of their revenue. Those who nailed that transition early are doing better, but I still think many of the proclamations of successful conversion to recurring revenue by CI’s is smoke and mirrors. I’d be glad to be proven wrong, but now, let’s talk about how that can be accomplished.

Data-Driven Business and You

No, I’m not actually looking to see anyone’s financials. Truth is, I hope your service revenue and recurring revenue channels have grown. This is good for the industry as a whole, and frankly, any integrator that is still making its cheese from pure installation is probably also not seeing the expiration date on their door. It says, “Closing Soon,” in case you can’t read it. I digress.

Data-driven business has been likened to gold and oil by the big wigs of silicon valley and the fortune 500. For most, AV business data is all about having a better view of the customer. An opportunity to better understand the customer and create more meaningful experiences that drive brand loyalty and separate a larger percentage of wallet share from the consumer to the brand leveraging the data. Data-driven business works, it isn’t hype, and that is why #proAV companies are making massive investment in data management.

For integrators, the AV business data revolution is more than a footnote of what the future holds for the industry. It’s a leading indicator.

For many years there have been a few select companies that have developed solutions which provide customers with analytics to better understand how they are using their systems. The solutions from companies like Tandberg (Cisco), AMX, Crestron and others provided some valuable insight and it made for some snazzy demo material and likely some AV managers at colleges had more lamps on hand.

But all in all, the industry never really embraced the power of AV business data as a tool to sell more and create happier customers. However, the winners of the next few years will do just that.

The Future of AV Business Data

It’s time we recognize that what we sell to the customers is only the first at bat. The continued opportunities to step to the plate and even earn those mighty recurring dollars comes down to the ability to show greater value from the investments customers make in technology. The AV industry as a whole needs to do this better; this is the demarcation of AV and IT. IT measures everything, constantly.

Machines are doing the learning right now so that the tools can provide even more value. The AV industry has run away from data-driven business. I speculate this is primarily because it is hard, and the analytics tools have been somewhat limited, but that isn’t the case anymore. These systems can tell customers how their digital signage, broadcasts, presentations and collaboration tools are working. They can go deeper to help them know what to invest more in and what to stop spending on.

Read next: You’re Ready to Sell Business Data to Clients (You Just Don’t Know It Yet)

What the industry cannot afford to do is turn its back on data and the hard work that helps customers feel good about how they spend their money. People love to be proven right, data can help that, and when they are wrong, let’s help them get to the right answer with just enough tact that maybe they don’t realize just how wrong they really were.