10.) “AV industry is the IT industry of 25 years ago,” McArdle said. He noted how big of a revenue drop off there is after the largest integration firm AVI-SPL. “It’s because we’re not providing business value. Every industry evolves and the organizations that are successful innovate and find new ways to provide value and don’t rely on the way they’ve done it in the past.” He added that at the value integrators offer isn’t in hanging a display on the wall but perhaps it’s in providing data on how it’s being used.
11.) The only thing that integration firms offer than can’t be commoditized is intellectual property, according to Kaufmann. Most industries are commoditized, he said. “Hardware doesn’t matter. Software doesn’t matter. It’s what we’re able to do with it; that’s how we counter commoditization.”
12.) Selling to IT isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. Human Circuit has “embraced” selling to IT professionals for 15 years, Kaufmann said. “They are our favorite client. Get rid of the facility guy, the AV guy [and] give me the CIO. These are reasonable people with very high standards.” The opportunity to deliver on those high standards is something integration firms should embrace, he added.
13.) Integrators that don’t live up to IT professionals standards have nobody to blame but themselves. The frustration that many firms have with trying to sell to IT departments, McArdle said, “comes from the fact that we’re not delivering to the standards that they need to adhere to in other places. They don’t have to reboot their email server to make it work!” He added that IT departments are rightfully appalled at the idea of having to reboot a control system on a weekly basis. “That’s insane,” he said. “You have to be able to deliver at the same level that they’re expecting based on all their other systems.”
14.) Meanwhile, it’s impossible to generalize IT professionals, McGinnis said. “They’re not all the same.” Some are concerned with risk. Some are focused on looking good in front of their boss. Some require clear ROI to justify a strategy. “There’s really nothing different about working with an IT manager than a facilities manager,” he said. Success depends on understanding what their motivation is and then providing a solution in sync with it.