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Commercial Integrator Europe Q&A: Engage’s David Wilson discusses new consultancy venture

David Wilson, creative director of Engage, sat down with CIE to explore the genesis of the operation.

David Davies

Interactive technology specialist Engage Production recently announced the details of a new initiative, Engage Consultancy, designed to help clients plan, shape and execute projects benefiting from increased ROI and raised brand presence. David Wilson, creative director of Engage, sat down with Commercial Integrator Europe to explore the genesis of the new venture.

What was the starting point for Engage Consultancy, and why is now the right time to launch it?

We have always informally acted as a consultancy with agencies and clients asking for our opinion on project ideas – doing feasibility studies, developing ideas, giving estimates, and steering the appropriate use of technology etc. As the projects have got larger the request for input has too, so it became necessary to formalise our consultancy offering, giving it its own identity, structure and processes. This makes it easier for us to promote our consultancy service in its own right rather than simply as an add-on to our integration services. In short, clients can now purchase our input on all aspects of a project such as design from GUI to environment, tech from hardware to software, process from ways of working to enhanced applications for B2B tools.

It’s the right time as we are at the forefront of the merging of IT and AV skills and deployment, and we are unique in offering the combined strands of tech, process and design.

With regards to AV technology integration, what skills and expertise do you think you can offer that others cannot?

We look at the project holistically as each element can and will influence the final project. We can identify opportunities and react to them incredibly quickly to increase the VFM of a project. We can also react quickly to risks and use all the skills within the project to mitigate against them. In this way we can reduce delays and minimise costs.

Can you give us a hypothetical example of a corporate project where your integration skills could really add value?

A client suite that uses and visualises big data in an interactive environment. It is more than an enhanced meeting room – it allows any asset, any web-based app, and any vid-conf connection to be shown on a large touchscreen wall and manipulated in front of a client ,and allows the client to manipulate the assets too. Content can be shown on breakout screens too for more focused, dynamic working. All assets can be controlled via iPad and content can be generated via iPad too: mind mapping, scheduling, options analysis, SWOT analysis, etc.

The experience for the host and their client hangs by the slickness of the experience enabled by the tech. Therefore, hardware and software need to work seamlessly and all interfaces must be intuitive and compelling in presentation. We can deliver this, and this in turn gives improved and accelerated ways of working. Traditional procurement of separate hardware provider and software developer does not work anywhere near as efficiently as there needs to be incredibly detailed design from a lead to ensure that integration is seamless. This separate approach leads to loss of ops, convoluted design process and working – increasing time and areas of uncertainty in a support period after project delivery – as it is difficult for the client/end user to ascertain who to call when a screen is not working. Is it the screen? Is it the software? Is it the network? Diagnosis is easier with a one-stop company. We can do that and more.

In general, how well versed in AV technology do corporate and retail clients tend to be? And what more can (and should) be done to bring them up to speed?

Corp clients are quite well-versed in traditional AV in meeting rooms, etc, but we introduce them to more collaborative environments where the tools are not locked in by the physical spaces they have. We develop apps and software that can be used on multi platforms and at all scales. The hardware screens are merely enablers. Showing them that we can develop software that can be deployed across their businesses and across practices is a key part of educating clients.

We have built the FLUX Innovation Lounge in London to show clients the art of the possible. Seeing is believing as it can be quite a leap of faith for clients to adopt new technology in their ways of working. It must work immediately, be intuitive and therefore adopted by the work force and give a better return on investment – quite a tall order and one we rise to meet!

Retail clients are more aware of trends in consumer technology so it is sometimes difficult to explain that a one-off bespoke project to meet their needs has not had the R&D/ budget of a full blown OS or software application; to be unique means going custom with different risks involved. We always talk this through with the clients – capturing their needs and reflecting that within the available time, budget and so on.

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