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Harman’s Acquisitions of AMX, SVSi Lead to Single-Manufacturer, Customer Aligned Approach

Harman pro president Blake Augsburger explains how a restructured, customer market-focused strategy will make life easier for integrators and their clients.

Harman has had an interesting past year and a half, and those of us trying to keep up with the audio manufacturer’s moves and how they affect the rest of the pro AV industry are sometimes left with our heads spinning.

In May 2014, Harman added instant automation credibility with its $365 million acquisition of AMX.

At the time, executives at AMX expressed excitement over opportunities stemming from the merger and didn’t indicate any specific expectations of changes. “It’s not about us shifting our strategy,” said VP of global marketing Joe Andrulis during an episode of AV Nation’s AV Week days after the industry learned of Harman’s acquisition of AMX.

“It’s more about us finding new opportunities to leverage that strategy. This certainly increases our visibility in the channel.”

Over a year and a half later some things have changed.

[Harman sees a] movement toward fully integrated, complete system solutions that run natively. The acquisitions we’ve made in recent years put us in a unique position to provide those solutions, which I think will be a big differentiator for Harman and a big advantage to our integrator partners and customers.

Andrulis is no longer at AMX, which is now called AMX by Harman. Just prior to Infocomm 2015, AMX by Harman acquired SVSi, an IP network centric AV distribution, recorder and management provider. SVSi joined Harman Professional’s Video and Control Strategic Business Unit (SBU) led by Rashid Skaf and marketed under the AMX by Harman brand.

In September, Harman Professional announced a refocusing of its organizational model aimed at making it more customer-, instead of product category-centric. Now its SBUs are supported by customer solution units (CSUs).

The Entertainment (SBU), for instance, is supported by Retail & Recording CSU and Touring & Cinema CSU.

Sound confusing? Maybe at first, but consider that in a relatively short period of time Harman added automation and highly demanded IP distribution and management to its product portfolio, creating a breadth of solutions that certainly warrant a more customer- and market-based approach.

Harman does seem to have a master plan and Blake Augsburger, president of Harman Professional Solutions Division, answers some questions about it:

Why is it important for Harman Professional Solution’s leadership to be organized as groups specifically focused on customer markets?

Augsburger: It’s important that our organization be aligned to customer markets, so we can provide technology expertise coupled with deeper market expertise. Doing so provides us with better understanding of the customer use-case today and clearer insights as to where markets are headed tomorrow.

At Harman Professional Solutions, we’ve always emphasized innovation, build quality and support as elements of a comprehensive solutions offering. We’ll continue to do so, but we are now also providing dedicated expertise for each customer market. We’re already receiving very positive feedback from the field.

Why is it more important to structure it this way now versus a few years ago? What has changed?

Augsburger: I think the convergence of AV and IT has been a huge driver of change. It’s also led to better connectivity, broader interoperability and more inclusive solutions. With this convergence, software and firmware innovations have enabled companies like Harman to develop integrated systems tailored to specific verticals, such as education, hospitality and others.

Our new organizational structure addresses the convergence of AV and IT, positioning Harman Professional Solutions to lead the movement toward fully integrated, complete system solutions that run natively. The acquisitions we’ve made in recent years put us in a unique position to provide those solutions, which I think will be a big differentiator for Harman and a big advantage to our integrator partners and customers.

Another change is that customers across all verticals have recognized the value of AV as a business tool. Whether it’s better AV resulting in stronger sales presentations, higher quality lectures or an improved retail atmosphere, this recognition has led to an accelerated adoption of audio and video in each of the vertical markets.

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