Redefining the Control Systems Programmer

The significance of a good control system in any AV project validates the need to establish higher budgets for control system programming.

Steve Greenblatt

I recently returned from the InfoComm AV Executive Conference where I accessed valuable business insight that will strengthen my company into the future. I also learned some interesting industry trends from others in attendance, trends that we can all benefit from exploring in more detail.

One of the highlights that caught my attention (for obvious reasons) came in the opening address by InfoComm Senior Vice President of Membership, Duffy Wilbert, who shared that two of the fastest growing products across the industry globally are control systems and software.

This information came in conjunction with the feedback I received from integrators who stated that while their businesses have been busy, filling needs for control system programming has become limiting factor. All of this makes me question why pricing pressure for control system programming continues to exist in the commercial AV market.

As discussed time and time again, the functionality of the control system represents the biggest variable, provides the highest degree of customization, impacts the user experience directly, and plays a significant role in the overall outcome of an integrated AV system and a client’s satisfaction with that system. A well designed control system solution addresses the specific needs of the client. It is accurately programmed and tested and can be the differentiator between a successful and unsuccessful project.

More: What I Personally Learned at InfoComm’s AV Executive Conference

With that said, wouldn’t it make sense to treat programming in the highest regard, rather than to shop programming based solely on price? The significance of good programming, along with the laws of supply and demand, validates the need to establish higher budgets for control system programming.

As we dive deeper here, it is important to point out that “control system programming” is no longer the most accurate term for what is expected of AV programmers. The function of the control system programmer needs to be understood more accurately as the provider of a control system solution.

It is virtually impossible to provide control system programming without including the complementary (and necessary) services of client consultation, system functionality definition, interface design, system commissioning, troubleshooting, network communications configuration, and device support for all of the devices made by the control system manufacturer (whether specifically control related or not).

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As an independent control system solutions company, Control Concepts has adopted a new identity and understood the role and responsibility that is now expected from the control system expert. What seems to be a shift in expectations as stated in the keynote and by the integrators with whom I met, has not been accompanied by a shift in importance in which a control system solution is budgeted in a project as something other than a line item for control system programming.

If we plan to complete projects successfully and hold customer satisfaction in high regard, control system solutions need to be understood as a valued, specialty service that is sought for a provider’s level of expertise, rather than by lowest price. We all know that you get what you pay for.

As our industry evolves, is that a gamble worth taking?

Investing in a relationship with a control system solutions provider who can deliver valued services trusted for excellence and expertise, should be an essential one for technology managers, consultants, and integrators to invest in. This kind of basic professional services relationship, akin to that of an attorney, accountant or business consultant, can be vital to contributing to an organization’s success now and in the future.