Going Deeper and Wider with Clients

Published: May 29, 2024
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I wrote my first piece on managed services back in 2019. There had been some ongoing debate on your Sunday morning #AVintheAM. Around that time, I threw out a blanket question: Who was doing managed services exceptionally well? Who was acting and implementing managed services beyond the buzzword? From there, I interviewed a handful of companies that were executing managed services across different verticals and timeframes. I mostly did this to satisfy my own curiosity. I also wanted to highlight ways that integration companies could add value for their end users. (At the time, I was an end user myself!) 

Some five years later, here we are, revisiting a subject that I believe will only continue to grow as a value add in our industry. That’s why I took some time out to connect with Jared Lederhandler, vice president of global services sales at AVI-SPL. The large global provider of digital enablement solutions recently announced the launch of its new Enterprise Managed Services. Knowing that Lederhandler has been in the industry for over 20 years and leading a services team, I thought he was the perfect choice to dive into the ins and outs. 

The ‘Hang and Bang’ Model 

Traditionally, the integration business has been built around the “hang and bang” model. Go in hard on a projector or a TV, and then get out. As our industry and business models continue to grow, we’ve seen services become more prominent over the years. But why start leaning into the service model now? 

“This question makes me reminisce a bit, as I’ve just passed the 20-year mark of being in the industry,” Lederhandler begins. “I’m embracing the services side of the industry now because, as companies look at making large investments in technology for their enterprise, they’re reconsidering their approach to day-two support. That means opportunity for us.” And, indeed, opportunity was one of the first key points in my original piece, entitled “The Managed Services Era.” Simply put, integrators have been leaving money on the table for years by not considering adding managed services to their portfolio of offerings. First, managed services provide a way to scale a business. Second, managed services build long-term client relationships beyond what is possible with traditional “hang and bang” jobs. Managed services, if done right, can be a huge value proposition. 

Historically, if and when something breaks, someone comes to fix it. That is the definition of a reactive posture. Over the years, we’ve seen some companies take on managed services to try to remedy this. With AVI-SPL launching its Enterprise Managed Services, I picked up on a unique perspective and approach, departing from a break-fix mindset and embracing a proactive mindset. “Spot on,” Lederhandler proclaims. “We’ve been a very reactive industry when it comes to support services.” However, the current generation of users expects technology to work on time, every time. 

Proactive Monitoring is Now Imperative 

According to Lederhandler, “The ability of an organization to proactively monitor its customers’ environments [has become] imperative.” Just think about the value of an end user’s integrator partner seeing a 2 a.m. alert that a room is offline, fixing that issue and bringing the room back to a “ready” state, all before any user walks in to start a meeting. 

“On the flip side,” Lederhandler continues, “we often design rooms based on assumptions about the room’s usage. With proactive monitoring, we’re able to get a true picture of how the room is typically used.” For example, proactive monitoring means an integrator partner might see that, 80% of the time, the room is used for wireless content sharing. “Knowing this,” he says, “we can advise our clients on how to build out future rooms more effectively.” 

This hits on my second point from earlier: building long-term client relationships. Today’s leading integrators can provide and examine data that shows how facilities are being used now, while also leveraging that data to help develop spaces in the future. That’s key to building long-term client trust. 

AVI-SPL is, of course, not new to managed services; however, its Enterprise Managed Services are new. My first question was pretty fundamental: What’s the difference between the two? What makes Enterprise Managed Services more valuable? As it turns out, one of the key factors is an asset inventory service. “This is how we kick off every new managed services engagement,” Lederhandler says. “It allows us to understand the technology that’s deployed in our customers’ environments.” This involves gathering data on device model numbers, serial numbers, firmware versions and more. To use an automotive analogy, you have to know what’s under the hood to maintain the car. 

“Another strong pillar in our offering is device-monitoring capabilities,” Lederhandler explains, “which, again, gives us proactive incident reporting, as well as an understanding of device availability.” As part of AVI-SPL’s Enterprise Managed Services offering, clients can leverage its 24/7 helpdesk for incident and problem management. “If we’re not able to resolve the issue remotely, we’ll dispatch onsite support to remedy it,” he adds. 

Enterprise Grade 

The term “Enterprise Managed Services” refers to being enterprise grade, but the offering is not focused on or exclusive to enterprise clients only. AVI-SPL offers this service to clients of all sizes, as all sizes of companies are often IT-led in their technology decision-making. After all, these days, a lot of AV gear lives on the network; what’s more, there’s little doubt that we’ll see the proportion of devices continue to grow. Sometimes, this can lead to AV teams and IT teams bumping heads due to not being on the same page. I think we’ve all been there! 

But I’m seeing a lot of AV and IT teams coming together and finding creative ways to bridge the gap. What’s more, Enterprise Managed Services can help to address these pain points. “We directly and holistically alleviate the pressure on the IT team to manage [the numerous] and unfamiliar AV devices, focusing on asset tracking, configuration management, incident management and problem management,” Lederhandler explains. By following Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standards, he adds, “We give the customer’s internal IT team confidence their environment is successfully managed according to ITIL processes.” 

Overall, the commercial AV industry has to find ways to sustain our client relationships before, during and after the hardware sale. Lederhandler describes his organization’s approach by saying, “AVI-SPL’s expanded Enterprise Managed Service is the first in the industry to offer a full, end-to-end solution covering more technologies in more countries — 60 and counting — with one simple price per room.” It’s obvious that AVI-SPL has found a new, creative way to serve its clients, not only adding true value but also building upon business opportunities. It’s a win-win that I just had to highlight, as we watch the commercial AV business continue to evolve. 

If you find these developments intriguing, be sure to catch Lederhandler and his team in Las Vegas for InfoComm ’24, where they can speak to the newly introduced Enterprise Managed Services offering. The team will be located in the Central Hall, Booth #C7031. 

See you all there next month! 

Follow along with Commercial Integrator as we compile the latest news for InfoComm 2024. Check out (or bookmark) our InfoComm 2024 hub page today

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