Beware of “feature creep,” Brandofino warns. A customer might want a specific product for all of the neat features it comes with, but then only use half of them, if even that. There are so many features to these systems today; it is important to know what is truly important for an AV solution and what is fluff.
The customer’s first priority is the meeting, so the integrator’s first priority must be the meeting as well – the setting in need of a solution. A customer might need a good videoconferencing system with clear sound, in eight rooms, with a way to chat throughout the entire company. And so AVI-SPL has teamed up with Lync, Microsoft’s unified communications platform that lets you connect with others through instant messaging, video calls, and online meetings (AVI-SPL’s VMR supports the Lync software).
But is brand loyalty completely lost? Do customers come to AVI-SPL and say, give me the best technology for the best price, allowing AVI-SPL to pick and choose from their partners accordingly?
Not so, says Brandofino. Sometimes customers see something they want and “gotta have it.” They pick the technology and AVI-SPL has to answer. This fact hints at a solid brand loyalty still present in the industry. Which is why it helps to ask that first question – what is your meeting like?
“We, as systems integrators, need to truly experience their situation first,” agrees Doug Carnell, Executive Vice President of Operations for AVI-SPL.
This is especially important as AVI-SPL moves onto the global scale. Carnell describes the company’s recent expansion into Europe with their new office in London, and three more in Canada, as of 2013. They’ve also had an office in Dubai since 2006. Last year’s expansion led to jobs and projects in 19 countries overall, explains Carnell.
“We need to provide a one-stop solution set to enterprise customers,” he says. “We need to be able to handle your worldwide needs.” It is always difficult to globalize, and AV integration is a multiplier of that.
With so many products and across a global platform, AVI-SPL has commandeered the role of determining which products and services are right for which customers. This shift from product-focused sales to a solution-focused brand will continue to open doors for AVI-SPL. But it will require juggling brand loyalty, feature creep, and customer naivety, and returning again and again to this idea of the solution.
“It’s not like buying shoes,” Brandofino says with a laugh, “you can’t try on lots of different pairs and choose which fits the best, buy those and leave the rest at the store.”
These are enormous, expensive, intricate systems. They don’t just look good; they solve problems. They change the nature of how entire companies interact and function. This is a purchase unlike any other. You have to know what you want – understand what you need – before going in.
“That’s what we’re here for,” he says.