I pointed out, in that context, that “Hey, what better partner to get on-board with as an integrator?
However you might be about this new world, you can enter it with a partner like QSC who has reinvented itself and grown through those same changes.
We still have more growing to do in order to continue this path, but what better partner than somebody who can empathize with what that integrator is going through?”
LeBlanc: DSP has been around for a long time, and it’s gone through sort of an evolution, but from an IT director’s perspective, they have a different perspective of what DSP is, and what it means to them. Can you help me to understand if there’s a learning curve involved with educating IT directors about DSP?
Adams: As a former IT professional, I can empathize with some of the frustrations of trying to manage what we would call “special” systems. We used to jokingly call them that, because that’s how they showed up in the specs. We used to joke that if toasters had an RJ45 connector, we were certain we’d be guys blamed for burnt toast.
All joking aside, I think it’s a spectrum. Your enterprise customers, most of which are Fortune 500 — those companies have been wise enough to actually import AV people from our industry into their IT teams. It’s not quite as black-and-white, or as stark, as maybe we all feel in the AV industry, especially at that level or caliber of company.
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As for your average IT professional in a small company? They probably don’t have the same needs and that’s ok. We still have plenty of options for their systems that meet their specific business needs.
I think this is a great gateway to embrace IT, but yet also enhance and show our inherent value as AV peopleThey can’t just walk away from it. They still need echo cancelling and make those large conference rooms work. However this is a way to make it work in a more familiar scheme than island systems with proprietary software and hardware.
Blackwood: Along those lines, what does the integration process look like now for an IT director? Is it just a one-time, hire an integrator, have them program the systems into this centralized processor, and then sort of walk away? Would it be a managed-services type of agreement?
Adams: I’ve thought about that a lot. I hope that this paradigm is a happy in-between, because the integrators don’t have to abandon their core competency. They can still go and make that sale, and go into that facility, and look at rooms and define room types, and integrate other products that are from all kinds of other brands.
I think this is a great gateway to being able to embrace IT, but yet also enhance and show our inherent value as AV people, and the skill set that classically trained IT professionals are frankly never going to fully embrace on their own internal teams. So, in other words, the integrator is very much needed.
LeBlanc: With CI, we’re obviously talking to that AV channel. With TechDecisions we’re talking to IT directors. I want you to talk a little bit more about your distribution model.
Adams: We still have the same AV channel. We have dealers around the world — some of them direct, and in other countries we have distribution.
At no time do we intend to sell direct to either an IT group or an end-user, nor do we intend to sideline the AV channel we’ve built up over the last 50 years. What we instead want to do is to help them change their business model, and help them become much more an AV-IT-VAR.
It doesn’t mean we have to change our channel. It simply means the channel has to add more and more skills to their integration capability. To me, that’s an opportunity. It shouldn’t be a scary thing. It’s actually a new revenue stream, potentially, for them.
Blackwood: It seems like this technology is largely about making it easier for IT people to figure out all these AV systems.
Adams: I think that’s one of its primary values. As subtle as it might sound, that’s a big value.
LeBlanc: What’s it like for a company like QSC to work and develop a solution with a company like Dell?
Adams: When I first approached Dell, I was worried in the back of my mind as to the volume we’d sell. We’re the tiny AV industry, and they’re used to selling thousands of servers a month to a single customer, if not tens of thousands. I was worried that they wouldn’t even give us the time of day.
What I learned is that the world is full of all kinds of niche applications and niche markets that companies like Dell, have collaborated with. Even though we’re only talking about very small volumes, especially at first, they were very supportive.
We’re really jumping onto a whole different train with them, and it’s wonderful, because it allows us to focus on exciting software development and they are our trusted supplier of hardware.