Colin Birney has had an interesting career path working for both AV integrators and consultants and on the other side of the equation too for large end users like Hess Corporation and Google. He’s had a nice mix working in AV and IT as well as some time in the film industry as a sound editor.
He currently works as a consultant and has some great ideas on how to manage and support AV projects.
this is a software defined survival where we talk to AV IT professionals and software developers to find out how to leverage software to reinvent ourselves and we do business we listen to their stories and ask for advice and tactics on how to survive and thrive in a software defined what today software defined survive but the vast majority wins out there aren’t complex and I answer I mean I think when RTC is I don’t think people would be buying systems if they knew the actual cost of Google have projects where thousands of times and if your methodology so and it was five my name is Patrick Murray audio visual greetings to everyone listening today welcome to software defined survival today’s guest has had an interesting career path working for both TV integrators and consultants and also on the other side of the equation too for large end users like Hess corporation and Google he’s had a nice mix of working in AV and I. T. as well as some time in the film industry as a sound editor he currently works as a consultant and has some really interesting ideas on how to manage and support AV projects Colin be any welcome to the show hello how are you grace how are you doing well living it up and used to be sunny Florida mention this on a break today but today we’re we’re just hiding indoors so I was a good time to do a casting yes indeed it’s freezing here so I’m happy to be in his well so is there anything about that intro that you’d like to correct or expand upon not really %HESITATION that kind of that kind of covers and I’ve been I’ve %HESITATION pulled cables and ceilings and I’ve you know put together large managed service contracts and I run the whole gamut as far as the industry goes and it’s been a really really interesting ride and I’m I’m now just in my stage of %HESITATION consulting for myself and see where that goes excellent so you mentioned pulling cables how did you get started in AV tell me about your first job or project got started in the navy %HESITATION I actually started on night started with guitar and I love playing guitar going to concerts when I started getting the college and I realize you know I always want to be in a band I really is at the end of the day sound guy get a and everyone else go home maybe at a free beer hot dog when the bard had oftener well I really should be on the other side of this work so I decided to start doing a lot of mixing at the same time that I was doing a working on an engineering degree in industrial engineering and when I got done really feel like going into the I guess that has that were available inside when you sought out some integration work I went to a few folks that I knew and asked them to anybody who’s hiring or you know whatever I can get going and I ended up on the installation crew to sort of drop down and you know told me the last soldering iron suppliers and some stuff and study showed up a little bag and started doing it and it was something that I really enjoyed it really dug into it and I was able to move pretty quickly from installing into being a design engineer SPL picked me up after about six or eight months in you doing two jobs with them and I think from there things just sort of took off so that was my introduction into the industry and my time on the integration side and then %HESITATION following us feel like my kind of disappeared into the corporate world for the next decade before re emerging as a as a as a butterfly in the consulting side that is an interesting analogy they’re going into a cocoon and then re emerging as a butterfly at like that so in AV everybody has their nightmare projects can you tell me about your most rewarding AV projects and what made it special for you %HESITATION on hand aid I think probably the most rewarding was one of my most recent I worked on Google’s Singapore office and by admin tasks with basically there never too large and spaces there’s a customer space and there’s a massive video wall of in their lobby one of the first things you see when you come in the door of their of their offices and for me being part of something that was custom built actually getting to go to the factory in China for acceptance and testing and seeing how those are made and then watching all go up anything from start to finish that was so it is so rewarding or some exciting to see where everything you know the whole kind of process and supply chain all the way down to having it in an up and running %HESITATION and thankfully I was there to see see the opening to see people’s reactions and it’s such a stunning piece I mean it’s probably thirty feet tall notes of the biggest video all but it’s definitely press any any imposing when you when you walk in and they’ve been able to do a lot of really all of you know cool up things for people that are that are visiting the been able to have your local you too celebrities come in and they’re they’re getting is just playing a massive collage on the wall and you know they’re super excited it’s like that that to me is the best things like I I appreciate really good wiring and good craftsmanship and young intricate design but when someone has a positive reaction AT that to me is the most rewarding thing I can see yeah arm I have a come up with that once or twice already on this on this very young podcast is when the install falls into place it’s it’s really like wow okay it’s it’s a very relaxing thing and and %HESITATION these you know it’s it’s nice to have but really the icing on the cake is when you get to see how the system is being used and now as a programmer that’s something I hardly ever get to do but when you when you actually get to see people experiencing what you created that really is on an amazing thing that really makes it all worth while I think I agree and I and that’s kind of been my mantra for most of my career I mean one of the most impactful classes I had when I was in college was this woman taught a course on user interface and she she designs mostly cockpit layout and so her her impression of user designs like it has to be good and it has to be able to back out and things you know she’s in a situation when she designed for things where if you switch songs which you can die right thankfully I don’t think you’re I have ever had that that level of pressure but she seemed impressed I mean the fact that there’s you know there’s research in their standards and there’s there’s reasons for everything you do the size of the buttons all that you know down down to the details that really that really piqued my interest and as I started in SPL I ended up similar to you I interviewed him restaurant programmer and you know most of my days were spent our next you know two and a half years designing interfaces and trying to get around and get my head around the way the people working in Iraq the thing that I bills and for me going forward from there day user experience was what drove me you know I I wasn’t you know especially being on the end user side I wasn’t really in the business of trying to meet quotas are please manufacturers I was in the business trying to please the people that had to use technology and I think that’s a for me it was a really cheap part of the way I work arm the way it works now thing is everything is based on making sure everyone has a good experience I love AV like touching and playing with and I want people to experience with the way I do but they’re not gonna experiences that way if it’s through a weird interface and I’m okay with that you’re okay with that we can play in those windows ninety five looking actual words and have a great time but most people don’t have that kind of enthusiasm so I wanna make it something that’s quite a moment kind of see the magic of what it is you yeah it’s not only the enthusiasm it’s that they usually have other goals and other expectations when they’re in these rooms that we create like you mentioned that the guy flying the plane his his job is to fly the plane he can’t really be too well awed by the technology when he’s got a job to do and it’s it’s the same thing even when you’re doing something as mundane as giving a presentation or was standing in front of a room you know you just want the stuff to work and it’s it’s secondary to are so what you’re trying to do so what was it like working a cool it was massive I I think the biggest thing about Google is just the scale of things I mean I was able to work and you know fifteen plus countries on projects a lot of travel a lot of %HESITATION interaction with different cultures it definitely was a logistics exercise in many cases in Europe but not as much aged definitely %HESITATION but it was I don’t know is it was a really good experience is really good exercise in scale and I think that’s for me I was glad to see someone that had sort of figured out scale because I think one of the problems that when I talk to other integrators especially smaller integrators they struggle with that because they have a method that works for ten rooms twenty rooms thirty rooms when it gets in the one hundred two hundred five hundred you know Google have projects where thousands of times land and if your methodology so labor intensive you’re not gonna be able to yeah I can we will strive you know has companies are getting to the scale in alternately everyone is moving towards smaller cheaper rooms and on the arm right there in the days of having one video conference room for the floor that everyone’s were invited for just doesn’t really exist use you and I think that sort of scale is is real important it also gave me an insight into how to manage it you know insulation is one thing but managing fleet about sizes is another in nineteen nineteen thousand million points so that’s you know that’s something most people aren’t going to encounter at any point in our lives and I was really really happy to get a chance to work with that scale and understand and I think it you know it helps temper the conversation with other folks when they you know anxiety over the number of rooms the hands it could be worse you could twenty times it is overwhelming %HESITATION so what are some things that are that you noticed operating at that scale that that Google did or does to our kind of alleviate that that labor intensive type of installation let’s talk about the install side first and then we’ll talk about the management side so I think in the install side the one of the best choices they made in the they continue to move towards is owning everything they own the design you know you don’t integrator just don’t make drawings they can handed Ryan and they go on the court again because there’s no room for there’s no room for product variation there’s one bill materials that set you know any any deviation from it means a deviation in standard from you know that a fax support affects their supply chain facts the way that they I mean they would buy it would by and large ball would have agreements with with other companies that they would buy X. number of units and they would sit on and distribute them for jobs as they came up so I think that they they understand that are going to be simple and the standard is possible is very little deviation on in their standard design they have to be a really really good reason for it so it’s a it was all driven by kind of a very high level engineering I imagine whereas in navy on a smaller scale were a lot more open to adjusting things kind of on the fly maybe leaving things a little more open and it %HESITATION yeah both with pros and cons I’d imagine yes and no I mean I think the those are you know a lot of the prisoners exist on risible to users users will complain that while I wanted this where this isn’t quite right but you know that’s that’s obviously con but I think on the pro side you’re able to provide such a high level of of experience across all that you know you start getting variation experience are suffering from one room to the Max and United and in that situation where you go from one room to the next lax and every room looks different every touch every pieces experiences different people all preferences but you know there users know that if they walk into a certain type of room it’s gonna behave a certain way there’s no there’s no uncertainty in there’s no question about it yet makes it a lot more usable when things operate differently from room to room it almost becomes unbearable to up for the end user to even to even figure it out every time and now they wind up not using this technology great and I think with the fact that they tucking in young finally put a name to something that you don’t pass as well as you it becomes a product the room itself is a product like a product that has a life cycle of the product and there’s a lot to be learned on the way yeah I mean it’s not exactly the same with the way you know after elders of product manager Dr while we have product we have features we talk to users we got more features with a guy who can her family after releasing new products are new birch and then it has this has this nice clean life cycle that kind of builds itself and it’s built often user for the young music that feedback and I think in their case when you call a product that makes it a lot easier to say well there’s no variation I mean they’re they’re slight you know they have slight variations built and he could work with what is it going to buy cars yeah you know here you go and it’s like well can I have a different engine like now go get a different car this is and you know this isn’t what we do you know you can get you can get a spoiler eating and you know leather seats but ultimately the car the product the software everything that’s that’s treated and that is going to be standard and that’s just it’s an easier way to build and manage something out of very large scale I love the way that sounds especially as a programmer to know exactly you know what things should do how it should behave what is expected and more importantly how to get signed off the exact steps on how to get there it all sounds really great but %HESITATION we don’t all operate at this scale that Google does so take like your typical integration company would they be able to can you imagine a company like that taking this idea and saying this is our conference room products and offering just that and only that for maybe two or three different variations of it and and succeeding with that kind of a business model so that that you had a beautiful sentiments and experiment has been tried several times like you know if you people who started the this idea of a company where the end user doesn’t own the room the lease and it gets refreshed at the refresh cycle of the product new features roll out and can be you know there either part of the release or you can you guys tell Hey we have an option now to add new wireless screen sharing do you wanna do not you know sort of an add on kind of thing and I think right now no one has the appetite and I think it’s also a little too no one meeting insiders or the end user the end user I think the end user still needs customisation at a product level that can’t be satisfied by one whole room product you know Crestron tried that with the you know the lingering system or whatever or I probably know this woman but you know it’s like choose your issues you can’t come in and in the meanwhile rand in just I don’t think the end users are ready to buy but I definitely think that an innovator can go to and you can say look let’s take all your room is amazing generally town I shovel them into these buckets and let’s call each of these pockets of products and let’s give them your features and crown is you can work with and make it easy for your facilities planning in your life cycle planning AB team to design and manage and own the means and obviously there’s always gonna be our lives and that’s fine giving cover ninety percent use cases ninety percent standard is way better than a hundred percent on not suing him slightly so %HESITATION but definitely still on a case by case end user basis I think so but I think it’s the right I think it’s the right way to approach Amy even on a small scales this and what this is this is a product you should have a lifecycle should have a way to gather feedback we should understand that and I think ultimately most aid the organizations want to be like that they want to have a strict three or five your refresh cycle in one house you know they have these plans when it always something always just kind of unravels and never quite works out and you end up with things that are ten or twelve years all the action those one in them and a bunch of varying standards and I think it’s just because the art isn’t there at the moment yeah it would be nice to us of course these things that are predictable just makes it easier to run a business %HESITATION but like you said that that not just really hasn’t been cracked yet in any kind of a reliable way so I’ve been talking to a lot of AV pros lately about using open platforms on link then and the one thing that keeps coming up is is support so you know I like to use the raspberry pi to do automation control or even using an iPad to control devices directly and this stuff works the technologies absolutely there to do it and I’m of the belief that anybody who could program and AV system can learn these other technologies to so technology training really aren’t the issue but the support issue that keeps coming up they talk about even having on site support from a manufacturer so if you’re going to use something open source you obviously won’t have that and they’ll be savings right you won’t have the premium price point either and I kind of think if this is like a self service type of approach because if you go open source you have to take all the responsibility you have to own the solution yourself do you think that self service type of a approach has a place in pro AB I absolutely think it does I think that there is a nervousness too because you don’t get to you know throw the integrator out into a wall and boy they they really messed up this time let’s try different integrator it’s on you gets on the quality of developers you hire on the quality of of admins that you hired to manage usually I think from a cost perspective all their friends but it’s a new ground for the new realm in a way of thinking around something that was always just you have a black box it ran into that stuff when it died you replace the were all good to it being a little more living in in front of you and I think that scares you know definitely scares eighty people you know and I know that the the transition from you know makes you know nice young BNC cables to get five minutes you eyes and you know the source of all Sir is in all sorts of worry for for many people but I think it’s the next step in evolution in integrating appropriately with you know with the I. T. scene because really they’re they’re tired of everything is joined together and I think if you can create a mutual partnership you’re gonna end up in a better place because now you have a vested interest in making sure that your product is good and it works in a supportable you know if you have your network team monitoring your AV devices they’re much happier yeah so given your I. T. backgrounds what would you look for in an AV programmer or integrator or even a consultant as far as you know developing those kind of mutual partnerships I well I mean I think you need to take it slow I I definitely think it’s worth looking at existing use cases I think that’s the hardest that’s the hardest bridge to get across another you know might have talked about this a little bit sad yeah I can say all day long and you demos and things like that until I see it working in a real application with users actually touching it I don’t have a ton of faith and I think that really it’s gonna take a few someone going out and increasingly use it so I think you can start small start with replacing your digital signage infrastructure that was easy you need a box the place and stuff for the network okay let’s replace small grants require let’s see the failure rate is correct metrics on NASA thing for me I you know I come from I come from less of the design integration side and more from a managed service I want to know what it’s gonna do over the next one year two years three year five year what’s my failure at what is the refresh look like was the total effort that it takes to maintain the system because that’s key to a lot of a lot of design the gets left behind is what’s the ongoing cost yeah and that’s that’s the thing that’s really difficult right now is that if I put in certain manufacturers hardware my ongoing cost is really high and the level of technician I have time to work on it is really high in the total cost of that system isn’t a hundred thousand dollars it’s she wanted thousand dollars and that’s a big difference I don’t think people will be buying systems if they knew the actual cost of support you know like that and I think that the benefits towards something that’s open sourcing software base and you know and I think more importantly it’s she once you’ve developed your standard in your software rolling out another unit is not you know that barely that thanks that’s kind of thing goes on the corporate card any fifty rather by the king died on that I just when I was on violence is why not you know and I think that’s that’s where the value is in he in reducing that kind of ongoing cost yeah they’re gonna fail every piece of hardware does in summer some better than others but you know I think you just need to dive in and start gathering data okay so there’s a few things that you mention that I want to %HESITATION I want to come back to a little bit you mention price %HESITATION and sometimes the price comes out the same because you need a higher level of talent to integrate these commodity type solutions so that’s kind of a wash but does it offer more is it the flexibility that makes it so attractive or is that is that a big deciding factor as opposed to yeah as opposed to proprietary yeah I I think it is I think also because the whole town is more available for development see I can make saying some people don’t believe that I I think it’s on it’s all in what you choose you know yeah can hire you can hire a program team he he I I feel it’s easy to hire program team is a find a really good he’d be programmer right I mean you you and I both can probably name her top five favorite programs and there aren’t a lot of others that are just like stellar were you you can run into a really channels the situation of the just not there just gonna try and where is there is a million calories in Silicon Valley has I don’t know how many people and they’re all mostly programmers and I think you know if we if we go back to the idea of you know products you know product icing when you build the product when you initially come to and when you go three features unions friends so I bring twenty people and I just working in the ground for two or three weeks straight and then we stop and I think that that kind of developments like I can staff up really high for a brief time to get a lot done in software developers are used to working so if I have a future listen I want to get somewhere I can do is spent making a lot farther than I would having someone just on a lot of your having my AV department are you reading thing around and I think that’s where the benefit is that that and that cost is relatively fixed I say okay I’m a product of a life cycle and I’m refreshing every three years means every three years are spent and I was spent with a large number of resources but I know they’re only going to be there for you know three weeks six weeks however long it needs to be in that to me is is a lot more manageable than just saying well she’s going to be ongoing forever you roasting me playing with this and tweaking it and doing firmware upgrades and looking at the new version of whatever whatever it may be how do you how do you want to play because I think I’m going to a steady state and just lock it down which I don’t have to I don’t have to buy the new version restaurant pocket on my code library I can just drop in and you know there’s obviously security patches and things like that but that’s that’s just basic maintenance of a young winning some firemen yeah you’ll be making updates but now that has to do really with what you’ve developed in the beginning so it almost sounds like that day are typical AV community are not the people to be doing things like this that that it becomes more in the realm of the IT department and software developers almost yeah I would say so that yeah the needs to be features a question but I think that most of it isn’t hard to achieve anymore and granted we’re talking about the like I said probably the ninety percent of cases which is yeah hall rooms five six person rooms you know rooms with functionality that are that are very basic when you get into really hiding spaces yeah it doesn’t work it doesn’t work now if I needed any note DSP program all I am not in that like finding an intense race with you know an H. yes the Iraq bone all that’s like yeah I’m gonna go Evert your roster need all of you know network there’s no question but the vast majority wins out there aren’t complex and I think the vast majority solutions are over engineered for something that’s not a complex answer most people want to share their laptop with the screen they want to make an audio called when we could get a call you can meet those three features regardless of how you make them you’re probably going to be successful in most most world you’re in again I’m I’m not anyone over symbols on easy but in any realm that’s kind of what it breaks down to the communications I want to teach or to be heard on the scene yeah box it’s not a really it’s not a really complex problem that you’re solving for for probably ninety percent of you use cases I think it’s when we can start digging into more creative solutions yeah definitely just as a little side story I I have actually done it once I went to freelancer dot com and had somebody or hate an iPad app for me and it was just the user interface but I gave the specs and a lot of it was adjustable from a a text file and I got it back in two days and then I hooked it up to my end devices with TCP connections anyways yeah I mean it was great the guy was in China so I gave the specs I went to sleep I woke up I got a report it told what the change in in two days the whole thing was done and the price was pretty much the same as what I pay for navy programmer so it really is a valid way of getting things done I just think a yeah people are afraid of of different technologies any kind of change is obviously a bit scary one of the other things you talked about was %HESITATION having the metrics to decide if if this is the right thing right so there’s always gonna be that first projects where you don’t have any data but once you do have that data presented to other customers you can show the people and on your future projects you could %HESITATION make decisions based on that data so what are some of the things that that %HESITATION that prevent us from actually collecting data if it’s so valuable I I mean I think part of it is just not you know that’ll lag in AV behind IT AT is very well I’m not gonna in we have a list as a lot of a lot of customers who are struggling with their IT side just like maybe sign in gathering meaningful data and really it’s about getting information about incidents so what problem happens something valuable is in that whether it’s the product that failed the reason it failed the reason is recorded and and that just builds over time you one incident doesn’t mean anything incidents and can turn into a problem you know then you identified as a problem and you can start to identify you know certain products that aren’t good for that you need to consistently have the same the same issues over and over and I think really the problem is that traditionally the equipment doesn’t really enable good metrics you don’t have a global reporting so you can on the on a piece of never there’s a lot of companies out there trying to change that I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of good monitoring software and %HESITATION I think deeply moved to having everything IP connected in a room is great because then you can start to gather that that pilot data but it’s still it’s still something that needs a lot of work and attention from my point of view really at a basic level I just need to know something’s liable and not a good place to start if I put in this you know opinion brand X. TV and let it run for three years was reliable cost me to have to use tons of man hours replacing the CD’s or trouble shooting them or did they just kind of sit and do their job that’s the kind of that’s the kind of data that lets you make okay warned now to save version two point of this product coming to stay with that same no manufacture or many no different direction because it wasn’t quite what I what I wanted to be so I think at a very basic level just reliability to school with and you can really begin to any number of things you know that’s where %HESITATION especially talk about telephony or or video conferencing there’s just so much data the hole from there but it’s almost too much and I think that’s where some of the modern modern tools we’ll help you can set thresholds you can set boundaries to the data you collect because we collect all yes you can you can start doing data mining and really dig in and try to find trends but ultimately no one has time for that at this level you know if I’m trying to optimize something that makes me money that’s one thing but I’m this is a system that costs money right and I think that’s where that’s what people want to spend time on a given day so I think whatever level of data you can collect is gonna be useful clicking no data not you know that’s that’s not gonna help anyone but the very least just getting a list of what goes wrong I mean look at and and try to find trends that’s that’s the starting point and you just go from there he started having more data more information as you go as you notice things that should be collected you figure out a way to collect them excellent so some of the push factor here once in awhile is that %HESITATION there will be companies who will never let you send anything to the cloud to be stored any thoughts on that or any thoughts on how to get around that would you just stored locally on a server %HESITATION but I think that that opinion is breaking down really quickly because it’s getting harder and harder to maintain the inference is an exchange environment okay yes isn’t feasible when you weigh the need attention security versus the reliability like I am hundred times more likely to have a locally hosted managed exchange environment go down verses accomplished one you know that’s just the numbers are just against you can’t possibly have enough exchange servers running you know and make it reasonable from cost perspective than they can running in the cloud in the cloud they’ve optimized everything yeah that’s why when the Intel but came out everyone was curious because losing a few percent efficiency that’s calculated and so a few percentage like is is massive scale you know people people running local Serbs like Cain trips whenever we need multiplied out my millions it’s really really cool and I think for people that don’t think that we should host nation host anything the cloud I don’t I don’t really understand that I don’t think it’s any more secure on these any more reliable getting in on premise thing is just a control thing yeah what it what would you want control over the tune this is something that I had a lot of discussion with the navy is that what Abel information is your AV system sending out that will just devastate you some new about it like when did you see her HM my ankle one a single tear allies goodness candle is all it’s horrible and I think you know that that to me you know to get back to you know how many made awhile ago you talked about your collecting data and sharing it doesn’t happen every every end user I am not gonna say every end user but most end users closely guard their AV system you know my my my dream world would be that if I develop a new product Sam I’m in I’m in user I. developing new products I get down to design a run for a few years I have user feedback I have metrics I have tons of information I have a complete design when I release version two point no version one final goes a consortium someone else can use it yeah early on in my career we made a world of difference for me to see effective well designed systems or even poorly designed systems with the data saying here’s everything we did wrong absolutely out there in the wild and that doesn’t happen people act like yeah like drawings are just just like closely guarded secret of someone gets a glance at that time we can start correctly industry wide open and that’s the system Sir you know I I don’t I think that is staring I understand one integrators because that is their hi Terry piece of information that’s something you know a lot of them have a design that you kind of you know when you’re creating your customers but for an end user why not why don’t you share that when you open that out to to the rest of the community because a lot of us could stand to learn from it absolutely so it sounds like a obviously open source the motivator behind that is because that’s how programmers learn to code mod most programmers used some kind of open source at some point in their life to %HESITATION to learn how to do what they do today and it’s just more I don’t know what it is I think maybe because it’s it’s more based on the individual and the immediate need I need some code to learn from right now and they appreciate that somebody gave it to them so they’re more willing to open source their own stuff so other people could could learn from that it will be nice to find a way to get that on an organizational level where people approach your systems with these products mindset and once once its archives wants to point oh comes out that one point no could be a out there for other people to learn from and it would probably improve our industry overall Sir really interesting take on things yeah and I think really my my view open sourcing mystery movie open sources mom giving someone for free like well you look for yeah yeah you look at it look yeah and that’s how you know like when I was learning HTML back when I was you know I was in early high school and you know what I was getting on like I learned by viewing source and just pulling it apart it was all visible I can see I can download scripts and look at things and that to me was such a valuable learning tool just beginning to look at it and I think that part of the you could go back to part of the reason that I think a V. industry struggling with getting new talent and most people drop in and have no idea what’s going on yeah because they don’t have a chance to then they’ll get a little sneak preview of it he was going off on the industry believes you should give that a try well what is it Hopkins the secret in that and that’s something you know on on linkedin I’ve talked to a number of people that have just they’ve asked for advice you know I’ve I’ve met them through other forums or even just on linkedin and they just reach out to unite I’m always you see someone interested in I try to give them as much as I can because to me just being able to see what the work looks like hopes to make a decision and I think the work is attractive but I don’t think it’s very transparent at the moment but you do day in and day out and and honestly I don’t really know what most eighty people there day in and day out maybe that’s why it’s that I don’t know what the day after day you know because I don’t agree for more I guess yeah weight in this one sanding is imminent firm where there is a lot of that to every project you kind of start from zero %HESITATION basically probably because we don’t know adopts these modern software development approaches where a lot of things are open source so you don’t have to repeat yourself over and over you you know just taking a package that’s already done in using it in your projects just dumb doing that is kind of a challenge right you got a copy and paste it make sure things line up the right way and things like that whereas with something like I’m a big fan and no jazz you just type in an PM in the name of the package you want to install in its party or project it’s it’s ridiculously easy I’d love to see more that maybe but it’s with the closed source approach it’s it’s almost impossible to start doing things that way so let’s talk about some different technologies we are we had a chat a few weeks ago and %HESITATION I know you’re also a big fan of WebRTC having worked at Google and I was really surprised this is actually my sweet and from what I just said there are a few open source projects pure GS and simple simple here are a few of them and the I was able to make my own video conferencing application in just a couple of hours using these open source technologies and it was based on WebRTC so what do you think if any WebRTC what kind of an impact it’ll have on on TV I think role so I mean I think when RTC is or used to change everything because it’s so because it’s been open source because it can adopt as a standard across all devices in any field you don’t go to the end of the page on that and you’ll see it’s like every browser except for internet explorer because it’s gonna be different but as does or not iOS android whatever Samsung’s Nero S. as in male supporter because Dane realize that there is a need for a year cross platform wave communicating it’s not perfect not subject to the whims of network and and things like that but I think for me just a pure development standpoint you know if I if I have a small company I can I can use liberty see free doesn’t mean websites I can just go in and type in a you know type in a random string a letters at the end of their address and it spins up a room and I’m gonna by people in the same experience you have on hang out facetime and experiences like that it’s a collaborative environment Jack I can talk to people and I think it’s it’s a really important %HESITATION two important piece of technology in changing the way we think about collaboration and I think one of the biggest things you especially you know bringing global into it one of the biggest things that they did was reduce the cost point that they could be so widespread is so saturated that everyone has access to it you know who I am in preparation for your for talking here I can I can I wouldn’t get a refresher on the you know the the history of video conferencing and it’s always been this this too will pass of hardware versus software you know you had intake should tell you Mary hardware based hardware hardware hardware you hadn’t seen you seen me the old Cornell written you know is basically the first software based video conferencing platform when its route and it’s always kind of band these two signs of things most of my first experiences with a video called video crossings and forms a Yahoo messenger and MSN messenger and scrape the sort of social platforms and I think people like me that grew up using social platforms for video don’t really want to go into a work environment and have this like heavy restricted way of conferences and I think that whatever T. C. helps unify a lot of the differences like obviously as a you know as a company we can’t like well everyone’s on face now not gonna happen doesn’t work because I mean you know then you get tied back to hardware again run but having a standard that’s open across all platforms you know the Saudis open across software doesn’t matter what you’re running your own home you’re running of RTC and I think that that ability to heavily saturated video into the environment is really valuable neon and like you said you could get up and running in a few hours with the basic you know costing service yeah I was I was really surprised at how approachable it was really was about the greatest programmer and it’s was a pretty amazed at that I like the way you pointed out that that dumb it is really a software defined solution sometimes I have a hard time explaining what software defined means and that’s a perfect example of it like if you if you have to use facetime then you need their hardware so it becomes hardware defines but when you can break free of that and %HESITATION application will run basically anywhere with minimal requirements and then %HESITATION then you deal with the software defined solution and things just become a whole lot more flexible and yeah and even like agile so this is you talk about it from the point of view of more of like collaboration video conferencing face to face meetings have you given any thought of using it as a WebRTC is is like a screen sharing solution on on a local network yeah absolutely I mean I think it works like I think they’re still having most end users and most likely people can wrap their heads around UC and UC is is a buzz word that’s been around for a long time and I guess is not a buzz word it defines something really specific and that’s chat video screen sharing you know it’s it’s it’s a way to collaborate across multiple platforms and I think that when RTC is definitely a good way to do yeah audio in screen sharing Chattan screen sharing I think it’s it’s uses are just however you choose to work yeah definitely okay so the last time we talked you told me you were a about to make you were traveling and you were gonna make a few stops on your way back growing growing up in the nineties it was %HESITATION pretty difficult not to escape that decade without getting a few piercings not not the big hole in your piercings that that the kids have these days but it was a very much a thing having piercings and of course tattoos are very popular would you care to share with us some of the things that you’ve been experimenting with lately that are kind of more technology oriented but along the same so RIAA I am I am fascinated by and and I and I think my first exposure to this and you know we’re gonna call by acting because you know you need a cool word for it all right though bio hacking is where you implants little bits of electronics into your body and then we’ve been doing this for years and years and years with animals take a little castle it’s got you know their name and address and information and animals on the scanner when you get that information humans have the same ability I’ve got plenty of little pockets of skin and places where I can hide things that you know won’t Jackson people don’t actually know about and so I am I am embarking on on my first two lance wanted be %HESITATION NSC along we are ID just because you never know what you need to clone and can refer to future proofing and there’s there’s obviously higher higher density medium you can put in with a little more pain and suffering but it’s an interesting way of working and I met a man in London and %HESITATION covered in tattoos he’s like I thought it was just some kind of insane writer in a bar started talking to her and she worked in security at Barclays and he broke the tactics cards so he he wrote an absent is the operator studio technique ardently getting attacked a car is a cold it was like that everything read out like this is a problem holy ground short sightedness I’m just thinking that you know because you have the proximity your say you said in a matter of minutes and take your card cloning here clone it’s my hand and I can walk around town just buying stuff however I want yes I have your information and I thought it was fascinating as I started researching some of the housing where it is and it’s all very %HESITATION yeah that’s not recruit at this point but there is no last name probably about a hundred to two hundred thousand people have some kind of implant that they’re working with other it’s you know magnetic so they can sense shields love like Christians do that so you can see if wires hot right now approximately to the magnets that are in your skin because it helps enhance the the sensitivity and I see your ID also pleased to store in Christian Jeez some people use it just for basic things like unlocking the phone it’s really about having having a little bit closer physical security of what you own you might my jeans situation would be to walk around with nothing but my hands and be able to buy things unlock my car and started unlock my front door and just not have to carry around cheese and dongles I mean I was just care and are ready but what’s the fun in that exactly sounds a little far fetched in in %HESITATION sci fi but %HESITATION yeah I I definitely think things like this will become more prevalent as as the use cases and applications become more commonplace and the reason I wanted to do it was you are talking about people who are just freaked out and part of it is like I I wanted to put into to educate myself I think there’s there’s two years it was a mistake ology because you understand it’s like yeah it’s a little are what’s the big deal right out what you know I I don’t I don’t understand that one of the people understand because we have super freak out when you talk about including implanted making all the tracking it’s like okay so that’s impossible I would have to be in an RFID reading worlds groom yeah inches away from me at all times to his hat that I have this season for me I’m the only one that knows that I have yeah not anymore what two or three of them to know where a lot of options the nose so I really like that overcoming your fear of technology by just educating yourself and learning about it given getting hands on that’s something that I think the AV industry could really do a lot more of so given your experience working with the enterprise end users what what some tips or advice you have for maybe integrators or software developers to kinda differentiate themselves and like even like a company like Google do they even use thirty party software no it’s now in the use of a little restaurant so there’s there’s crush on controllers needed most of it is developed in house as part of their their video boxing solution %HESITATION just just be clear you know because we don’t win touch on issues related yeah they run entirely on when RTC their entire platform so this may help develop the standard use it extensively in there can you sketch for why an open source platform can be deployed on a massive scale I think the biggest thing you can do is come in with concrete creative ideas I think a lot of end users are ready for something new you know me and we’ve been offering the same thing in just a little bit different flavor year after year that’s why you know she was like Infocom I attend them and I like them but I couldn’t skip probably two years at a time and not really a mess that much said yes there’s nothing in there but generally you go from Bruce Willis like %HESITATION woman different hardware you know different screen greetings slightly different there’s just little incremental changes and I think that end users would be excited by something new and different how would you kind of find out so there is this if it’s going to be new and different they obviously don’t know about it yet right otherwise they would be asking for it so there’s like this gap and I guess creativity is where that plays a role of you know what would be useful and and and creating something like that and and raising awareness about it any ideas on how to fill that that void there I hate I mean I think just showing off you know it it takes nothing to build yeah we talked about this site you know TV with little chaos that’s conduct a laptop with my PC sessions you can share like I’m just felt I just bill wireless screen sharing system that cross your minimal cost is minimal you do without interfaces and he’s in codes you can you can get a proximity sensor and gonna turn on loss and creates a unique code every time so there’s your security built than theirs features built and I think the fear is if you show something off like that and they ask for it when you got a deliberate gonna build it in so it’s it’s I I really think I don’t think integrators having some of to do that you know they they right now don’t have you know it’s it’s such a tight competitive market margins are pretty well set across all you know everything that yeah we differentiate you but also you’re putting you know you’re putting money at risk by going in and developing a solution and can take and mark your sense of on the toes manufactures I think really the place where I’m from is being used thing to ask for and some like me I believe heavily in in educating your educating without any strings I don’t like giving presentations where I get you know about ninety percent of them like you want the rest of the story sign up for my newsletter or hire me like I want to give you tools to start playing yeah maybe all you know maybe I’ll need help with it but maybe it’s just enough to spark your interest and get you going I’m really excited to see what the education market is going on will be later Cornell there goes digging and definitely when suddenly Cornell as from Cornell was the one who wrote see you singing which kicked off the whole computer based video conferencing movement so they have a history of of being innovators in in this case and I think that as you see more in action use cases you are you being a really good one it’s in use you can go see yeah about him is not is not just an idea you know we’re in right now we kind of we kind of sound like drainage but it’s on get up yes it’s happening it’s real and it exists just because you don’t see in this not being pitched year Bruno in above if you get above the you know the sales pitch and and what’s sort of the norm freeing starting to those sort of weird pockets of that you’re gonna find people doing really unique stuff that works really well he has so much to unpack there and think about %HESITATION we’ve been gone for awhile now do you have a few more minutes I do okay because there was one other thing that came up at the end of our last talk and that was contract manufacturing I think so is what is really going to get people excited because you were mentioning right is that that the margins are pretty much the same across product lines across integrators so what are you competing on basically I don’t know how much you’re willing to give up so maybe he actually contract menu manufacturing equipment could be an interesting way to arm to get back in the game somehow what were your thoughts on that I I agree I mean I think that’s that falls back in this idea of reading something as a product unifying if I understand you know what I was sitting in most cases you drop in this you know if you started managing and use a product you drop kind of in the middle of something by you have an idea of how many wins you have an idea of what’s needed and you can start looking for those opportunities to manufacturing equipment have it manufactured for it you know microphones is a good example and cables you know the markup on those isn’t saying I can get a six dollar microphone on Ali express granted after a hundred of them six all my component performs pretty closely to anything that most major manufacturers put out you know just local one hundred my that’s huge that’s a huge opportunities to you doctor to have control and a lot of those companies are making that want to work with you they want to work with you to improve the product they want to work with you to customize a and so you to start developing your own standards and making things around you know even even down to just you know it’s like I just want we want the court to be a different color cool yeah let’s do it let’s give you some noble designed flared what you’re telling I think there’s a huge opportunity there to re evaluate the way that you do you know if you know you the ownership of the beyond beyond what we have now and again I don’t want to pick extensively on integrators but they’re tied into a system that doesn’t you know that that kind of get you in if I can find a way to work through that around that I have I have opportunities to to explore this place is some sort of junk some sources and that’s where your valuation process you know your sample of everything out there and see what works and what doesn’t and then make a decision and go and I think that ultimately the the sense of ownership and they sent me on the actual levels control is is pretty cool yeah it definitely increases you do have to have some kind of scale in order to do that bottom yeah definitely a new approach that I’m kind of fascinated pie yeah I’ve I’ve spoken with a few folks and a good friend of mine is the material science %HESITATION engineer and he is the head of paramount for lighting company and when he first started in that role and no manufacturing experience and he said you know five years later you’d be surprised how easy it is to get a product made exactly to your specifications really brought me specify at you can source those parts because ultimately that’s what everyone else is doing then they’re going out there going on the finding someone make the driver will make their enough time allows you so make the driver some make the chat the other body yeah there’s there’s obviously still those your boutique shops that do things I am working on his part you find a company that does injection molding phone company that makes little drivers behind some put it all together and then you can pretty little bottom and there’s really no difference in going out and doing it yourself other than the effort and the confidence to do that in again that’s a level of ownership that I don’t know the lot of people are comfortable with same thing with owning your own design you can easily run your own design and layout sources of income that they will say this is what you’ll be installing but you’re responsible of the end for owning at I’m sure you do not everyone and I do want to carry out that that you know when we do talk about these ideas it’s not for everyone some user groups yes some users are going to respond well to it they want something that is extremely stable extremely reliable extremely not sent those can’t be but there is an element of you know there is some experimentation before you to release one Dato yeah sure and I think that that’s I think that that’s the challenge is it is having the confidence to take a risk and I think that’s you know that’s one of things that that I mean more than anything impacted need from being it rules they have this idea of what’s called the moon shot in a man shot is an actual risk I’m putting my money on my reputation or my job on the line for something that I think will be revolutionary and what they did when they developed their GDC system based on liberty scene was that they said okay we have a huge traditional infrastructure we’re tired of it it doesn’t work for us as a market scale they wrote their own video conferencing platform that’s insane yeah but it cannot massively it turned into a product for them on the market with that as a part of the G. screen right okay even if they never took the rest could still just being struggling through the simulation paramount says with their video conferencing infrastructure the limited you know they be they be cutting down on our video called because they just can’t support it so I think there are ways to take those looming shots within your environment you know build up a tolerance for risk you know try I assume it costs a little bit and if you fail it doesn’t hurt quite so bad and scale up from there until you’re just you know taking crazy risks excellent I love the sound of that contact anybody like to get in touch with you how they go about doing that %HESITATION you can get in touch with me on linkedin %HESITATION just my name calling Bernie be I are any why you can also email me call and ask Bernie consulting dot com and I will be happy to chat with you about whatever I’m always down for good okay lively discussion about the future of a zillion and what’s good and what isn’t %HESITATION so I’m I’m happy to chat with folks you know I’m not I am a consultant but I think I’ve been told by a lot of people that I’m not a very good one because they don’t sell enough so if you email me I never getting around asking if you need any help but I’m always happy to talk and and and offer suggestions and going in the right direction when you’re looking for something new and different that’s what I want ultimately I want to see our industry change once you get better and more creative and I think that is going to start with a few key people stepping on taking risks excellent thank you so much for being on the show count absolutely thank you better take care after hearing and thanks for listening to the show if you enjoyed this discussion if you liked what you’ve heard if you want to hear more discussions like this please don’t I leave a review subscribe to the show send me a comment get in touch with me somehow and let me know that you’re out there listening and that’ll motivate me to show so if you’re driving or whatever asks you reach to set something in your calendar to give you a reminder I thanks for listening to software defined survival for transcripts and show notes find survival
Jonathan Mangnall has a long history working with video distribution systems. He was Sales Director at Endeleo which was acquired by AMX in 2006, which as you all know way acquired by Harman in 2014. And our guest remained on a Sales Director and VP of Enterprise Sales through that time.
Just last year he decided to shift gears and embrace software defined AV by founding U-topia Technologies, which distributes Utelogy’s AV control and management platform.
this is a software defined survival where we talk to AV IT professionals and software developers to find out how to leverage software to reinvent ourselves and we do business we listen to their stories and ask for advice and tactics on how to survive and thrive in a software defined what today on software defined survive it is a world that accepts disruption of the moment so it’s a good time to be doing the still of the business for those that want to but there is a lot more business for those that do you want to change and surprise great and the getting greetings everyone in AV lands my name is Patrick Murray and welcome to software defined survival today’s guest has a long history working with video distribution systems he was sales director at Angelo which was acquired by amex in two thousand six which as you all know was acquired by harmony in two thousand fourteen and are read our guest remained on as sales director and VP of enterprise sales throughout that time and just last year he decided to shift gears and embrace software defined AV by founding utopia technologies which distributes utilities AV control and management platform please welcome Jonathan mangle Jonathan welcome to the show thanks Patrick in debt thanks for the introduction and that yeah we’ve been around a long time and in this space them but I think it’s time for bed is disruption so excited about what the future brings absolutely is there anything about the introduction you’d like to correct or expand upon no no that’s at the very start because it was an delay have not in the lead but set now we’ve we’ve been around a long time and this is a bunches of that started and a liar went to a mix and a few few remains and went into the home and Jenny and it was it was a fantastic journey in them I think something that we spend a lot of time doing was understanding customs needs were changing the way that we sell to people and that really leads into the software defined AV stuff because it’s all about the user the user experience the way that our customers interface with the technology both from an implementation of management center uses going to be at that takes is along this paradigm shift into software as a service threw up through the time amex we spend a lot of time understanding the custom Jenny and moving the sales process from being talking about technology to understanding the outcomes people needed I’m focusing on that so exciting to bring that learning that in the great learning that we got from those businesses into this New World and and you know it is all about the customer it is all about the outcome and and I think that software defined ate meat gives a better outcome to a lot more people than you know the key areas scuttle had we scale and a business that historically has been very difficult to discuss and the only sea world allows us to do that yeah absolutely it will we hear this word experience a lot lately with Infocom changing their name and just in general user experience instead of user interface and things like that and %HESITATION in AV yeah we I think you know you’ll always need some kind of hardware where the software will need to run but I think we get the sequencing wrong where we may come to a customer with solutions and present our solutions instead of first finding out what what it is that they need what their outcome is and I think the sequencing is is very important you know what what the order is what do you do first instead of looking at your solution look at what the customer needs and %HESITATION you mention that quite a few times and I think that’s a really important part of a software defined or any kind of solution at all whether it’s proprietary or not yeah I got you you’re exactly rights and the the the AV industry particularly because he’s grown up with experts in audio people that was sound engineers experts in video I’m that focus is always on the latest and greatest technology we need to have four K. we need to have whatever it is from an audio perspective he’s all about having the very best specification people have driven by product specifications rather than saying what is it these guys want to do what does it makes you look like how many people are in the group how they communicate I’m you know and sometimes the solution needs to be at the right price and it needs to be good enough to do what they need to do I’m a map is where the outcome can be defined more clearly I’m people don’t get hung up on crating something around a specification which is a technical specification model said go and you know in all of these things can be dependent on the environment using it all of those things importing these people can have a good meeting quickly reliably and at the right price absolutely I remember when I got started out one of the first companies I worked for the engineer and sales person would actually attend meetings at at the customer just to find out what their work flow was was like and I think that %HESITATION has kind of gone a bit missing over the years could you tell me a little bit about your most successful or rewarding AV project and and what made it special for you yeah that’s that’s a really good question and and and very relevance in it it was a large and insurance reinsurance company in London a couple of years ago and and they had a great sales team with me after that said amex in those days Jeff Gordon and his crew and we spent a lot of time is actually a on and going in moving into the island censored and ready interestingly that whole business as you might imagine the insurance reinsurance probably not the most exciting topic in the world but was depends on a lot of people wandering around London with reams of paper under the wrong having meetings with other interesting insurance people and they had fairly dowdy dull offices around so that the Devonshire square level market area multiple offices and I’m one of the biggest challenges as we got into understand the customer was actually around HR and staff retention staff recruitment and getting the right talent in that business and having the right talent is critical for the growth of any business so is there any relocated from multiple buildings to these new shiny cheese grated soured Monday the big focus was on that people the the experience they were gonna give them this wonderful new office space and the tools that would enable them to do that job back to but really importantly at a platform that they would create that would make them want to work there for longer also importantly to recruit the best talent you know from the graduate so what coming at a university that would come to this place and go wow that’s a place I want to work that’s a place that’s in line with the great experience I’ve had with technology it might wonderful university that’s you know the place for me so when we started the journey with you know as always we wanted to talk about how all product was back to the non compact which is in all of these key areas but as we went through that whole sales process we probably met thirty or forty people from the organization on I have to say probably less than ten percent of those people anything to do with technology we met everybody from the receptionist to that he eight to the CS CIO CEO who were interested in what this technology would mean to them how it would change the bottom they worked in a whole host of uses that we evaluated the products as we put in these proofs of concepts sounds simple and we won the business because we listen to them we spend an enormous amount of time understanding that needs discussing what they the outcome was they wanted understanding what that work flow was how they would interact with this but also educating them on on what using a new style video collaborative system would would me and at the end of the day and it causes to win the business and you have do we have the best products we we probably thought we did but it was really all about driving to the rights have come so your question was we had the most satisfying style you know in recent years because it takes all the boxes of what we’re talking about now that was incredibly satisfying buddy to sunset then set the standard for global romance and you know and again one of the things as we’ve all this conversation is you know from a sales perspective who for many organizations perspective you want to sell it once and deploy often so from the the end user is going to be you may want to specify it once and deploy often because it’s a huge cost involved in evaluating technology understanding how it’s going to be road where it’s gonna deployed and if they can be deployed in all the places you want to I am because not everything can be supplied everywhere and and often times the single biggest problem that but whatever the guy is the global head of meeting space is arriving have is actually around global logistics and supply chain so yeah I did a really great sales process to really untested outcome and you know we need more of that and that’s really set the scene for many organizations now they want to have standard solution they want to understand what it is that they use is making and that was one of them got to deploy that everywhere around the world simply quickly and at minimal cost absolutely as a as a programmer you’re singing to the choir programmers hate writing the same code over and over again you should just do it once and then you know deployed over and over again so that’s absolutely are extremely important point made here but what I really like about that story is how you pointed out the knock on effects of the systems that that we install it’s not only about collaboration in maybe a collaboration system but if that fails then that company may not attracts the right talent they’ll have staffing issues because of the technology deployed in that office and I think that’s a really interesting point to make is that the things we do have more facts than than what they’re directly intended for yeah and and yet a part of this is understanding in the stake holders are in the decision making process for a new project and often you know in the old in the old days it was the AV guys because they wanted to talk about speeds and feeds and they were obsessed with the technology the real stake holders now all the uses its corporate real estate it’s a job because you know they won’t arrive right solutions for that company and that is in a week might be the sales ladies because if it’s a sales organization they want to know how that can communicate faster with the customers with their colleagues I’m to drive business efficiencies to improve whatever it is that the organization does so yeah it it’s it’s a critical part of it and it’s not no longer nice to have it is mission critical and a V. typically hasn’t been if if if we didn’t used to work you know they’re just not use it or go to another space and it didn’t have the same cachet you have we don’t see eye sees coping ninety nine point nine percent uptime and a V. there I say because it’s our industry was probably eighty percent at best people got used to that we got used to the mediocrity as as we move into the I. T. space and you go video ever I’ve created with the products like SP aside and then there’s some things that are coming to the fore now I expect enterprise grade delivery and the getting so that’s a good thing yeah so we’ve got up our game a navy we want to %HESITATION change with the times let’s let’s shift do have something in common she’s gonna say and you have some are and some months and data that the still lots of business for those that don’t want to but there’s a lot more business for those that do want to change yeah there’s a lot of opportunity there but of course changes hard it’s difficult it’s scary and %HESITATION that’s kind of why I’m doing this podcast just to talk to people and get ideas and and some ammunition and some %HESITATION maybe some body armor on and how to make that change face the changes that are coming so let’s shift gears here and talk about the solution that you’re working with now you tell OG what is it that a difference differentiates utility from other control solutions I am I think primarily that they did it isn’t hardware dependent and there’s a couple things so it’s it’s seven based its cloud based it’s incredibly flexible it’s very agile and it’s it’s typically very low cost because there’s no hardware is next and see each other on the control room the room you don’t necessarily need an expensive touch final I’m and importantly we’re actually yeah I’m agnostic to one of the other systems that are installed so if people have an existing state of control technology you know from the big to an amex or Crestron we can control environment but we can also control new environments directly I’m using our own technology from a touch for new touch final point of view you can seven fights demo five owns it any device you want it could be a fine it could be a template or it could be at a desk lamp see them display touch display that it’s running android in something like that and you said the critical thing here is that it is software and it doesn’t have to be sold as a as a capital cost for project it can be sold as an operational expense which takes is into the as a service model which is something that is I think becoming more mortal to bounce around in the AV space is clearly something that’s been going on for a long long time in the icy world and but really that’s that’s where we come to with the solution and interestingly there’s not a whole week to talk about other than you can control you can monitor you can manage you can do meeting rooms you have a an online help desk everything that you would once in in this perfect AV world I’m you can have using a piece of software because with talking to the equipment and and receiving information once the Paso but you can also talk back to me equipment to make you do the things that a control system makes it do so really really simple inexpensive can be sold as a service so people effectively get more day one the may yet than they ever anticipated because there’s no capital outlay required if people want to go down that model yeah it’s it seems like a software and as a service %HESITATION kind of go hand in hand if there was some one thing so if you think about your your most successful dealers installers integrators and customers however it is it’s distributed which we’ll talk about the second if you think about them what and had to pick one or two things that really sets them apart the reason why they have success with you tell the jury what with those with those things me I am I think they understand the value of and a long term relationship with their customers said they’ve built some kind of a managed service model which represents you know ideally twin at ten to twenty percent of their their existing revenue if you don’t have a service model and you don’t have that mentality then you may not be the right organization you know the difficulty is that the majority of of of all current integrate Zampa right and and this is you know drug driven by the the end uses that operates on a capital expense model because the the time when a bi solution solutions refreshed and renewed it’s been driven in the event is normally moving into a new building when he moved to new buildings big capital costs put together which covers things like getting free they then have all of that AV solution until they move buildings again that’s not the case with on C. you know I see is refreshed when he seemed to be refreshed based on business outcomes the business needs I’m and you should be able to do that with a V. as well so there are organizations that have a service model and we’re talking to some of those at the moment and they’re excited what’s utility can bring that serves as the regions of the customers with small hands that they can have remote so that customers you know and and effectively they can extend this service model they can be we can say the word they can charge more for the service to give them a better outcome you know things like all you help facility to be on the cool directly to help desk and beat all of that on prime moral strength to support and I’m in a room more all of those sorts of things critical the site some businesses get they sometimes and and some some of the integrators will continue down the the traditional route sure foot for those so this also comes a lot is if people get it or don’t and I have a hard time coming up with a better way of saying that myself but it really is you either you understand and see this thing coming or or you or I don’t know I think everybody does understands that changes underfoot and but a lot of people are grappling with how to change and it really does come down to adopting a new business model and I guess it doesn’t have to be an overnight thing what would you say are the first steps would be the first step for a company that maybe is a little concerns but knows they have to make this kind of change it’s it’s a great question and it’s something that that is that an organization and as it you know with the border set you tell you we talk about a lot is what is our roots in markets and what are the critical factors of identifying all rights and I think so the will to change it is the most critical thing me the I think the ownership of the business need to look at where they want to be in a few years time you know because some business is the ownership is getting older and older there’s no succession plan that full they don’t really know what I’m there is some young guy organizations that have a very forward thinking and and it may be because they have an exit strategy I’m you know maybe they will insist make themselves attractive to be acquired by larger IT company you know there’s there’s all sorts of things I think importantly that people have the wherewithal to change their business model and it is no longer business as usual I’m any doesn’t mean they have to change it I would not you can run as a service model currently with capital models so you have these things are mutually exclusive I’m but it’s all driven by the ownership and if people come to me and they don’t understand the proposition and it’s not the band then that’s absolutely fine we’ve we’ve but we’ve got a loser early and we gonna move on to the next because because there is a whole heap of people out there that can help to deliver this and not all of them are in the traditional and the spice right which brings up the next interesting thing we had a short conversation before this call and you were talking about that that way AV projects are done it may be done by other types of companies can you talk about other types of a distribution channels or other types of of companies or markets that up me kind of replace some of what we do yeah absolutely and and this is happening right now %HESITATION interestingly there’s an organization we worked with this and that and the I. S. who work for me the largest integrates reigned in battle looks they were quiet last year by a French company an IT company called gonna come a multi billion euros organization rates in seventeen countries but they sell IT is a service their ambition is to ten a I S. again this is based on the leadership of the ice wanting this so you know it’s a great because they’re a forward thinking organization but these guys want to create ATV as a service backed by clinical I think they spend tens of millions of dollars every month on IT equipment that they then finance inputs into that customer base I want to take that model and replicates in the eighties space so that they’re an example of someone that he’s doing that here and now so you know in terms of a target audience like utility those guys are a great opportunity but if we also then looked back at the office environments we’ve lived in and works and for the last twenty thirty forty years is that is that I know a bunch of organizations that have had a presence in probably every office without work and those of the print copy guys you know there are some great models out there some great training grounds sales people alike since Xerox and Ricoh work these days who have sold photocopies and princes to multiple organizations they sold its X. model as nobody owns a fax a copy expected he rents it all of these devices now typically RP connected so if there was ever a need to service them or to send that will tell me that done automatically over the network and all of these network devices all of these organizations have a large number of break fix engineers all over the country support school of their customers I’m interesting me one thing that most organizations do less so now is prince copies so these these companies are looking for the next thing that replaces printing copying which is and collaboration if people have a meeting now yes they still use the document but it’s digital you can amend it you can change it you could draw on it you could modify real sign that the end of the meeting you send it to the rest of the the meeting participants said these guys interestingly %HESITATION neck customers because they typically got a three year contract that IT savvy because all of that device is Iraqi connected they understand the service model they understand what it means from a business point of view to a new customer and to own them for a long period of time what they have now is the opportunity to sell more services and and more technology into these places so we had a print copy market is something that is really interesting and I know who people like Rico are investing heavily in in people and that infrastructure to support this they have a monstrous customer base around the world and you know the people we’re talking to any man judiciary is is massive when you know the critical thing here is that many of the meeting spaces that are less complex never they were armed with solutions light utility there’s no programming nearly configuration and you can create a consistent level of experience an outcome really easily remotely in many of our customs rituals in that want to deploy the same solution all over their state whenever the world we have to manage monitor that and deploy it centrally without expensive technical resource on site is is music to everyone’s is fascinating fascinating you know in business it’s always important to know who your competition is both present and future and I think the way the way you did that you what kind of zoomed out from what we do and just kind of had a meta look at what we do and if you picture everything in the office as just appliances including the AV equipment then %HESITATION that can give you a completely different perspective and allow you to our to maybe yes and who your future competition might be and it could be come from completely out of left field something like a photocopy companies would be completely unexpected but it does make perfect spent sense when you are when you explain it that way absolutely and and I I think you know we’ve also got a look at what’s happening in the rest of the world in terms of wet disruptions coming from and the things that we do now in our everyday lives we didn’t do very few years ago and we’ve we’ve we’ve very quickly changing at that this New World and the critical bit here is that the majority of people in the gonna be using this technology are just regular consumers and the guys that go down the High Street by mobile bite on the contract and and you know they buy the thing that they like them if it’s as simple as that wait wait can be talking to tens of thousands of organizations that have no idea about what brand of technology is that they use in their offices they just know that they get a good I’ve come and they don’t care absolutely and and what should so another point you you touched on was that no programming ends this is also an interesting kind of %HESITATION dichotomy with software defined solutions you can do a lot more configuration so just a quick question where do you see guys like myself AV programmers how can they still provide value in this kind of an environment okay does it is a couple of points there is that the the the old Davey space isn’t going to go away is still going to be lots of big boardrooms conference rooms conventions senses stadiums they need the arts and crafts style of programming complex one off solutions those on going away what’s happened here is the market is as gods and monstrously big you know by the proverbial fact true maybe even a hundred you know with the we talking about whatever it is fifty five million meeting spaces around the world you know if you actually start to do some modeling around many spaces you want to have on the management in your business over here to tell what that looks like from a financial model that becomes really exciting so going back to the program is there’s loads of work still for everyone today because in reality there’s never really been in the program is to go around what what what what’s happened is the market’s got bigger and but as the market gets bigger is go bigger in terms of volume meeting spaces that are typically less complex and you know and while some show lots of companies will tell you differently a meeting room in a bank is the same as a meeting room and insurance companies Sam’s a meeting room and legal company echo doesn’t need to be any different what does need to be is robust proven and we’ll give you a great outcome every time we doesn’t need to be buggy because you just have to buy a different piece of code because someone’s a different in that room that’s not where we want to get to all of that stuff will still exist however one of the things that we want to do we want to build a community of people that are able to write drivers and you know as we go further wider into managing different technologies we still need drivers and in a way writing drive is all day every day of we already have a community with it within the challenging business across the world the right to drive is all the time so there is an opportunity if you can program in C. shop and there’s lots of young kids out there that could programming C. shop as well that they can help and so I’m like we have to adapt an adult new methods and processes whether it’s from a child’s point of view an implementation point of view and programs need to do sank nothing’s forever and people can keep on doing the same things forever I’m sure this will be a living so we might but there’s there’s also lots of different ways of doing things you know we always need grace and uncool user interfaces you have people looking great stuff and I smell on live it’s a different it’s a different different things that we need to but it it still programming and and %HESITATION writing codes and but but to a different level it states that you had some great points there out will there’s but so they’ll always be a need for custom right they’ll always be custom projects that don’t fit into any kind of a framework some of the other things that you mentioned were like HTML five and C. sharp and I’m really of the opinion that you don’t need to be young kid out of college to learn these new languages I’ve done it myself it takes a week or two or maybe even a month of of some painful learning it’s not exactly easy but once you get over that initial hardship of of the of changing how you think about things I think you’re much in a much better position because you bring all of that AV experience that you had with you on to these new platforms and it it just it could be really powerful and I think it’s a it’s a big opportunity so you mentioned writing drivers what would that look like a like an absolute type of the thing or would an integrator find a programmer for the special drivers that he needs yet I’m and the I mean it’s it’s there’s two things here that it would be great to have a driver that does everything that a product can do but if you had something complicated like a video will control the you know you don’t necessarily need a drivers to be able to change the color balance you need drivers to be at a do whatever it is you want the use it’s we have to do which is maybe some presets in some configurations with the video that comes back to looking at the outcome first absolutely %HESITATION but because we’re managing and monitoring it may be that there are states of that device that you want to manage and monitor but you wouldn’t necessarily need to control you see what I mean are you wanna know what what’s going on that you may want to know the temperature you may want to know the utilization but you eat at night needed to work so sometimes the drivers may need to be more complicated and complex and ending up it sounds less so I’m so we want we want to build a community of people that are right respected to understand what the outcomes are put them back into the intelligent machine will verify them and and you know they’ll be there up in the cloud for everybody to use and and that’s growing old son you know because one of the one of the things it’s important here is that some people want to buy solutions not utility only for the management and monitoring I’m so into a number integrates is actually now you have a larger states custom is they they manage but they didn’t have the granularity and in terms of what they can manage and monitor so this gives them the opportunity but again drivers will need to be written for the sum of the legacy equipments and that but that’s the same with any software solution absolutely you if your ends correct buying a safety for your business you’ll spend whatever millions is on that but then another probably five times that implements thing you you you you can’t just plug it in and he’s gonna do everything round that day needs to be the appetite to to do the legwork as well to get the outcome so in those instances so going back to you know skills of people like you sell this stuff to be done that absolutely yeah Sir when yes there’s just nothing nothing’s going away and in the same way that you know as as a business as as running a sales team getting a sales team to show that they’re right focus from the capital sale sewer I don’t take sides whether getting an amount per month is actually very difficult thing to do you know of sales people to coin operated and if you change their business model everyone has to adapt so it’s not about if the if you go through the whole market everything needs to change I’m you know something’s going to change radically some things need to be tweaked but it is changing and the only way to succeed is to embrace change and move forward with it and as with every walk of life some people do some people down and then it is a it is a world that accepts disruption of the moment so it’s a good time to be doing it great for is the Monaco again that it is a world that accepts destruction that is true we see it all over the place they requested a I’m Frank Pellkoffer CEO of Utelogy. said I should ask you about the machete club where the mission I cut out the machete clueless is sorry that Frank yeah that sets up a couple years ago and it’s really fat people in the industry you will go out with a machete and they will Wade through the jungle than that will create a new path for is because the raw the complexities of an old state organization where people say this is the way we do it in a recount do it that way so sometimes you need people to bludgeon you and Frank is set this up with a number of industry friends and and people in the industry that like to think a little bit differently and who out frankly out for a bit of destruction and so I went to the machete club drinks evening in that an icy and it was in a remote location in a very funky are on the side of the dock somewhere nice you can tell me where is because I’m not really sure how we got there by bus and but it was it was a great it was a great evening and there was lots of like minded individuals that that they wanted to talk about changing and understood the need for change not change for the sake of it but you know where do we go in the future and people that on I am on a freight to throw ideas around and then you know this is a great quote that I like to use it was from an ice hockey man Wayne Gretzky that you miss a hundred percent of the shots you know and I don’t think that’s really true you’ve you’ve got to really look at the market and and try things not everything’s going to work but you know if you got a file fail quickly and fell cheaply but let’s have a go and because I’m just doing everything the same way and expecting a different outcome is is it is not really the way forward so we have to adapt to changing the machete club is really all about is people out that some young some old that I’ve got some great ideas and he provides a platform for people to talk to each other and to have those ideas and and hopefully driving forward and you’ll probably see a lot of stuff coming out soon Adams machete club members because that’s where the entrepreneurial spirit lies and then I’m excited that with parts of excellent I think that is a great sentiment to wrap up this show on if anybody would like to get in touch with you or find out more about utility or the machete club how would they go about doing that and my website which is evolving as you dashed hope yet don’t tack and my email address is Jonathan the mangled it you don’t you dash terapeuta track and alright go to the utility websites as well and you can find one of our contact details that but Sam we’re out in the market we are disrupting it’s phenomenally exciting time and %HESITATION I’m excited to be possible thanks very much for your time Patrick Johnson thank you so much for being on the show she is alive Patrick here again thanks for listening to the show if you enjoyed this discussion if you liked what you’ve heard if you want to hear more discussions like this please go to iTunes reader review subscribe to the show send me a comment get in touch with me somehow and let me know that you’re out there listening and that’ll motivate me to keep doing shows so driving or whatever asks you to set something in your calendar to give you a reminder to go outside thanks thanks for listening to software defined survival for transcripts and show notes go to software defined survival
Jim Spencer works in the trenches as a university support technician. But don’t let that title fool you.
He’s introduced some pretty innovative ideas that we dig into in the interview.
He started his career in HiFi getting involved of everything from sales to installation and service then moved on to working as a lead technician for a commercial integration company before landing at the University of Notre Dame where he helps support their technology needs.
Here is one of Jim’s presentations on 3D Printing.
this is a software defined survival where we talk to AV IT professionals and software developers to find out how to leverage software to reinvent ourselves and the way we do business we listen to their stories and ask for advice and tactics on how to survive and thrive in a software defined today software defined survival the other kind of no control systems that we’ve done are the ones that don’t actually have it all folks walk up and use it as they want and then they disconnected walk away when they don’t there are many sources a Patrick Murray here before we get started just a quick one about today’s guest he talks about so more traditional control systems that are certainly not software defined solutions but the way he’s using them the applications he’s come up with are pretty interesting and you’ll probably find it useful but the real reason I wanted to have on the show was for his insights on three D. printing and how it applies to AV and we get into that towards the end of the interview I hope you like it good morning good evening good afternoon where ever you are the world’s welcome to software defined survival my name is Patrick Murray and today’s guest works in the trenches as a university support technician for AV but don’t let that title fool you he’s introduced some pretty innovative ideas that will dig into it later he started his career in hi fi getting involved everything from sales to installation and service then moved on to working as a lead technician for a commercial integration company before landing at the university of Notre Dame and I’ll have to ask him from saying that properly correct yes yeah all right where he helps support everybody there with their technology needs so welcome Jim Spencer two software defined survival welcome Jim Sir so a pleasure to be here thanks for having me yeah thanks for jumping in at short notice I appreciate that is there anything about the introduction that you’d like to correct or expand upon Nobel sounds pretty good gone from ma of you know I find residential to a commercial educational to to being in higher ed so it’s been interesting stepping stones along the way and learned a lot of of different nuances that have helped one of the other and and you learn multiple facets of the industry and it’s interesting what transfers it is very faceted and new once there’s there’s like this core knowledge that you could carry over everywhere but especially going from Razzie to a university is a yeah it’s it’s in the details that you need to always be as rich fault though the user of the programmer well it depends on who you’re asking is that one of the customer there you go so how did you get started in AV so my first job that was directly related AV %HESITATION actually probably was automotive one of the jobs that wasn’t listed from the intro that you read my very first job when I was fifteen I worked at a used car lot in the dirty secret of Karloff’s is they buy a lot of insurance recoveries and racks and things like that and one of my first jobs was actually wiring up cars ahead stereos it’d been stolen so somebody with a box cutter cuts you know eleven or sixteen wires are money here and in the stair stereo in that dash and you’ve got to put any unit from a junk yard or something like that so you learn really quick you can go in with a double a battery and pop your speakers figure out what’s what and you know you’ve got your constant twelve volt in your keyed switch twelve volt near ground and you know I started work on the wires almost as soon as I had a job and that’s really what stock so did really well with that I was also involved in a lot of pro audio did stage performance was a guitarist for a long time and and had a lot of experience with that so it’s kind of band this passion in this underlying theme moved into hi fi actually my uncle owned the shop that we worked at we were a BMW dealer did Macintosh two vamps and run co and you’re really really high and stuff which interestingly worked in a very conservative town like ran so got a lot of experience there and also learned a lot of people skills about how to speak with different customers and I saw people of all different classes and stature some jobs and professions and and picked up quite a bit of fog tax that I’ve used in the industry there which my uncle retired then I moved along to vist AV that you’d mentioned that was the university vendor or I did my first conference rooms and learning spaces and things like that and that led to a job at the university where I’ve been on the front lines of a couple different teams and it’s been really enjoyable here nice thanks for that overview you hit on a few things I want to I want to go back to their as especially the car audio thing I could really identify with what you’re saying with like the car battery to figure out what wire the speaker was connected to and I had a lot of the same experiences when I start a navy of really that down and dirty you know cut the cable and figure out what’s going on with it but yeah that’s that’s a very analog thing right if you were starting out today I don’t know if you’d really have that kind of experience sure with loudspeakers and things like that that’s still analog and sure and and that would still work that kind of idea but I wonder if from somebody coming up in in this more digital environment would have that same that same kind of experience and also if that still has a lot of value right yeah I mean you can’t troubleshoot HDCP with a double a battery in a twelve August light no chance at all right so it’s a lot more cerebral yeah and I think that was really good kind of %HESITATION from the ground up like you’re saying from a foundational level that may not exist for some folks in the industry now really learning troubleshooting skills that is something that I I’d argue is almost borderline are it’s very very hard to teach people that logical sense to where if you get a trouble call you almost know what it is and what you’re gonna do to fix it even if they described it poorly just based on the room designer what the code is are you on unfortunately it sometimes something you’ve %HESITATION inflicted on yourself but having that sixth sense of of knowing what’s wrong in being able to troubleshoot is really really helped by starting at the very very ground level like that so you mention you play guitar as well and yeah I look there’s a lot of musicians in this business obvious out ends to marry that back to the trouble shooting idea I really think that especially as a guitarist for you have a lot of pedals and stuff you know you’re always Patchen stuff around it has a lot to do with signal flow does that’s really what troubleshooting comes down to in my mind is you know there’s this chain of of events of devices and connections and somewhere in there something is wrong so having that mental model of the signal flow or just that that that concept of you know it starts here and it ends there and there’s stuff in the middle I think is really helpful when trouble shooting yeah and you also figure out those really weird quirky things too like I hear the harm until I touch the tone knob on this specific battle somewhat alright you’re putting a piece of tape there to apply the same pressure and you know things that shouldn’t work that way and and have absolutely no reason to be fixed that way you accidentally find out you learn little tricks of things to look for an you know ways to read things that can save the day sometimes definitely definitely so you never know where that experience will come from yeah I think I heard a lot of things about ham radio guys having yearly interesting tricks you know and same kind of thing that you’re saying with cars and and guitars it’s really hard to learn those accidentally you have to be in the field and get that experience from one common places yet for sure for sure so everybody navy has at least one story usually too many stories about the nightmare projects Roger let’s let’s not talk about those can you tell me about your most rewarding AV projects and and what made it special for you how interesting most rewarding project let me think for a moment on that I think I pause because side it’s not that there’s a lack it’s because there’s no overabundance owner pick one that really feel special you know I think that’s a an exception for most people it’s easier to pick the %HESITATION the nightmare project sure sure yeah that that exist far too common unfortunately I guess I’ll just brag on our most recent classroom upgrade we’ve gone from systems that include analog only to analog and digital on until recently we’ve offered a VGA connection everywhere and we decided you know let’s let’s do this right let’s do this the real way let’s have a full four K. HDCP to signal path will go digital only in fact think Intel just dropped the bites on the chip that even support analog video to wear new laptops won’t even do that anymore so we designed a completely four K. compliant system minus display devices we haven’t gotten there on the actual displays yet almost all HDMI in digital switching HD based TV control over IP also adding functions like cameras were never had them so we could do things like this where there’s a zoom call in a room previously that would have been a quick check out and and sneaker net install we’ve really really been able to roll all the great ideas that we can a droll over for the last few years into a system that is affordable and works and and trying to build a bare bones program dot from a lacking functionality point of view but from a not over constrained point of view and it’s been a rewarding project so far got two pilots and plan to do about ten more and so far so good we’re planning to keep on Truckin with all right tell me more about the control over IP aspect of the program when it I want to know about that sure so I gave you a preview on a comment yesterday on the weapon are but a lot of our devices are Crestron connected displays which means that I think they call it one different thing in the sales brochure versus simple windows I think it’s a room you connected display in the programming language but basically it’s it’s kind of what CC was supposed to be but never was where there’s a standard set of commands there’s there’s one simple and it has on off volume up down mute that I think they’re sixteen input sources in a lamp hours out put something like that but it’s a just generic enough to work and just you know specific enough not to be over specific symbol that top basically put in the program and you run it and then you point the device back at the IP address of the process so that you want and it just works been a couple of tanks and bumps in the road and and it’s been a learning experience but I can write a program and swap a projector a flat screen or whatever we need to just by changing the menu on that device to point back at the processor so it’s our first time doing that before there was always this fear of the network you know it’s the device that we don’t own and manage and we don’t have the key to that closet we can’t do the the patching our cell phones which rules and and all those sorts of things obviously with the AVI to convergence we should have left that thought process behind about ten years ago we’re just starting to get warm to that reality now and %HESITATION doing IP control the way that we have been is really what brought that to the surface for us and and made us realize yes this is working yes let’s plan systems around this it’s not just an experiment or something to do in your development lab it’s it’s something to deploy and put everywhere yeah definitely it’s a it’s nice to hear that you had some success with that %HESITATION connected solution I don’t think it’s the gleaming star the the everybody wishes for you know I I don’t think people by displays specifically for that feature or a you know it’s not in the comparison grades when you’re going between models but it’s been a nice convenience instead of having to find a specific module for specific display every single time sure sure glad it’s working out for you control is often an afterthought unfortunately so you mentioned the jumping on to the network and having some concerns about doing that and of course I see it all the time in AV projects we we make like an isolated network right a lot of people for that very thing you were talking about that fear of having to integrate with a a real I. T. system and yes deal with the I. T. administrators and things like that will either avoided altogether or make your own isolated network so so how how was that experience working with the I. T. department and getting your devices on their network sure so I I think the evolution in mind set in higher there used to be the computer guys and then there were the AV guys and AV guys were real quick to draw a line with well chose a signal on my VGA cable so it must be your problem yeah there’s a lot of finger pointing back and forth between the two different silos and it’s been that way with networking and a lot of places to really lucky to have great really approachable network guys but they’re also constraints that they have to follow you know there’s information security to worry about we’ve got a little bit of a typical network that zone so there’s a student zone in a faculty staff zone and what we’ve been able to use quite handily is called the campus services on and that’s where they put printers and devices like that that all parties need access we learned that lesson early on actually with versus solstice we had a wireless display solution and we’d registered in the student zone because that’s where a lectern computers were in public things in the first time a faculty member wanted to have the faculty staff meeting in the room it didn’t work at all you know those parts of the network didn’t touch each other so we’ve learned a couple of little tricks like that and how that works now we’re actually on the edge of Rome system which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with or not it’s it’s kind of a cooperation between universities so five got my log in at Notre Dame I could go to you know pick somebody do Georgia state Oregon wherever that may also have eduroam and I’ve already got a log and I don’t need to be added as a guest or %HESITATION approach their I. T. desk or anything it’s shared network access wifi generally between universities fastening their other nuances overheads are but not screen sharing or anything like that it’s just a to get on the network yeah it’s mostly your password eighty get out to the web kind of stuff okay so that’s another kind of thing that we’ve learned with those wireless video systems you can be on the network that says it’s the right one but internal folks versus external folks have a little bit different set of rules yeah absolutely as they should and those are the things that you need to watch out for it it really comes down to planning in the end long just to our industries change that’s kind of the evolution that networking is gone through at least that’s visible to me is you can make those things more accessible to more people and really offer that convenience but still keep it secure and and working efficiently certainly certainly so well ever since Infocom changed its name to affix a yes I need to let your doctor of love it is right for you well if if you see that in German it’s it’s much much worse it’s you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother it doesn’t say how to cut it all but we’ve gotten so experiences kind of become a buzzword since they’ve done that and dumb it’s something we should always be emphasizing in AV we should be thinking of the user’s first and thinking of the black boxes lasts right but I think this idea is kind kind of come up more and more so what is your approach when you’re designing a system or or upgrading in existence an existing one as far as experience is concerned yeah so this is changed a lot %HESITATION in the short time I’ve been in the industry it used to be all about the gear you know you look at the spec list and you had to have the right number of ins and outs and and now I mean the new systems with things like and be accessed via sigh you just put an end point everywhere and you figure out the program in the middle and and you were not worried about big switchers and and things like that anymore at least for moving that direction it seems but the experience is really paramount and that’s something that took the industry a little bit to figure out I think I think it’s because of mobile phones and smart devices and and you know how things have changed towards material design over time and things like that you know somebody goes up your touch screen there used to be a a receptionist that had a binder and she opened it to the right page and and you know you’d see the fourteen steps that you needed to turn on the room and and things used to be really disconnected and tedious and somebody walk into the room and say well I just turned on my I pod and I go here and and click on this and it works why can’t I do that here originally I think our industry thought will think of all the buttons you’re missing all the features you don’t have and we didn’t think of the user experience you know the what’s the actual expectation of someone using the room versus what can it do and and what all can we cram in they’re kind of two different actors and we had to choose one so I think the industry slowly been warming up to it we’ve certainly been changing our philosophy when we go into things like that a good example is a building that we put up and twenty twelve beautiful classrooms I mean they’re they’re full video conferencing suites where you can actually one classroom connected to a second classroom or push to talk microphones at every seat there’s Cammarata nations so students can ask a question in either room in the professor can see it that’s in the recording and and it’s really really elaborate an amazing but it’s tedious to use the the touch screen looks like a control console and we get more calls from folks that just wanna show one thing actually set up like a broadcast studio you pick your source and get a preview but then you’ve got to send it or hit that take button or whatever but you use on it to actually routed to the display and I don’t think that’s anywhere else user facing on campus in hindsight that’s not the way we should design those rooms the next revision will be really really simple compared to that press on the thing that you want to see and and maybe that means you want to see it should just do that yeah that’s this a flexibility usability trade off and you know sometimes there are rooms like that that require that kind of functionality but it almost sounds like a room like that needs to be staffed right there has to be a technician presents it to make it to the top rated because you need that training without it right and you can train the folks but you know we’re we’re digital natives somewhere around this Saturday we’ve got a comfort level that the average person definitely does not so they have other things on their minds right there is occasion to make sure that and that’s kind of the underlying philosophy in higher ed that’s driven this is the professor shouldn’t have to worry about anything but its content yeah you know if there’s a production %HESITATION that needs to happen any part of that that you can automate or streamline or or make you know half of a millisecond quicker and more efficient we need to do that that’s what we all the customer and you know we we should start thinking of them as clients instead of customers it’s our obligation to help them and we’re providing these things and it it should be a partnership instead of a service provider you know yeah absolutely %HESITATION they use these things every single day yeah right and so it’s it’s it’s amazing how much of a affect you could have on somebody’s everyday life how they were you know if they deal with it every day they got a fight with a touch panel or doing something just because we provided this functionality that they probably only need ten or twenty percent of the time right I I I get this feeling that collectively in a V. we try to cover every base possible and try to make things as rock solid as you can and %HESITATION we kind of %HESITATION get into this phase where you know if they’re only using eighty percent or eighty percent of the time they do the same thing that’s what we should be doing and only that and that’s kind of where all these web services and and mobile apps and things like that that people are used to using that’s where they focus their attention is on that eighty percent use case and that’s how they make these things so simple answer we kind of way it as the same you know that eighty percent and the twenty percent extra functionality that they may need it someday probably will need but they don’t use it every day we we give that the same waiting that’s kind of how I I see I see how this plays out sometimes and I think there’s a difference in markets too I remember from the residential days you know somebody that bought a specific device you know say it’s a Blu ray player or something they’ve compared it and you know Stereophile magazine against the eight other competing models and they know their does the special chapter scrubbing feature if there’s a button missing that customers going to tell you yeah it was called the the AV repeat was missing from the touch screen and world thinking like who ever use is that we got the request you know and and it’s the exact opposite in commercial spaces and I read spaces one because expectations are different you know the focus of the room isn’t gear centric and two because you’ve got multi user spaces it’s not the same person that always owns the same space they’re moving around you don’t know who they’re going to be if you can train them in advance things like that and again it’s the last thing that somebody using one of those spaces should have to worry about the professor doesn’t care at all what the video switching is how it operates they just know if they hit laptop they want laptop to show up that’s more than one button press we failed them so tell me about this a one button studio concept sure so the history of it I’m sure many folks are already familiar with it but I believe in two thousand ten Penn state had these really nice studios they had you know professional lighting and sound treatments and and high resolution cameras the needs the other places and they were great and it was a combo kit news our studio we’d love for you to spend time you’re kind of a space that wasn’t closed off and on by department and and things like that but people were intimidated by it and and didn’t come use it and they kind of thought about that philosophically for a bit and said well because it’s too hard to use let’s make up a one button studio so I’m sure that’s the description that they gave it that then became its name instead of vice versa but who knows but the concept as you walk into a room with a thumb drive get in hit the record button you record whatever it is that you want to you know capture hit the button again and you walk away with your video you don’t have to set anything up you don’t have to stage anything or or you programming or or really any production you’re just hitting a button and walking out with a video and that caught on like wildfire in what was really interesting about it we’re talking about different customers and different expectations actually saw that coming from the academy more from more than from the tech people we had professors asking for it before anybody in the IT group thought and that’s a really cool idea there is that skepticism kind of like with putting things on the network or you know collaborating with the computer guys that Sloane is to change which hopefully is a character trait where we’re getting rid of and moving beyond soon here but yeah they the professors actually would approach us and say Hey we saw this thing we think it’d be really cool we think our students would love to use it let’s do that so that happened to us and we said man we should put one of these in and when we looked at it the Penn state system runs natively on a mac many I believe so you’ve got to be able to pull a and B. licensed foreign administrates are OS X. of some sort than their app runs on top of that there’s a couple of video switching things and they’ve got a chroma key in a green screen thing and and there’s part of it little do picture in picture and we looked at all the things that it could do and said you know basically were were putting a studio quality microphone and camera into a room instead of a camcorder we want to be that simple let’s let’s get rid of this green screen thing let’s get rid of this picture in picture thing let’s just do a quality recording that that’s what we’re asked to do and Hey we’ve got these lecture capture devices in the closet and we’ve got this camera left over from this project let’s just work together was stuff that we’ve got so we looked at it and we had like a set up a recording device already that was a call in a V. appliance instead of a computer which made us a little more comfortable because our department isn’t generally computer folks well I can poker capture HD and and halfway know what I’m doing or or the %HESITATION SMB three fifty one something like that where is an app written for a mac it breaks I really don’t know where to start fixing it so that that made us pretty comfortable then camera wise you know we’d selected different things for for different jobs in the past but we didn’t need a studio quality camera that had fifty seven little buttons on it and its own menu in its own firmware and and we said why don’t we just put like you know Panasonic makes this can that’s our own search a camera that kind of shaped like a soda can has no extensible buttons on the outside of it you plug in HDMI cable into it and you get video through that it’s it’s as simple as that just work like so we put a recording appliance and an easier camera on a shot gun Mike and then we said well how do we initiate this are we make the button do something so we’re we’re Crestron house our request run program that starts the recording when you hit the button and stops recording when you hit the button again should we added some studio lights along the way and one of the things we’re proud of actually off the record button is by the door of the room you walk to where the axis marking the spot in the beginning of the recording then you walk back to the back of the room to hit the end button so we wired up to use a guitar amp pedal an homage back to my life sound days I guess nice you can hit the stock box from the acts on the floor and not have to edit out the beginning and ending of your video very nice that that’s a cool little hack I like that is that does that have anything to do with the no control interface just had a few things in my notes from the emails we exchanged yeah so on the one button studio I would call a low control interface when I’ve presented on this at conferences before actually you know we’ve done it in jest but we went into our one button studio that’s actually built to the Penn state model and we found every single button that we could there’s easily a dozen I’m on the camera there’s a switch on the microphone there’s a video switch that’s got a a toggle in to push buttons and they picked a monitor that had front facing button so I’ve got this mean collage of the fourty buttons that are in the room of the one button studio in ours is literally just one it’s a big red mushroom but it looks like a game show buzzer everything else is you know behind the scenes are locked in the rack and and there’s only one button and it only does one thing and we haven’t had to explain it to anybody yet it’s been great that’s perfect that’s that’s the kind of feedback that you want no feedback right inches either it’s broken it doesn’t work at all or it works perfectly yes it’s it’s perfect for the phones are down nice so was just about no control which is kind of the next evolution of that yeah no controls what we started doing our collaboration spaces where previously if you walked into one of our team rooms are a bunch of laptop cables and there is a touch screen and you you know press the button that you needed to make your thing go off on screen and and it was kind of that old school traditional control mentality now our thought is well every person on the planet we goals are mouse to wake up their computer monitor why don’t we just do that with the PC in the room C. wiggle the mouse the video signal starts and there’s a pretty good chance that means you want to see it on the screen so let’s turn on the TV let’s switch to that employed and you do need to press any buttons makes sense that a step further and you do that with laptop imports there’s magically you know if at a moment in time sink appears on a laptop cable probably means you are shown on the screen just switch to that one why do you need somebody to push a button to say that yeah we didn’t want that they see their thing they go crap they unplug the cable it goes back to whatever it was before old auto switching is really the the magic that’s made that happen not the device is necessarily need to do that but if we can sink detect we can program that behind the scenes end up pretty safe to assume what someone wants to do in a room like that based on video sync yeah it’s a I’m really amazed that it kind of took us so long to reveal it to make that exist in these it’s not even standard yet it’s it’s popular but it’s not it should be a standard feature that like when video was directed you switch to that input and okay you can disable that if you want but it really should be the default yeah and I think my theory on that is a little bit of it was hardware related you know you didn’t want a room to turn on automatically when the computer came on if it was a project of the took ninety seconds to warm up and it’s recorded off you had to wait a few minutes now you know with the laser projector you can get on and off unless there’s a desk than some of our flat panels actually so five still years ago when %HESITATION flat panels became affordable to use and meeting spaces we started doing that and we got rid of those are you Sir pages and and stuff like that that previously would initiate timers and add extra steps and buttons and we started to streamline one flat panels became more common now laser projector we decided to treat him the exact same way where there’s no harm done you’re not you know adding up lamp strikes that are fatiguing your Lampson and things like that but just turn it on its quick if the off button just turn it off that’s quick to an auto switching kind of lends itself to that there doesn’t need to be in on button because you’re not fatiguing your gear at a plant powers are damages done by this thing just turn it on because you wiggle the mouse right right if you had a great point there I mean the technology changes a lot faster than our habits aids is the programming somethings for so long in a certain way and you kind of take it for granted yeah and %HESITATION yeah I think it’s a really great idea just to look at you know and inspect the things that you do the normal standard practice is that you have every once in awhile and and just look at him and say you know do I need to do this anymore and you know right up down pages start up bar graphs things like that completely blocking out the user from doing anything because of video projectors starting up maybe there was an argument for that ten years ago but you’re absolutely right today it’s like it’s it’s it’s why would you do that at all yeah you don’t need windows X. P. are you really really really sure you want to shut out we’re serious yeah that’s just unnecessary now devices are quick and and you’re not damaging anything there there’s no reason to put that in to protect anything anymore yeah yeah the other %HESITATION go ahead I’m so bored no go for it yeah I was gonna lab rate that the other kind of no control systems that we’ve done are the ones that don’t actually have controls at all we’ve got a couple of rooms where there’s just a wireless collaboration device and the TV turns on based on a timer at seven in the morning and turns off at ten PM or or whatever it’s set to and folks walk up and use it as they want and then they disconnected walk away when they don’t and and there aren’t any sources to switch it’s all user controlled by the device they’re connecting to instead of what we think of as traditionally the gear one I’ve got some theories about doing that with occupancy detection is a little bit of lecture city to that that was course the next question is is it it’s just on all day and yeah there was no source connected to two shows a black screen I guess right will chose the IP address for someone to connect to our okay a connecting instructions yeah and we looked at it and and the power consumption on the new LED TV’s is decreased from what the old CFL back light displays were to where we don’t feel that bad about leaving TV’s on and we’re seeing high utilization so %HESITATION convenience certainly cost something and we we decided to spend it on some electrons there and it’s worked out so far right right if of course there’s a lot of parameters to take into account their you have is the room occupied like are the rooms being used so how often is it you know just idle and on and %HESITATION again that technology catching up the power consumption is less so these old fears we used to have of %HESITATION wasting energy and things like that aren’t may not be as valid anymore I think that would be a great case to start collecting some data right to see you know how often is sink is attached compared to how often the TV is actually on and then then you could actually run some real calculations and know exactly how much is being wasted or not beyond compare that to you know whatever it is what kind of %HESITATION efficiency you lose right for somebody fumbling for the remote are looking for a touch panel that that that kind of has a real cost to yeah you mention experience and that that really has to be the priority in a space like that if you walk in and there’s any inconvenience people just tend to walk away and then if it’s there and it’s on and it works and it looks inviting that’s worth a little bit of a spend sometimes definitely and then cook more collaboration happens which is yeah there after yeah and for the power consumption inefficiencies and things like that you know if you weigh that versus utilization everything’s IP connected everything’s got to dash for kind of a program there’s a way to collect those metrics and and actually find out absolutely that that’s a part of this whole thing that I’m really interested in is is collecting real date on how systems are being used and now and you’re making decisions based on that I think that’s a someplace we could do a lot more as an industry it’s powerful then for sure so let’s let’s shift gears here yeah and dont talk about three D. printing sure I watched when you’re womanizer part part of it on three D. printing and sure sure seems like you have a lot to say on this subject so I got a few questions here but I I think I’ll just %HESITATION let you have added what what how do you %HESITATION well let’s let’s put a female top of it how do you how do you use you know how to three be printing applied to AV if at all sure are definitely does some the backstory is it was a personal hobby of mine and I mention that elaborate building that had pushed talk microphones everywhere we had an issue where students would push their laptop into the push to talk button so then the camera points directly at them it turns our Mike up in the mix and you know them being on Facebook or doing work email or whatever they’re doing interrupts the capture of the class then or shows that to the video conference at the far side so we we were looking for a way to protect those push to talk buttons and they’re kind of like a disk shaped thing that you can get from any direction we put kind of a crown shaped piece around them we looks like the crenellations of a chess rock that is kind of a protection ring that goes around those push to talk buttons and that’s decrease the number of occurrences from dozens of times per day to like once or twice every couple of weeks we’ve seen a huge huge reduction in the number of false triggers on those buttons because we three D. printed a little thing to make it a little harder to hit the button externally so that when the initial project that was like the justification of Hey maybe we can actually use this we’re actually lucky enough to be able to borrow a printer from a colleague in another department was moving in need a place to store that was better than a storage unit so we kind of chanced upon being able to access a device like that work with us since then we’ve made dozens and dozens of things my most recent project actually are you seen the the Logitech spotlight the new presentation remote okay it’s kind of a side note we’re on a tangent now but it’s just really cool in a room where you’ve got twenty screens or something it actually is software on the computer that highlights that area of the screen and is distributed ensuring a video call arts record and the capture or whatever you have it’s a lot more useful than pointing in dot of laser on one screen that students may or may not be looking at right anyway these are a chargeable so when we get a call that it’s out of batteries we can’t fix that people need to be able to recharge these so we’re making a doc that’s three D. printable in fits in a dust grommet and hopefully we can get people into the good habit of returning these to the dock to always be fully charged and then they’ll be less likely to walk away in people’s briefcases to so that that’s our latest project with printing but there’s been a dozen in the middle holding things up and racks making little clips to hold devices on brackets on nothing structural we’re not doing TV mounts or anything like that I mean you probably do this and designs all the time where it’s like man I I need this one little widget I swear I saw it but this one’s ninety degrees wrong and you you dig terminal annex catalog and then you go to a grand website and realize that there’s fourteen million products and you go to you know once you spend ten minutes looking for something I catalog if you can draw on CAD you might have that thing an hour later you know click print before you go to lunch you might be able to install the thing that you couldn’t find any supplier’s catalog when you get back all right so so you mention CAD there and that’s what I want to know about just sure I know it’s it can be huge subject but if you kinda just give me a brief overview of what the process is so you’re walking around you’re you’re looking all over the place you have all these ideas now because now you can make anything right yeah yeah so what what is the process like so cat is computer aided drafting drafting is %HESITATION what we all did on those plans will tables in high school with the ruling elaborate %HESITATION you know mechanized rulers over ninety degrees and basically our design process we’ll do what I like to call napkin CAD that’s when you’re at luncheon on the bar napkin with an ink pen that you borrowed from other waitress you’re you’re drawing your system design you’ve got the lines between boxes and and you know you’re you’re roughest sketch that you come back to the office with a lot of these start with napkin cat and then you can open up a programming with real tools that use basic shapes like squares and circles and triangles and drawing lines you make a representation of it and then you pull that two dimensional shape into a three dimensional one if you need to then you can make a drawing on the side of it to put in a recess or draw something out and to work slowly start to learn but you think of these objects that you want to design in their basic more fundamental shapes and then that’s how you construct them out of components that exist in that software so you cannot have building blocks in CAD that you could kind of these together and make it kinda like legos I guess there are some that I go back and like legos others are one in particular called tanker CAD and it’s also neat that its browser based you don’t need to install anything that was going on and you can drag and drop whatever shape you want you can combine them you can cut with them to put holes in things and there is a lego integration with that actually after you design something you can either turn it in the lego bricks or vice versa that company is is Autodesk who in my opinion at least is kind of leader of the industry right now they’ve got integrations where you can wiring channels and LEDs on battery clips and switches and things like that in it just automatically generates the shape that you need to three D. print from at all kinds of neat things so there’s there’s that building blocks kind of CAD there’s the clay sculpting kind of CAD where you end up with a a sphere and you can drag different tools on it to make organic shapes some people also three D. print from things like Photoshop you can create three D. objects and really well or full blown CAD where you’re doing what a designer would do an orbiting around in three D. and and you’ve got such powerful more professional tools there there’s a whole spectrum of what’s out there amazing so so once you have this design done in software yeah I I guess it’s just a file that gets uploaded to the machine yeah so it’s generally called an S. T. L. file about a thirty year old format that starting to show its age hopefully replace it with us some initiatives that have started as of late but you’ve got a wire frame then which you can think of kinda like how a computer graphics work in video games or house CG I works before they put your rendering farm to get high fast accounts and things like that you’ve got this shell of the shape and you put it into software that does what’s called slicing and that’s actually what generates the G. code in the machine code that a printer runs on and and the instructions to build that object and it it builds at one layer at a time I always tell people it’s kind of like making a loaf of bread one slice at a time does the bottom layer in the stack second layer on top and and successively you’ve got your shape so and what about the materials are there different kinds of materials or yeah so the most common material aren’t released recently most common as a B. S. plastic which chances are if you look around on your desk and there’s a hundred plastic things I bet should ninety eight and a half of them are a B. S. plastic other materials P. T. is what water bottles are made out of that’s %HESITATION polyethylene mixed you can print and nylons I said that a B. S. was recently the most popular I think today what’s the most popular materials one called the LA that saw the acronym for poly lactic acid it’s actually a vegetable starch plastic it’s a bio class so it’s a little bit more green it’s something that’s compostable and it’s got some properties that make it pretty forgiving for the average printer to use so fascinating the whole range but you can also get things that have carbon fiber chopped in %HESITATION you can get magnetic materials you can get conductive materials flexible things there’s a whole range of what’s out there and that’s just the printers that print with melted plastic there’s a couple different varieties that are different styles of machines on top of that wow so when does it make sense to start looking at this like obviously it’s something that is easy to get excited about so big it becomes a hobby for you then obviously just go for it right right like at one point %HESITATION does it become common place just to have a three D. printer in in an organization I’m not gonna say home yet but like in general mid to large size organization do you think that’s going to become commonplace so I I think especially in higher read a lot of people already have something on campus either your engineering department or science or art or even the libraries a lot of times we’ll have a maker space and and some kind of facilities what’s missing and I think that that key that you need before you get started is the inspiration you need that first project rethink man we really need this thing but it just doesn’t exist yet so that that inspiration would spark you saying well how can we make one and if you’ve got a printer on campus can probably go use it for a few Bucks and and make your thing and then you’re hooked it’s it’s technically called additive manufacturing but a lot of people have taken to calling it addictive manufacturing once you’ve started it just keeps going you get that mindset and %HESITATION you know if all you’ve got to hammer everything looks like a nail right there’s an awful lot of nails out there excellent excellent it’s a really cool I’ve got to make the time to look into that some day or at least get my kids turned onto it and now I see what they come up with sure sure next time there’s that thing let me know right well Jim it’s been a real pleasure talking to you %HESITATION going everywhere from the V. in user experience down to three D. printing this was a lot of fun it was thanks for having me again if anybody wants to get in touch with you sometime is there a is there a good way they cannot reach out to dance with or anything like that odd yeah please Sir honestly sending emails just fine my dresser Notre Dame’s in the directory can look up or a it’s J. Spence for at and T. for Notre Dame dot EDU alright Jim thanks for being on the show thank you eight Patrick here again thanks for listening to the show if you enjoyed this discussion if you liked what you’ve heard if you want to hear more discussions like this please go to iTunes leave a review subscribe to the show send me a comment get in touch with me somehow and let me know that you’re out there listening and that’ll motivate me shows get more so if you’re driving or whatever asks you re to set something in your calendar to give you a reminder to thanks a lot thanks for listening to software defined survival for transcripts and show notes going a software defined survival dot com
Justin Kennington has a background in hardware engineering, he spent some time working for Google and also as a technology manager for Crestron’s DigitalMedia products before moving on to Aptovision and creating the Software Defined Video over Ethernet Alliance, a.k.a. SDVoE.
SDVoE aims to create a standardized hardware and software platform for AV signal distribution.
Because it is software defined, it could have a lot of consequencens for the way we do things in AV.
this is a software defined survival where we talk to AV IT professionals and software developers to find out how to leverage software to reinvent ourselves and we do business we listen to their stories and ask for advice and tactics on how to survive and thrive in a software defined what today software defined survive Netflix’s in YouTube’s in the world all gone through the same transition of analog digital relying more on software is not a bad thing my name is Patrick Murray for everyone out there sitting behind a rack on their way to a job site or changed to a laptop welcome to software defined survival today’s guest has in background in hardware engineering he spent some time working for Google and also as a technology manager for Christians digital media products before moving on to Activision ends creating the software defined video over Ethernet alliance also known as STV away as the view we aims to create a standardized hardware and software platform for E. V. signal distribution because it is software defines it could also have a lot of consequences for the way we do things in AV so I’m really excited to talk to Justin Kennington about the future of software defined AV welcome to the show Justin hello thank you for having me excellent to have you on the show as one of the first guests I’m is there anything about that introduction that you’d care to correct or expand upon while I’m not nearly as impressive as you made it sound but I have no intention of correcting that nice a little bit of modesty goes a long way so AV you know it’s kind of this weird niche industry and %HESITATION nobody really grows up saying they want to work in navy there’s usually a story behind it so %HESITATION tell me what’s your story how did you wind up working in audio visual wow I don’t think I’ve ever answered that question on the record if you want to know the honest truth I was sitting in my living room in Mountain View California where I did he said work for Google as a hardware engineer I was about eleven beers into a case of course light and programming like writing this custom software stack to make my I pod control my home theater and I was bored and thinking about career he stuff and I was like what should I do next was like well I like this kind of like stuff I’m doing right here somebody would probably pay me to do this he would pay me to do this restaurant across from the pain to do this stuff so I’m like I don’t even know where the restaurant is right on and I started a website like restaurant I come home where is it Rockley New Jersey **** I was hoping for Sunnyvale right to the black tie and I look at the map I circuit pretty close to New York City I could deal with that and does so I called the guy who knew a guy and I said Hey when you when you talk to them over there telling you know a guy who works at Google and is thinking about coming to take a look at your shop and so as to be sure Google that’s important and those are served up the next day folks across from called me and said Hey we want to we want to talk to you had this new product line called digital media and they needed someone to take charge and run it also you know in in an interview on a cross country move later there I was in the world maybe was sort of a front row seat to the analog to digital transition digital media crow exactly and will blame it all on the silver bullet right on on the eleven course lights you know the one thing you will do is slow you down if you go so I remember when when DM first came out and like you said that was a big transition from from digital from analog to digital right a lot of talk about the analogs sunset and not write the first DM had had like three wires for every signal and it was a lot different than what HD base T. looks like today right just one cat cable but it was a really big change at the time it was actually an improvement you know you look at those three wires today kinda looks a little Frankenstein dish but if you take a step back to analog whose RGB HP and three is better than five three is better than five and even audio on top of that you could have up to seven cables and that’s kind of how I grew up in navy was %HESITATION you know stripping back Kovacs and crimping DNC’s on these connectors things that you just don’t deal with today at all so what were some of the challenges about those first steps with with digital media you know what was hard is is we didn’t know what we didn’t know %HESITATION you know question was in a great spot at that point because I mean they had analog video switches you know Big Five wire BNC high band with also points but what really known for it right question was very much known as a control company and it was extranjeros it was where the name auto patch on a patch and got picked up by a Max of that were sort of seen as the the video guys and some questions in a good spot to say look we think there’s digital video thing is going to be beating and and frankly we don’t have a lot to lose so let’s let’s give it a shot and so in the early days what we underestimated was just how much of a lack of understanding and knowledge there was out there in the design and installation community about digital video systems right we thought it was going to be easier for us and easier for them and it turned out to be so for those first couple years with three wires I’m talking in two thousand ten yeah there were a lot of of challenges in the it upset a lot of people right because they were frustrated you know installer frustrated and have to go back to the job fix this fix that early on we figured out that you know education was key to this and this and this is how the DMZ the digital media certification courses eat when we realize like all my god like we’ve got this new product line of course a new product line in a two new paradigm has has bugs and problems six of these people installing it just haven’t been given the opportunity to learn about this New World so DMC got created armor back in like two thousand eleven twelve when when the training it really gotten up on its feet we we show these great graphs that showed like in a number of DMC training people and you see this big you know increasing her and you overlay on that number of digital media support calls and you see this like huge fall off like the real like well education is hugely important so so educating the the customer base improving the product and then finally that moves from the the the original freeware approach HDAC once that became available you know simplified things and and next thing you know Crestron is is the leader in that matrix switching digital video space right the other guys who had such a vested interest you know in their analog stops didn’t make the jump I remember going to you know Infocom twenty ten income twenty eleven Infocom twenty twelve and every year being nervous like although you know extreme gonna happen this year AMXs gonna bring something perhaps real competition it’s gonna be tough gonna show up and it’s nothing you’re still talking analog you guys Sirius I’m in so so restaurant got such a big head start you know by bringing the right technology at the right time and being willing to just suffer the the you know the settlers get the error of their the arrows absolutely that’s what that was but then but then you’re the first one first one there and and that’s what is tablets Crestron as a real leader today and in that digital video distribution space definitely there’s still a they’re still seemingly way ahead of the pack us or good head start really it doesn’t go away too quickly into yeah really gives you a boost that lasts for a long time huge that so there are a few other things you mention that I want to circle back to obviously I didn’t think the biggest challenge would be education but it does make sense now that you say that but what I really like was that you use data to see if what you’re doing was working as you do that and the training aspects right so the number of certifications against that type of support calls that you were getting it really shows the power of data why don’t we do that more navy it’s well it’s hard it’s hard %HESITATION because good data is bigger data and it’s it’s often hard to find you know big data sets MTV you know individual companies you know integrators programming houses and things are so many of them are relatively small it’s hard to build up a solid data set that you can really make decisions based on %HESITATION you know Christ has a great advantages of having such a big reach that they can build that kind of data set %HESITATION in maybe we as an industry can find ways you know through through a mixer through the through organization and and in smaller groups smaller companies working together to start building up data sets right you know thinks it does that for their for their annual or semi annual like market trend analysis report but how to use that at at the smaller level is is a great question and it’s it’s I think it just needs focus needs people to realize that it good data is highly valuable is the best way to make decisions on enemy willing to put in the time and effort to do it right sometimes it can be hard when you’re in a crisis situation or a high pressure situation and and and you need to make decisions quickly it can be hard to say you know what let’s take a step back let’s take a breath let’s gather information and analyze it before we react just just that sort of emotional %HESITATION challenge can be what holds us back from from data driven decisions yeah definitely great great inside %HESITATION I’d like to retire back to you know the human factor %HESITATION and that need for the need for speed and to make quick decisions and %HESITATION data needs time to develop before becomes usable so let’s switch gears and talk about is the V. only what does software defined mean to you it’s it’s the way the world works today and what we’re trying to do with S. EBOV is is show the AV industry that that’s the way the world works and show the AV industry how what I mean is you know today when you when you decide what smartphone you want to buy rain you’re you’re probably an iPhone diary entry rate that’s not about heart that’s about a software plus it’s about the experience that the software creates and how it makes you feel it’s about the applications that are built on top of those platforms and which ones are most important to you and then once we get on down into it sure like if I decide I don’t want my phone I need to decide do I want to eat or an axe or whatever I want to enjoy it I maybe I wanna Samsung or LG here what have you but the first decision you make is what software platform appeals to you no that’s true in the in the enterprise I. T. world software is everything there rate if your I. T. house like you might be everybody in your enterprise runs windows everybody in your enterprise runs mackel straight and you might you might have a world where where route you know this year the I. T. director gets a good deal for H. P. and decides this year were buying HP products and we buy a bunch of computers and laptops network switches but then a year and a half two years from now we need to refresh you need some new items and it turns out del is having a sales we sell you know we’re gonna buy a bunch of dell’s today and nobody thinks about %HESITATION well then that’s fine by some double let’s throw away all the leech P. stuff in replace everything now because the hardware is less interesting the hardware is truly interoperable what matters is the software and so we’re going to drive to a world where IT it were easy works a lot more like that IT model right we’re software is what drives the decision making more software is what creates the experience and more hardware is a a necessary component but a secondary part of the decision making process thanks for that I really like the way you are you sum that up with a different types of of computer models so when when software is the first decision you make then you then you just basically have a lot more flexibility and agility with with the hardware decisions that of course you’ll need to make right the software does need to run somewhere I I say yeah it’s some somewhere electrons need to wiggle exactly even if it is in the cloud right there’s hardware in the class exactly right exact well last night that was my Google background right I was in the platforms group we build good luck as bills the data centers right if you’ve never had the experience of of being in a warehouse with seventy five thousand computers while I I recommend it the first time I walked into one I remember the guy I was with said welcome to the point where we turn electrons into money nice like that’s it isn’t it that’s the thing here fascinating they must have some cooling bill %HESITATION actually Google’s good one of Google’s main insights in the early days of of how data centers are constructed today was to cut down on cooling costs immensely it turns out we were wasting a lot of energy keeping computers cooler than they need to be so modern a modern data center headed by Google now fifteen years ago is like eighty eighty two degrees Fahrenheit instead of like the sixty five degrees they used to be held that really is that because the technology has changed or is it just we were over doing it back then I I you know I’m not the expert on that history I don’t think there’s any like fundamental technology change in terms of of how they are trying to handle it it’s been about that managing this concept of a hot Islander kuliah yeah she higher away from the cold air right so actually if I’m trying to just to describe this without pictures but imagine that the area your standing in front of computers is sort of the cool out now that still eighty eighty two degrees %HESITATION ate my international friends forgive me I’m I’m speaking Fahrenheit so it but that air is getting sucked through the computers into this chamber behind them that’s now hotter because there’s been heated up by the by the sea and and it’s only a matter of the gets sucked out of the building through the air handlers to whatever mechanism is cool right and sometimes the mechanism is Hey let’s let’s only build datacenters words really cold outside is it used exhaust that heat and then draw in cooler from the outside and and not have any sort of air conditioning the building yeah modern modern data centers are all about energy management or is S. as is as I was taught when I was there were thinking about queries per joule that’s our that’s our metric here how about that all right yeah you get more yields of out of the electrons the cool where they are and anyone who’s electrons and more money than the more money fascinating modern day farming so anybody who’s sitting behind a rack and had a HVAC duct blowing in their faces they were trying to our things up will will appreciate that site you will meet your your data centers built wrong yeah exactly all right I’ll have to go back to that job that was a long time ago so do you need to take that no no no no no okay so back to STV we why is there no a this or do you have a place in STV away always because I’m a I’m a video guy and and neglectful of that question from a marketing perspective but but let’s be clear that the the the software defined video everything that platform absolutely considers audio from Handal stereo audio multi channel audio down mix between the two can send audio independently from video we even have building on the platform Aurora multi media who have taken the STB elite platform and all they can do but then added on for example Dante devices to their hardware so now the the STB a lead part of their platform can interact with feet Dante hardware in in the broader parts of some AB system where this is all so yes of course audio as well as control are significant and important parts of this all right so you talked a bit about what why is the V. only exists I’m curious about that time right before the alliance got started what what were your real main motivations and concerns about about making this leap the the challenge that we face is you know we recognize that that AV over IP hasn’t as a category as a general approach %HESITATION is obviously the next important step for our industry and yet everyone out there especially today everyone out there has some kind of product to meet that challenge to meet that new paradigm but there’s no concept for anyone manufacture of having these these pieces fit together and and work together intelligently right arm you know it has to be assigned Kotor works with SCSI decoder and and that’s it %HESITATION and and back to my I. T. example that’s just not the way of the world right can you imagine if if your HP laptop couldn’t send an email to your dell laptop it’s makes insurance it’s a ridiculous question right arm and yet and yet that’s how we’re okay with that in AV it seems but that’s not okay alone and so and so the real impetus for us the VLT is about %HESITATION trying to build a standard approach to how we do AB override Pete also that the hardware can become interoperable with one another so that in our own Aurora box can talk to Izzie box just like an H. P. box can talk to a dell box all because only once you solve that inter operability problem can you then have the concept although other software platform if if if android phones didn’t talk to I fold it would be a very different world than what we have today is wouldn’t be successful product because people have preferences right somebody once an application works one way me once an application works another way on him by building instead of building products like like an SBS I request from the acts or a or a just and power instead of building products we build a platform we thought that we could really help gives the AV industry the tools needed to sort of grow up rate and and to live in this world where user experience is is at the forefront of what we do all the time and to create the tools needed so that software engineers programmers and can build the applications that the users demand without being without having to also consider at the same time what hardware do I need to have yeah so I’ve been having a lot of great conversations lately and it seems like a navy were really just a custom to selecting the box first selecting a hardware first and you mentioned user experience and of course everybody knows that’s where the where they should be starting and %HESITATION but we start with the box first possibly because there is no other there’s no standards out there really to do this sort of things ends what you’re talking about is building a platform where you can have the user experience come first and and pick and choose the hardware that you’re working on do you think that kind of flexibility and agility obviously you you believe that will be good for the industry overall but for people %HESITATION integrators and programmers working in AV what kind of effect do you think that could have on their business will they need to change their business model at all obviously will still be selling hardware but but there’s gonna be some kind of change that affects our our day to day I think it it just gives new opportunities more than anything right it doesn’t it doesn’t take much away from what we do today the fact is as we set electrons need somewhere to wiggle right so so even if the decision making changes at some point we need to buy some hardware we need to install some hardware we need to plug it in right now maybe if we can standardize well on some of that plugging it in part comes a little smoother a little easier all but someone still has to do it when it comes to programming systems up there are always going to be customers who need and demand you know specific customized solutions for their application right I want my carpentry work exactly this way and so programmer can continue to serve that calling it the way they always happen again meaning STV we might make that a little bit easier because if if we get to the world where estudio is is as ubiquitous as we plan then that then that program were coming in to customize something for an end user is customizing on a platform that they’ve been well versed in are well familiar with probably already built some libraries of their own so it’s it’s easier to come in and tweak what they already have and start from scratch in the new opportunity I think is is once you build up when it comes more feasible for software programmers Evey programmers and engineers to to identify certain types of applications that are common in start to build those and and sell them even more generically %HESITATION again just like software works in the in nineteen right like if I if I want a platform for or having an audio video conference like run right now I can go build soon charge people money to use it because enough people want that application right if if if we have a solid and ubiquitous platform of the developers can feel comfortable that that there that they were custom needs can always be mad but that the more generic problems that they need to solve the don’t have to solve over and over again they can solve them once and then and then commercially offer that solution because the platform that makes it possible is available everywhere so it sounds like a STV OP apps that’s exactly the world I would love to see right I think were it’s gonna take some time to get there right there’s a lot of transition we have to get your we’re still as an industry transitioning away from the matrix which right not to rest easier we offer performance that’s unique in a V. over IP world because only has the theory actually replicates the performance of the matrix which there’s no latency compromise is no image quality compromise other other radio over IP solutions are about Haiti I’ll give you some great flexibility some good scalability but you’re gonna have to pay for that in latency and quality and that’s fine as a short term solution but as the only actually replaces the matrix which so we’re we’re getting through that transition as an industry %HESITATION then once we really stabilized on TV over IP as how we do things it’s time to start really changing those mines and showing people the value of as opposed to the value of individual products but absolutely I will I will know that the alliance has succeeded completely when when one one day there’s an STD apps store and anybody who has a good idea for a piece of the application right that created and sell or make a business well obviously given the name of this podcast you know that I’m on board with that too but %HESITATION I’ve been using software defines control for a few years now and by that I mean controlling devices directly from an iPad we’re using a cheap processor like a raspberry pi for control and all of it technically works great there’s absolutely no issues with it technically reliability you can I mean raspberry pi’s Aline Xbox so even security wise it’s it’s not an issue but there is a ton of resistance to the solutions sure and not from any user’s state really don’t care as long as things %HESITATION work as they expect then they’re fine with it but integrators and consultants are kind of quick to call when I’m doing a science project so why do you think there’s so much resistance to software based solutions I think it’s just in its its its history and its workings what’s easy and it’s again that lack of education that’s what the alliance has to go that’s about all we have to go fight is to teach and show people %HESITATION that when the IT industry became the identity industry everything was okay right relying more on software is not a bad thing and in that moving away from this older paradigm of the hardware defining the application actually as real benefits for system designers and for system installers it makes their job simpler it makes our job a repeatable and it allows them to have more bandwidth and capability to be able to take on more work in to be able to deliver better suited as sort of more custom tailored experience to those users there there are there a lot of focus a little more on each of their customers user experience as they focus less on the the raw details of this boxer that box which is you know that’s something that that some people love to do it’s a world that they were moving away from and and that move is inevitable so it’s it’s it’s our job as an alliance show people how they can not only survive in this New World but strive and take their business to new places that are just as interesting and justice profitable or more so than the old way so what do you think the technology is kind of clear but what do you think like it from a business perspective what do you think about the model will look like in say five or ten years you know that’s that’s hard to say because we’re enabling a lot of new and different approaches right ATV as a services is an idea that started to see kicked around places and that becomes more possible once we have a handful of the right platforms available it’s hard for me to predict that will be all the way there in five years up but I think we will be in a world where software much more and more is is is the key selling point for any system right user experience and software that drives it I I think that’s just inevitable because because those two resistant frankly will be will be taken over by those who embrace it and and get to use this as more flexible more responsive business approach to satisfy the customers that are being satisfied by those who stick to a up your hardware world yeah it’s some I’m on board with that but it’s it’s kind of hard to believe when when everything is still kind of moving so slowly and and there’s a lot of the old ways of doing things just don’t seem to change at all but %HESITATION as they say things happen slowly and then very quickly that’s it said well we’ll look back and see how my goodness I mean it’s like I guess a member of the pioneers take the Arabs yeah and that’s and that’s where we are right now we’ve got to keep driving this forward right we’re gonna find the like minded individuals the folks everybody that’s a member of the SDP alliance guys like yourself who are really pushing this message of %HESITATION software defined controlled software defined experience right we’ve all just got to find ways to work together to show people the benefits of this and then one day we’re gonna look back and say wow I can’t believe that anybody ever did this a different way yeah there are some gifts is anybody is anybody looking back at wistfully at their analog video switches today I don’t think so now that they’re looking for ways to get rid of them so I I know that you’re a little pressed for time and just got a two more questions for you would you care to share any plans for the future that they may have for the alliance or anything else what we have just announced at I MC and and we’re launching at the end of this month officially is the the STB only partner consultant program which is a program it’s it’s game to consultants but also says system designers generally you know even those who work for integrators or is independent designers and the way this program works is you can come to the STB we dot org website %HESITATION get a little bit of we put together a nice five module reading curriculum out about an hour hour and fifteen minutes worth of material followed by a you know a quiz on what you’ve learned and once you pass that quiz you’re grounded status as an amnesty deal we partner and that really says that you know you you’ve achieved some level of education understanding about what AV over IP really needs but the STB alone and that you’re someone who can be counted on entrusted to design an STD we based system from any of the member manufactured right we have thirty five members today most of whom are building encoder and decoder devices on the spot you’ll be you’ll be trying to design with any of those products are and and then we’ll list you publicly as you know someone who can be counted on to build a high quality design on the system so that’s something to look for you can go to escape the only daughter works to sign up to to get the notification as soon as the curriculum is available this month all right is it is it out yet is available yet it is not available right now we’re on the needles to see %HESITATION Steven got right we’ve got it in in beta right now to a couple of a of test Guinea pigs just to make sure that the curriculum you know comes together in a cohesive way and then we’ll be launching in the next days excellent looking forward to that do you have any advice or tips for someone who may have a new approach or solution whether be software based or otherwise and is trying to find an audience for it I think so I think my main messages is stick with it right look at what’s going on in in all the industries that surround us all the other electronics and communication industries right telco IDE of video distribution through the at home right now flexes and you tubes in the world all gone through the same transition of analog to digital type pizza platform what we’re all trying to do here is is only accelerate the inevitable we’re not we’re not actually trying to create something that might not happen so just stick with it are and and she she could believe that this is where the industry has had it and that all we have to do is is create the right tools and and educate people right that’s a studio ease goals around us offer education of come come communicate with us we have ways you want to work with us about that and and and let’s just all work to drive this transition together because it is going to happen thanks Justin that’s just the kind of motivation that I need because it is hard yeah yeah well eating anything worth doing is right out there you go so if anyone would like to get in touch with you how would they go about doing that you can reach me at Jake can internet as the VOA dot org %HESITATION but I must recommend you check out the website you can read a little bit about the technology and the platform and STV OP dot org you can sign up for the newsletter and kept up to date on all of our latest goings on anybody on the newsletter list of course get an announcement as soon as that new training curriculum excellent Justin thank you so much for being on the show you gotta Patrick good luck with the new program thanks take care eight Patrick thanks for listening to the show if you enjoyed this discussion if you liked what you’ve heard if you want to hear more discussions like this please go to I tunes leader if you to the show get in touch with me somehow and let me know that you’re out there listening and that’ll motivate me to keep doing these shows get mad so if you’re driving or whatever said something in your calendar to give you a reminder to go to I tunes thanks for listening to software defined survival for transcripts and show notes go to software defined survival
Tim Albright is arguably the most successful podcaster in AV.
He started his career in radio, and somehow wound up becoming and AV consultant.
He’s also worked as a control systems programmer and university technology manager before founding AVNation.
AVNation is a network of AV professionals whose goal is to further the AV industry through education and knowledge. They do that through blog posts and covering industry events and they are most well known for podcasting.
Their flagship podcast, AVWeek, was first recorded in 2011 and provides a weekly overview of the AV industry.
Over the years they have launched several other podcasts like ResiWeek, EdTech and my personal favourite, A State Of Control.
This transcription was created with IBM Watson’s Speech To Text service. Computers aren’t perfect. Please keep that in mind when reading the transcript.
Pat: Greetings everyone in AV lands my name is Patrick Murray and welcome to software defined survival, where we interview the people and companies in AV that you software to re invent themselves and the way they do business. We listen to their stories and asks for as for tactics and device on how to survive and even thrive in this software defines world.
I’m excited about our first guest on the show he is arguably the most successful podcaster in AV and before you run away saying what the heck does podcasting have to do with software, I kind of see podcasting and blogging as software defined media. Right? That the podcasts and the blogs and things like that, they don’t care where you are and they don’t care how you consume it. They don’t care what time it is like a radio show and things like that so this is definitely a software defined solution and that’s why I’m excited to have this guest.
He started his career in radio and somehow wound up becoming an AV consultant I’ll have to ask how that happens and he also worked as a control system programmer and university technology manager before founding easy nation alienation is a network of AV professionals whose goal is to provide to further the AV industry through education and knowledge something that is near and dear to my heart and their flagship podcast TV week was first recorded in two thousand and eleven and it provides a weekly overview of the AV industry if you’re in a movie you should definitely check out a few weeks it’s a great way to get a a download of what’s going on in the industry.
Now over the years they launched several other podcasts like crazy week ed tech and my personal favorite state of control if your navy programmer definitely check out a state of control well ladies and gentlemen Tim Albright.
Tim: Yeah, way too flowery.
Pat: Welcome to the show Tim. Is there anything about that introduction that you’d like to add or expand upon?
Tim: No you don’t need me on the show now! Yeah yeah I’m good.
Tim: How are you doing?
Pat: Yeah I’m good I’m good.
Tim: I’m excited for this dude.
Pat: Thank you I appreciate that. I got a couple questions lined up here. We could also let this meander and go wherever it takes us.
Tim: It probably will.
Pat: It probably will. So I know you have kids I have a couple kids myself and one thing you’ll never hear a child say is when I grow up I want to be in AV. At least, I haven’t heard that one yet.
So there’s usually a story behind how people wind up in this industry so tell us how did you get started in AV?
Tim: Why are you mention my broadcast and my broadcast background and I was working for radio stations and Lois and must show my my my wife and I Michelle had had had our first child and it was not conducive to having a child was not conducive to being on morning radio which is what I was because you know you get up at stupid o’clock in the morning and you go to bed at you know really early at night and just wasn’t conducive for that and so I was starting to look around and the armada the college that I had had gone to school to school at was needing what they described as a in an engineer and somebody to take care of some projector installs once a month once a year and I was annoyed that day I’m, I’m somewhat technical and somewhat you know I can do that and I was already teaching already a production for them and so I was like sure I can do this and so they they they hired me on and what turned in what what started out as being do a couple of projector installs a year turned into holy cow we have no money and we have to upgrade all of these rooms and we have to adjust the programming in these rooms and we have to learn how to properly designed these these rooms so I quickly found myself taking Infocom classes and taking classes from various manufacturers and getting certified to program Sir your fax first and so I buy it we ended up having our own little small band of of designers and installers for our little college I mean we had a hundred ninety rooms which is not it’s not small but it’s not it’s not the size of let’s say young university of Illinois which is also listed above out for me but it was it was significant for us and so that got me only involved in AV almost from the get go. I mea, I went to my very first Infocomm shortly after starting there because of the lack of knowledge that I had and I need to get ramped up on so that’s how I got involved was you need to do a career change and of finding myself you know in the ceiling trying to put together a five wire BNC and and getting a multi meter out to figure out why the heck my yellow look weird.
Pat: Exactly switching that the black and white wires.
Tim: Well, I started making cables with all kinds of short so that’s why I that’s what I used to multi meter is yeah every yeah eventually got better at it .
Pat : So you mentioned your first visit to Infocomm do you remember what your first impressions were kind of walking into that hall?
Tim: Holy crap, are you kidding me? I fell in love I honestly it well it wasn’t the work and it was in the I love the work it was it was good work and I I still I still control is still my favorite part of of a B. and and probably always will be , but when I walked in the show floor this is this is back in the mid to late two thousands arm so wasn’t the size it is now I was absolutely flabbergasted me, I had never been to anything like that like it before my life I’d never to the C. S. as as a as a journalist I’d been to a number of junk it’s a movie junkets where they fight about interview people in this up now and go see movies and those are smaller by by a large margin but I never been to any be a detriment to CS and so this is my first trade show experience and I walked in the show for and I’m just awestruck and I’m like I don’t want to do anything else I simply don’t want to do anything else and I remember walking around and talking to folks and you know that was when I got to meet a lot of folks that I still you know consider friends today I mean I it was when when I will I met body mind his name is Kevin who happens to work for Crestron but you know met him there and I met them for the folks that just to kind of took me under their wing and said okay here’s this here’s as dumb kid that does not anything let’s, let’s show him a thing or two.
Pat: Yeah there’s nothing like having a mentor in those first years to know an explain things that are that are now probably totally obvious to you.
Tim: And obsolete. Just for the record.
Pat: Well, Yeah, RGBHV byebye.
Pat: So everybody in AV usually has a at least one nightmare project under their belt. Let’s not talk about that. Maybe you could tell me about your most rewarding AV projects and what made it special for you?
Tim: Oh wow, see that one is harder. I can tell you can tell you my nightmare story off the top of my head.
So this is not one that I specifically did but I was in charge of I mention the fact that I work for college and the largest the largest construction project that we were a part of the college I where I went to over the cards that I’ve I worked at was a small community college and it was it was bigger than what it should have been. It’s it’s it has delusions of grandeur at time and it’s a good thing right I’m not I’m not saying that as a negative I’m saying that they have delusions of grandeur and all the times they meet those right so this is a community college who reaches beyond what the normal community college to play does they wanted to do a research center right this organization called script switches scripts ocean Oceana ocean out ripple oceanography is that right oceanic scripts motioning research center are they study the ocean well I live in Illinois, I live in southwest Illinois just outside of Saint Louis. We live on the Mississippi, the biggest outside of the Amazon the biggest of fresh water longest waterway in the in the North America there’s nothing like that. Right there’s nothing and so they wanted to develop a research center I community college, building a research center for the for the rivers.
And where Alton is which is the whole time I live and it actually happens to be right at the confluence between the Illinois Mississippi and the Missouri rivers so not only are you on the biggest river in North America you’re also at this very unique place between where all these three rivers come togther, right.
So that’s kind of the backstory here, they have this this grand idea are they partner with a bunch of people I know like we’re gonna build this, right? It is a platinum level or gold level LEED certified building, right. I think when they started out they were going platinum and I think eventually they got gold. And we were tasked with doing all the AV in this research facility. Now there have been a couple other projects where they they built this this four story twenty million dollar research facility a year or two earlier and we spec’d out right.
That was you’re talking about thirty or forty rooms I think , six lecture halls that was subbed out we helped with the design and we we assisted with some of the direction but we did not do that. We did this research facility and at the end of the day when we had the grand opening and and this that and the other, you walk through and everything’s working and everything’s exactly you know what kind of the way you envisioned it as a designer so it was the first project as as a AV person as an A. V. professional, as a programmer, as a designer, as an installer you could sit back and go: „yeah we did that and it freaking rocks“.
Pat: Nice! It does happen once in awhile. Has it ever happened again?
Tim: No, well like that, I mean we’ve had a couple others while we were there like I said we were there and had the AV because we had to.
Pat: Is that why you had that kind of success with it, because yeah because the control you have over the projects?
Tim: Yes,absolutely! No it was one of these things where we were actually brought in early enough and every AV person in the world will tell you, the earlier we can get brought in the more successful going to half and we were able to do things like you know have conversations about you know the network and have conversations and this is early on with video over IP and integrating we used a,video conferencing system it was like the second or third video conferencing system college never had. We had two of them in this building because they were visiting scientists from all over the world who had their own water ways that they were concerned with they would come to this resurfaced research facility, because it was one of a kind of I believe it still as it was, one of a kind and so you had folks from China on you had folks from our member Argentina and Venezuela coming here. And so they needed to talk to their compatriots in a secure manner so we had we were tasked with creating a secure BTC system and something that was easy for them to use and understand and you know this was back way before anybody considered you know one button usability we had a one button system where they all they had to do was you know come in and and we were working with the the scheduling software and they can hit a button and they were connected to their people. If it was the right time and the right schedule.
Pat: Very nice. There’s a few things I want to impact there. Like somebody told me recently when a professor in a university for example. When they have a hard time with this technology, it kind of takes away from their credentials a bit. Right, if if they’re like supposed to be this really smart person and they’re fumbling around with the touch panel, it it kind of takes away from the authority that they have. So something like a one touch button, you know, where anybody could really use it, then they can get on with their own job.
Tim: So, so I have a story about that. I have over the years worked with a couple integrators in Saint Louis. I still do work for one group. Just because I’ve known him for twenty years and they’re good friends. One of the first times I was on a significant ,college and university in Saint Louis .I’m not gonna say which one. We were replacing a touchpanel and we get there and this touchpanel is concaved,right and this is an old, if you’re familiar with the old Crestron quick media systems, it was a seventeen inch quick media touch panel, so this was not a cheap device to replace. It was somewhere between fifteen and twenty grants and the the entire center of it is concave and I’m like „what in the world happened to this?“
Pat: I think, I know what happened.
Tim: There’s this professor, who has like fifteen doctorates, probably like four or five, but still has a number of doctorates and is the first time using the system and just like any other good programmer you put in a cool down screen, when you’re using a projector, especially back then right.
Tim: And he said, how dare this thing tell me to wait two minutes so I can restart the system. And put his fist through it.
Pat: Wow, he actually punched the touch panel.
Tim: No, no he wailed on the touchpanel, to the point where it was busted.
Pat: Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of people listening to this, or I hope there are. Thant wanted to do that themselves once or twice.
Tim: Oh, I’m certain.
Pat: I know a guy, who threw his laptop across the room once, programmer.
Tim: Laptop? I’ve done that too.
Pat: Yeah? I always wanted to, never had the guts to do it. I wanted to believe it, but never had the guts to actually do it. So the other thing I wanted to talk about on that story was. I always like it, because a lot of times we do these projects and we go away and we never see how the rooms are used and usually it’s some generic thing that you know we never really can appreciate at all. So I like the fact that you actually knew about people using the room and how they’re using it. Like scientists coming together from all over the world and actually using your technology to collaborate and really produce results. That’s something I think we don’t get to see often enough.
Tim: Well especially folks like you, right. And you know folks, who are either independent programmers right. You guys are the mercenaries of the industry you get called in or subbed out and you don’t. Alright, you go in and you know, I’ve talked about this before, you’re kind of unique, because you’re in Germany, you get to go around to different parts, different countries in you Amsterdam and done jobs. I’ve done jobs, not a whole lot of outside of Saint Louis but a couple of size and Louis. And you’re right, if you are in this position, you’re never going to go back to that job, hopefully. As long as everything worked correctly and see how they use it. Now being a tech manager, if you are a tech manager, yes, you get that you get that that ability you get that opportunity to do it on two different levels. First of all, if you’re decent, if you are a tech manager worth their salt, you should at least be there or be available for folks especially new an incoming faculty to use your systems. Now you and I both know, that if you have to have instructions on how to use a touch panel the new done a poor job of designing the touch panel.
But there are people with five doctor too that can’t turn on a light switch successfully. Sometimes.
Pat: They’ve got their minds on other things.
Tim: Absolutely they do. So we actually developed a number of modules because we still had we’re still going from one control system to another control system even when I left, because that we have had with at one standard we’re moving to another so we had about three different, types of of control systems are at our college, so we had different models we had recorded them in and let met what made them available to new incoming faculty so I can get used to it right. If you’re in this building with this is the type of system we have in this building this is how you access your but this building it’s just a bunch of you know it’s a it’s a wall plate with a couple buttons this is how you do you you access it. And so, you would still be able to go and and and and walk through and and kind of be available the first couple weeks of of classes, to make sure that everything kind of works and and kind of comes off without a hitch.
Pat: Very nice. Lets a shift gears for a minute and talk about AV Nation. Where did the…
Tim: Why? I’m not very serious Patrick, you should know by now.
Pat: Yeah I’m good I’m getting that, so I’ll try to tone it down a little bit.
Tim: No, you’re fine
Pat: It’s my first podcast , give me a break, I’ll loosen up.
Tim: I have three hundred forty one AV weeks and I am not gonna count the other ones, so.
Pat: Nice, so where the original idea come from?
Tim: Oh Lord, so you mentioned very very nicely my broadcast background. I was weaned and kind of developed as a broadcast journalist at the the preeminent news talk stations at Lewis called KMOX. I had a job before I ever left college there and so I was able to rub shoulders with and learn from some of the best in the business it was it was owned by CBS at the time and so we were trained in the CBS way of of how to gather news. And said that that is my pedigree when it comes to the broadcast journalists part. And when I got involved in the AV industry and fell in love with it, that kind of put that down for a while I still taught on radio production in audio production, but actually since 2006, I was teaching students how to podcast I wasn’t doing it myself, but I I saw it as an opportunity for up and coming broadcasters to cut their teeth and and and kind of stretch their legs and stretch their wings and see what’s possible on in the realm of audio. And in 2005/2006 I was turned on to this week in tech by Leo Laporte. It’s the twit network, yeah he has several podcasts, he’s probably the most successful podcaster period. And possibly Adam Corolla has passed him at this point from a network standpoint I would say that Leo was probably up there. And so listening to that on a weekly basis, he does tech in general, right, so he does you know cell phones, computers and switches and all kind of stuff.
Tim: Everything. And he also does for two hours a week which is way more than than I can I can do.
So I was looking for something, right and, so there were a couple of people who have who have were already doing something not what I was looking for but they were doing something Essien at the time and that’s when I see an atomic medications was doing a monthly video podcast are where they would bring people into a studio and they would talk about a specific project, right. So it was kind of white paper, a video version of a white paper.
Tim: Wasn’t what I was looking for. What I was looking for the twit version of the the AV version of twit, right.
I want the news that I wanted it in a succinct way and I want it on a weekly basis. Nobody had it.
Tim: Right and I don’t know that anybody’s still does .
Pat: Maybe in prints, but certainly not weekly, right.
Tim: But not weekly, right. And so on it’s one of these things where necessity breeds invention I didn’t have what I wanted and so I made it.
Pat: Scratch your own itch.
Tim: Yeah, I mean I could see again I’m an old radio guy in and I’ve been in television as well and and I think that that medium has a lot to offer people. You get to learn people’s voices and I don’t mean that any any in the literal sense I mean, folks understand that I am as much, a lover of this industry, as I am not overly serious about it.
And I was I don’t take ourselves too seriously I’ve made the comment both on the air off the year it’s our team and other people. If the projector doesn’t work no one is going to die, right. You know it’s not life and death and you have to understand kind of where your your places in the world. We make experiences. And I’m I’m gonna totally steal this line here, we make great experiences and our job as as a nation is kind of what we’ve developed into and what we were allies and and me still learning how to be a businessman, because I’m a producer that’s my pedigree is, we speak directly to the integrators on a weekly basis, right. Way back when it when I was a radio we had, you will be called an avatar with this is the person that we’re talking to. My avatar for AV nation specifically for a AV week are the folks the integrators who are are driving into their office on Monday morning: Why is it that they need to know for that week to be successful? Right? And that question has driven, darn near everything that we’ve done. It’s driven the deep dive into the other, what I’ll call niche podcast that we do on a monthly basis and that includes the state of control which is controlled automation that includes AV. social which is shell social media and marketing. Which is kind of developed into more marketing and social media because boxing in under understand how to talk to their clients, right. It drove a show actually from one of our underwriters, to look at the on the IT in A. V. and how they each influence each other. It drove a show that I developed probably a year ago with a consulting firm, called on the eighty profession. And that looks at you know ways to make your business better. Has nothing to do with the with the actual technology of AV, but it is about how to be better at your business. You know we’ve done everything from interview consultants who will help you with your business to interview business authors, on how to get consumer consumers. I’d just interviewed a guy who I was turned on to by a buddy of mine that I’ve developed a relationship with the Name Ian Altman. Ian is a fanstastic sales person to bend tastic sales consulting. He’s spoken of a Bacchae spoke in other places you spoke with PSNI and super summit. Well, Ian turned me on this other guy by the name of Markus Sheridan. He is probably one of the best experts that I’ve ever read, when it comes to content marketing, he turned a like this closed bankrupt, swimming pool company in the middle of the recession, he turned around with about a year and a half through content marketing. And reading his story and reading his take on it, is fascinating and it’s incredibly important to people in the A. V. industry. Title of his book is: „They asky you answer.“ It’s very simple.
Tim: Your clients are going to ask you questions. Probably to the sales people, when they ask you questions, you answer it, in a not only obviously you know, Patrick is my client even assuming email say „Hey what about this and what what what’s what’s the steel with with HDMI to that on? How ist his gonna affect us?“ Okay, well first of all: Into the question to the client directly right now this is going to how it’s going to do it this is this is what it’s doing but then you send it to your marketing people and say „Hey we have a question, because, an old rule of thumb in broadcasting is that, between five and ten percent of your audience will ever ever contact you ever, I don’t care if you’re given a million million dollars will between five and ten percent of your of your audience will ever call and we’ll ever email you ever contact you same is true in the business world. Between five and ten percent of your clients will ever ask you a question that is meaningful. You know, how they’re going to be affected you take those nuggets, because I will guarantee you, that at least, twenty of the twenty other clients have the exact same question, they’re just not gonna ask you.
Tim: Or potential clients may have that same question- they are not gonna ask you.
Tim: But if you have this piece of content over here, right and they’re searching how will HDMI two do affect me?
Boom you have an article. Boom you have a video whatever, so it’s stuff like this that has driven our content to say you know how it how can we best help integrators and in all honesty also tech managers do their job better and be more successful.
Pat: Great stuff. I mean really does a lot of stuff to tackle their. How do you know what to write? That’s something I always come up against, because of course this idea of putting content out there, that’s all people find you. It’s basically SEO, which sounds a little fishy, if you ask me, but if you are just writing stuff that people want to know about and they do find you, nothing is better than that. And I know what you mean like I ask, I have my online courses and I ask students all the time. „Please tell me what’s wrong?“ and they never answer me. It’s like pulling teeth getting any kind of feedback- out of anybody. And blog posting it takes a lot of time. It’s really time consuming. It’s a lot of fun, because it really makes you dig deep into a subject and become more knowledgeable about it and really start to look at it from different angles that you might not have considered, but again that time investment how do you decide what to write about.
Tim: So we’ve done a couple different things. First of all we started taking our shows and regardless of the show there’s going to be at least two or three different topics on each episode and and we’ve started pulling and culling information from there. But me personally, my personal blog it’s what I’m interested in, right. It’s what’s hit me are within the last week or two weeks and right now this week I am formulating and doing some research for a blog about how the terrorists are going to impact the industry in North America large adversely beyond North America in the US our current president has put tariffs on steel, well let’s not be silly a lot of our products are made with with feel , you know what the rack rack is a big giant piece of steel arm based metal and so I’m trying to do some research right now, because that to me is interesting and that’s a question that nobody’s asked yet. Is how are the how are the policies of not just this president every president, impacting our industry you know you look at what is it Brazil is one of the biggest exporters to us of steel. Guess what, they are also one of the biggest importer of what they are one of the biggest importers of US Cole. To make this deal.
Tim: So you know, you’re looking at stuff like this going, okay you know and at the end of the day whether it’s you know Atlas or it’s Middle Atlantic or its Chief and I’m just naming three you’ve got so many other people sure like a bank, that use steel every single day. And our listeners are users are clients or customers, how are they going to be impacted not today not tomorrow because they’ve already got a warehouse full of steel, but in six months or a year and then how do they decide whether or not to pass that shards alone? You know the first question is is there going to be an increase right. That’s the number one question as you know this Atlas I eat is atlas and their racks had to they have to increase the price of middle when it comes to increase their price and if the question is yes it’s almost like programming right, if yes then what’s right and then you then the manufacturer has to make a decision without a past that that charge along most the time they have to, their business, they have to truck bass along the their their cost increases. And then okay so your you know H. B. can occasions are here city Iowa St Louis your rack price just went up ten percent okay you’ve designed a system you have a spec out will suddenly you’re losing ten points right so how did you recoup that cost and hopefully you haven’t done so are too far out right to where it’s going to hurt you that much. But then how do you how do you adjust your prices again their business so they have to salute laces Hannah and so it just trickles on down to you know the final customer whether it’s education reporter five hundred operation they’ve got to you know explain the situations I look you know. Our metal prices increased down the line, you know.
Pat: It could, putting my programmer hat on, use less hardware. It could cause people to, right?
Tim: That’s actually a good point.
Pat: Just their system design, put less stuff in the rac, right? That big matrix switch can be compressed down to a network switch and maybe the numbers would work out that way. Could be an interesting angle for to solve that kind of issue.
Tim: Where people to more video over IP and not do it over a switcher. You’ll also from a program from a control standpoint to you know move more toward software as opposed to you know a three to direct high, processor moved to software to where I somewhere in the cloud someone the network.
Pat: Now how about that all due to the price of steel you the way things are all kind of connected to each other.
You were talking about how the business podcast and I think that’s another great subject because there really is no how to. And in A.V. for a long time everybody’s always been busy. But with things changing, I kind of wonder, if in a few years from now, the flow of projects will change, just a little bit, if things do become more software based. Right the whole integrators maybe to change their business model. I mean it there was talk of this years ago, as margin started to go down with with Amazon you could buy display on Amazon. But the model still doesn’t seem to be service based for the most part at all. It’s still his margin based model of selling hardware.
Tim: They trying.
Pat: Yeah, well that’s exactly the point. That I’m trying to make is like, there’s no how to, to make that jump. And have you bumped into any resources on on a podcast to try to just help us you know take this thing apart and and figure out a new way to put it back together.
Tim: Not on that possible broadcasters specifically. What I run into is some folks were doing it well. And I’ve run into those folks at different industry events. Two or three of my favorite events have nothing to do with the technology. They all had to do about the business of AV.
Tim: And there’s absolutely reasons to go to ISE, there’s absolute reasons to go to Infocomm and all the other technology trade shows. Certainly you get to see cold things you get to do things you know it and and experience things, but what I would say is that there is more of a reason to go to these business centric our shows as well these business centric meetings.
Pat: Do you have any examples?
Tim: Well there’s the three that I have is my super summit which that’s only for PS my folks, in the CIA’s BLC would stand for business leadership conference and then of ex is a back which is the A. B. executive conference. Is not taken out mean there’s not there’s not a technology showcase their. These are folks that are going to you’re going to have a chance to talk with your peers, what other business owners.
Tim: And find out what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong and how they can help you and honestly how you can help them. And in doing so, you know you’re gonna be able to see what’s worked in what’s doesn’t. You know we’re obviously that there are regional differences in their cultural differences, not only across you know international borders but also on the scene in the US there’s regional, cultural differences as big as we are. But the basics are the same, right and understanding that and it was it was actually at the BLC three years ago now, I ran into a young man who was in charge of emigration from up in Maine, which is singled out of the way. But but they were doing service and support, as a AV as a service and support through their clients right, they had they had taken the the sass model the software as a service model and convertible into AV rather successfully and they did it through number different ways number one was was the monitoring and maintaining of their systems. But that conversation and coupled with a couple different conversation with some other and integrators who had moved to AV as a service through not only monitoring but also leasing, the equipment.
Pat: The equipment, okay.
Tim: So it’s not yellow you Patrick as the client you don’t own anything, right. My contract with you says you’re gonna have the latest greatest stuff within five years, every year, so it’s my job to make sure that the system is up and running and maintained and that you have the latest greatest you don’t have to worry about you know end of life for a projector or display or a control processor. Your stuff is just gonna work and it’s my job to figure that out. Now you’re going to pay me for that, right you gonna pay me for that, because suddenly you you don’t have a need for a support team you know have a need for you know having somebody physically on site because I’m gonna come within and you know depending on base on the contract but within an hour five hours twenty four hours depending on what the contract says. I’m going to support you, to this to this degree.
Pat: Do those numbers work out?
Tim: It does for some people, it does for some organizations right for some for some clients they get, right.
Pat: Is it really just an understanding thing or because you could put this in black and white: over the next ten years, system it will cost you X. and doing that as a service option will cost also X.
Tim: X, plus some. Understand that, it’s not, it’s not the cheapest option, right.
Pat: But you are not laying out the money up front.
Tim: You’re not laying out the money up front: You’re eliminating in you do you hate to talk about you know people line jobs for your limiting a jobber too are so your cost of off that. Number three you don’t have to deal with the the half life of certain products of equipment and then you don’t have to mess with what do you do with that product that that equipment once it’s been taken out and that is actually one of the dirty little secrets of A V. Especially from a technology manager standpoint.
Tim: What the heck do you do with this crap, once you’ve taken out of the rack.
Pat: It’s useless.
Tim: Seriously I had the office I had it at Lewis and Clark, which is the college I worked at, it was, our head in for our master control for our our internal TV station, okay. So I had it you know five racks worth of equipment the set the other about time. I left there I had replaced everything in that rack, when I got there. It was all old CRTs and an old old analog equipment.
Pat: Big stuff too .
Tim: I all of my gosh I had, replaced everything in that rack to where it was down to two racks. I had a back room full of gear.
Pat: Yeah, try ebaying it.
Tim: Ebaying it is worth less right, because you you get five or ten Bucks. But then so we only end up doing electronic recycling our college had a green initiative in this and other once a year , we electronically cycle and that’s where a lot of those old five wire switchers went right to a company that we knew that that are college had had bedded they knew what they did with the equipment once they got it and and they were responsible about the way that they dispose of it. But you know that’s one of those things that folks don’t really think about because you know I don’t care what the VCR with the doc came from her years ago. This stuff has first of all has hazardous material and right now people think about that but you’ve got lead in there you’ve got ill do it like this electronics have got crap in it that probably shouldn’t go into the ground how do you responsibly dispose of that and some companies absolutely do really good job of that they’ll have a program to where the either get a credit to their their clients are the height say „Hey I’ll take this off your hands and as we know how to properly dispose of it“. Absolutely there is that there’s also I would say a large majority of folks we simply don’t know what to do with you know a sixteen by sixteen BJ switcher, once they take it out and replaced it with the with a digital equipment.
Pat: Right, so that’s like another bonus of that as a service modelle right, they would take care of that that final tasks. So it sounds like this is all as a service model is more about convenience it’ll cost a little more but you get a ton of convenience it’s like kind of like what Rich does as a white glove service. So what’s the hold up?
Tim: Getting the AV sales people to wrap their head around it.
Pat: Are we, so we are our own worst enemy, kind of.
Tim: Absolutly, it’s just like every industry by way.
Pat: Yeah, okay, sure, but this is like a real opportunity to grow, because you know within a service model, you know how much is coming in every month for the next five years. These are contracts as opposed to the way we do things now, a project comes in, you get it done and then you basically start from zero again.
Tim: I think some of is also cultural, going back to that, but yet it’s cultural as well, because you have a business that has a business plan. And it is in their business plan to sell ex amount in their hiring the salespeople to sell a system.
Tim: I’m not so the contractor and some of that’s it you know some that’s also a cultural shift internally to say okay we’re going to make the shift. I would say that the folks that I know they had gone to the service model alright there are sure to migrate to art are incredibly successful.
Tim: I am certain that there are failures out there. I have not heard of them, but I’m certain there are values out there, people who for whatever reason whether it’s their market or their client base or whatever.
Just couldn’t get off the ground. Then gone back to to doing you know sales and and a service as a separate item.
Pat: Okay, so to shift to an end as a service model, is obviously a big investment, right. It would it completely changes everything. Is there a pass to do it incrementally?
Tim: That actually is how you almost have to do it, right? You can’t exactly do on mass, you would have to take it , object right so you get an RFP, or you are selling to a client and you know you’re listening to them and you’re hearing their their big pain points. But that’s the other part is this is not for everybody , there are some folks who eaten will never let you monitor their network okay ever let you monitor their system. So unless you can overcome that hurdle, it’s not gonna be a very successful AV as in service installation. So that you use a limited arsenal system.
Pat: That could be handled with staffing no?
Tim: Yes and no. I mean yes, you can put somebody physically on on site, right. And then that’s another cost.
Tim: Some cost, but yeah absolutely.
Pat: Okay, interesting stuff. Let’s shift gears back again to….you know that kind of reminds me of, is like you were saying, to start incrementally like I tell programmers just do something small you know find your smallest projects, if you want to learn a new programming language and tried on that something that you know you could go back to your old language and do in just a few minutes. But just just try it on a really small project first. And that’s how you that’s a gain confidence with these things- that’s how you start to that so you go from crawling to walking.
Tim: That’s why the most famous phrase and all the programming is „hello world“.
Pat: Yeah, there you go.
Tim: Seriously, because that right there is you know if you can do „hello world“ in a language then you can go from there.
Pat: Yeah, definitely. So speaking of control, „state of control“, but I’m a big fan of it, obviously.
Tim: I am too.
Pat: It’s actually, you know, hearing everybody, she knows that I respect, talk about the different ways to approach AV control it’s it’s kind of inspired me a bit to follow up on some of my own ideas and develop them and even try out a new product or so on the market. They don’t know it, didn’t always work but.
Tim: Oh they will.
Pat: Do you know of any similar stories on estate control or any other podcasts where somebody’s been inspired to really take action and do something with the information that that you guys are providing?
Tim: There are a lot actually over the years.
Pat: Pick your favorite.
Tim: I’m trying to think, but I will probably will I’ll stick with state control and the good lord this has been, two or three years ago now. I can’t remember. Crestron came out with their diamond level programming. If you’re not familiar with with Crestron sort of by programmers there are, number of years there was sweat three different metals and was bronze silver and gold and then they came out with platinum and then they came out with diamond. And we did a special episode with the first ever diamond programmers. Now two of them were Crestron employees but still there was there was four of them that were that were first ever and out of that Labadie Dave hats started talking about doing diamond and he became a diamond level year later the first ever diamond that I ever knew personally right. I knew the couple of the posters of the question that but I didn’t know them really well the day was the incredible fantastic very talented diamond level programmerer.
Pat: But we should also point out that it’s about three weeks of work to do that certification.
Tim: Well, more than that, because then you have to do it, you have to keep it you, have to teach every year.
Pat: So it’s a real investment.
Tim: It’s incredible investment and even with the one thing that I find fascinating, is you have to teach outside of your discipline and what I mean by that is, Dave is a network programmer, he could take you know network control and and and run with all day long he’s a commercial programmer, he has done commercial programming for years, so the first class he did was buy a home.
Pat: Was resi.
Tim: Was residential automation. Fish out of water. As our water and that’s with a duty right. That’s what they do to you. To stretch your arms and to get you kind of on the path of making sure that you are not as a real well rounded, right. I’m obviously Hatz probably has you know, fifteen pro3’s in this house and use fully automated the only service dog food every morning you know outlaw doc brown. But you know it it’s, there is something where it’s you’re getting outside of your comfort zone and outside of what you do on a daily basis.
Pat: So, I’ve had to make his decision myself and I decided for the time being not to make that huge investment in the next level of Crestron programming just because, yeah, does it really make a difference? And you know, from what you’re telling me, this guy was inspired to make this huge investment, from one of your shows. I don’t know, what do you think, does it really? Maybe it’s a country thing, here in Germany maybe they just don’t look at certifications the same way. They all kind of look the same and blur, but is there, yeah.
Tim: This is why it depends: You’re an independent programmer. I have been outside of the spec part of the AV industry for probably too long, so I understand that when I say what I’m gonna say. I have not yet run into a situation, where somebody has put on us back, that they want a diamond level programmer. It doesn’t mean, that they’re not out there. I’m just saying that I have not personally run into or heard about a spec I ate in our P. where somebody has put down but they want a diamond level I am certain that there is at least one or two out there that that they’ve asked for. And the other side of that is there very few situations where it be where it would be warranted.
Pat: Well, that’s the other thing, yeah.
Tim: By and large most course for most programmers I know Crestron AMX external, most of them that are worth their salt and they get they get their certification, can handle a vast majority, of thrown at them. Yes, there are building automation’s where you know what you’re doing. right. And for that I would say a higher level of certification would be needed. And what you should be called out of respect, but if that’s what your business is and that’s what you talk about what you do on a daily basis a personal question then.
Pat: You know, sure sure, got to be decided on a case by case basis
Pat: Alright shifting back TV nation. I remember running into you a few years ago and you quietly whispered to me in my ear that you were I’m gonna go a hundred percent all in with AV Nation. Do you remember that time?
Tim: I do.
Pat: So what was the biggest reason was the biggest thing that that gave me the confidence to make that jump?
Tim: Two things. First one the the support of my wife. Of any ship flight that you have to have the support of your partner, regardless of who that is.
Tim: Certainly it was it was a weird combination. So we had just started monetizing aviation and and by what I said just I mean we had this was the first start, we had just started taking on money from other people up at that point it was completely financed by me. I was financing and by doing some outside jobs. We had just completed our first trip ISE, which was a can credibly successful Kickstarter for us. It was very humbling, because up to that point well Infocomm was a trip that almost went to anyway. So we were kinda able to kind of couple together and I could cover whatever nobody else could. But ISE was different, ISE was a big chunk of money. It was ten grand was our budget show and our listeners came through in our supporters came through in a huge winds quickly on more, but also prove something that we could do it and we could do it differently, than other people and that’s kind of what our thing is. We cover the industry in a unique way because we’re all in the industry. And so I wanted to finance it in a different way to kinda keep with with who we are. And so after I see that year was actually I was I is the twenty fifteen twenty fifteen to that I was looking around like, okay what’s what makes sense to me and I’m a big fan of NPR and PBS and BBC in the UK and an image are an arcane and just the way they think their model is which is pretty much be a publicly financed but no undue influence, I guess the best way to put this.
Tim: And so the way that we have our contracts with our underwriting structured is, there’s no real influence. And you know that’s just kind of the the way we we wanted to go. And so we were starting to take on some money, not a whole lot but enough to offset into where I didn’t have to the side projects anymore. And the company that I worked for, was eighty eight, independent programming house. I was the they operate the ops manager for. We got sold to a local integration firm in Saint Louis of folks that I have a lot of respect for. Good friends with. They were one of our biggest clients at at the time. And some sitting in this meeting and not really knowing what to expect from them. They were very gracious, they had all these ideas for me. They wanted to do this and this and this and I’m sitting here in this meeting going „this is a unique place in my life, this is a unique time and I have an opportunity, I can absolutely take this job. I could take this job and I could work this job for a year two years five years whatever. But AN Nation at the time was in a unique spot that I was I it was it was when those moments where you either take it full bore and and and and take it out and spend it and take it out for a test drive and see what it’s capable of. Or you just keep in the garage and it’s something that you can tinker with on the weekend.
And in that moment I just kind of decided well this is this is my time to figure out whether or not this is something real or not. Without this is something that people can really honestly sustain or not.
And I told them that and I remember the owner, who’s become a very good friend of mine and one of my business mentors, says „well it sounds like you’re quitting, before you ever start“ and I said, „well I kind of am“ and so I left that meeting oddly on cloud nine. Not having a job. I was unemployed, thoroughly. And it has been the scariest and craziest two and a half years of my life and I would not do it differently.
Pat: Excellent. I like how you mentioned you had to recognize the opportunity, that was happening.
It was the it was a special opportunity that came you had the Kickstarter you had maybe a few underwriters so you kind of proven that there was a need for it that it could become something and then the company getting sold was kind of a catalyst to to kind of snap your into reality and say „wait a minute, I can either do this or that“ and then you chose this road. So what was what was really your biggest concern at the time what what were you worried about?
Tim: Paying my bills.
Pat: Yeah obviously.
Tim: I mean so it’s interesting, that when I tell people my story, they’re the ones that one of the more common questions is „you have your wife“ and yet „you have kids right like „yeah yeah that I’ve a mortgage I have to to pay for in Ohio.
Pat: Are you mentally stable?
Tim: No, no I’m not. You know, but now that’s that’s the biggest concern every month you know and and you know there are months that are better than others. And well I have a really good friend, I have known Michael for over twenty years he has recently in the last year and a half he has gone out on his own is does he does IT consulting. And he will be on me the powerful, for advice and I’m you know is is one thing we were I’ll tell him is like looking out there there are going to be days and they’re gonna be months that are horrible, right where you are going to question your own sanity in question your own your own brains. But we’ve gotten to the point where we are are stable and we are solid. And I’m I’m happy with on or the underwriters that we have them happy with the group that we’ve got and so out of that stability you okay so what were stable now it’s taken us two and a half years to get stable but were stable so okay so what does any good entrepreneur wants wants a stable, you try to grow right.
And so we’re in the process of doing some things that were were assessing some things and going okay you know what can we do to be a silly bigger for her sake but what can we do better? Right? What what can we do better how can we do things are even more differently and how can we reach more people and how can we do it more efficiently and how can we make our underwriters lives easier and how can we connect with more integrators and and what are we not just covering and were we not doing and you know we we started doing adjustments expo last year twenty seventeen. For the first time and we are doing it again this year, because our integrators are telling us that deals digital signage as a particle is important to them, so okay so you spend two days in Vegas right honestly Patrick it’s the cheapest show that I do , from a from a cost standpoint, so it is the least expensive show that we cover and it’s you know I’m in Saint Louis so I tell people, I’m spoiled as far as he is whites it takes me I get any place in the country in three hours you know at the most and Vegas is among those and you know southwest being southwest you can get in a fight pretty cheaply and you know hotels in Vegas Sir you depends on where you stay obviously but you know those little relatively inexpensiveunless you go during CIS, which I’ve heard really horror stories about that, but that’s a whole nother issue: But you know it’s it to you you grow from a stability standpoint and a you stretch and you see what’s possible and you know we’re not perfect by any stretch the imagination we have our own issues and and we’re still learning how to be a website as opposed to in in addition to being a podcast company and that comes with that with its own challenges, because it’s something that we never had to worry about you know was a website traffic because our our podcasting traffic is is what it does. And so that comes with is its own set of challenges and trying to shore that up and and learn because as a business owner I have to make I have to make intelligent decisions so the way that I make decisions, I want to learn everything about right I’ll be an expert but I had to have I have to know enough to make an informed decision, so you know learning about you know things like you mentioned SEO and learning about things like making sure things are in proper categories and making sure that your , you’re promoting so proper and all this other „hoo hah“ that I never had to worry about you know five years ago. So that’s a learning. It’s a way that we can we’re able to become better and and serve our clients in in our our listeners better is okay, we’re good you know we’re or stable now now let’s start stretching.
Pat: Excellent, sounds great. Any plans for the future you’d care to share with us?
Tim: Take over the world.
Pat: Really? With a podcast?
Tim: Absolutly. Here’s the thing- we I see online media, as not just the future of media in general, but I see it as as kind of where we’re going as a society and I do mean it is a global society. I still believe in print, I think print is a is a fantastic medium, I think the journalists that worked at The New York Times SEM are fantastic people. Right? I think they do an incredible job of what they do, but I also look at what time magazine is doing on time magazine, if you’ve never heard of them is little magazine right, but they start out being being a print magazine. If you go to Times website you’re going to see as much video as you are written conduct and you take the flip side of that company that started out as being just as video on that CNN, CNN start out being just video right. It was the cables news network, well with the the onset of of the of the internet are there is much written as they are video on their website now so you’ve got you’ve got to be as a media company you have to be everything are you have to provide folks written content as well as video and I would argue also as well as audio all you have to give your audience what they want in the format that they wanted an you regardless of whether you’re covering audio visual or you’re covering politics you have to give folks what you what they want in the way that they want it. And it took us a long time to realize that it really really dead because I thought blocks right I thought blogs I thought press releases I fought you know written content I’ll let them right on the folks that help me run AV Nation will tell you that but I finally realize that you know what yet not everybody likes listening to me talk right not everybody likes looking and looking and then when watching some people just simply like to read , okay so you gonna go down that road as well. But no I mean I am I am fully ensconced in my business owners share. !I wanna take over the world, I want to be the number one you know audio visual media platform, I want to be the number one audio visual media company out there I would be number one and I I say that very humbly and but very honestly you know I am also a competitor, as well as a broadcaster and so how you do that you listen to your people you listen to you you listen to people who give you feedback , you make adjustments and you say okay to that just don’t work and if it didn’t well then you go back to the drawing board okay what what what’s next.
Pat: Excellent, excellent. Well, you’re doing a great job you’re definitely on the path. You know I’m a big fan. I remember the first time you called me for a programming job, that’s the first time we met.
Pat: And I was like holy crap, it’s Tim, I heard your voice on the other side of a phone and not coming through my car speakers, so yeah there’s a there’s a lot about the power of you know audio and voice and things like that but but the other know die that you were mentioning it sounds a lot like the way people learn too. Like some people learn better with text, others with video and I guess the news is a form of of learning too. The next big change could be right, you’re saying that there’s this move to video. What happens when everybody has a pair of googles?
Tim: No, not everybody will have a pair of googles.
Pat: No, no, because then you’re there, like it doesn’t get more real.
Tim: Well, the reason I say that is because I am, objects are right I am that you know that that lost generation between the damn boomers in the damn memorials and yeah so we’re we’re you know we’re that we are the forgotten generation at and you know there there is you know our our kids are kids may very well have goggles the more likely than not our grandkids or great grand grand kids may very well have the goggles but in the meantime it is the augmented reality of the cell phone right and you know it it’s the reason I say that we we probably don’t have goggles is is does he goes back you go back to 3D. one of the main reasons the three D. never really took off to the people who were in the glasses if they don’t have to wear glasses.
Tim: I’m thirty three years old and I don’t have to wear glasses knock on wood right so do you think Zak like you know my dad was forty when he started wearing his readers and I’m forty three and I still don’t have to so I and I will fight it tooth and nail but I I’m legitimately I’m not I’m not fighting and there’s a there’s a box over there with the small print I can still read it now you know once I get to that point with wearing glasses you know I I don’t know that I’ll feel differently but I would say that if you don’t have to wear glasses you’re probably not really apt to even if it’s going to give you some weird experiences however okay if you are already looking at yourself or let’s be very Frank about it we all are right arm then you you kind of lean towards that and there’s there’s where some of the the I a are going to come from in our years honestly there’s some games out there and there’s some programs out there with that I’ll let you you know see stuff on your desk if you know if you look at it through the through your lands and I’ll give you an augmented reality experience.
Pat: It’s gonna be interesting however plays out. So given your background in the AV press do you have any ideas on for somebody if they’re coming out with a new software based solution or even if it’s hardware based something new and different approach to solving something in AV? Do you have any ideas or advice on how to raise awareness for something like?
Tim: Two things. First of all get yourself a couple integrators to buy into it, because here’s the thing so regardless of what the press release says this is the this is the latest greatest thing in the history the world and it will change how everybody does business in a brief period in the sentence right, I just wrote somebody’s press release with, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have somebody to sell it to and to give the people in the press, a use case because with very few exceptions, the vast majority of audiovisual press have never been in the back of Iraq pulling cable.
Tim: And as much respect as I have for them and I have a lot of respect for for everybody that that I work alongside in the process of the AB industry that is one thing that that they don’t have as they do they’ve never worked anywhere right so that you’re gonna tell them its latest greatest thing I don’t care what the display with its control program over to switcher. They’re gonna look at the specs and their comparison up to an old the on the previous model and they’re gonna say you know this does X. amount more or this does this and the other and number one the kind of had to take your word for it unless you’re there physically going to get a hold a bit and I have the testing equipment to test your hypothesis in in your your marketing speak or they’re gonna talk to any writers that they trust that they’ve developed relationships with. They all do you know they’re out there they all do their job right they did they have any brothers that they trust that they can bring to other they can bring a product to and say what do you think about this and why. And then no cultivate you know I’ll use their their opinions is as part of their of their coverage because these are the folks are using on a daily and weekly basis, so I would advise you to obviously connect with the press but also connect yourself with some integrators and that you can point the press two and say look here is Susie’s AV emporium who’s been using this product for six months and this is what they think.
Pat: All right. Great stuff, thanks for that. Tim, I think we can go on for a long time here, we’re gonna have to do a part two some time
Tim: Ok, whatever. You’re in Germany so you can stay up as late as you will.
Pat: Exactly, I think the kids will be knocking on the door here and running the podcast any minute so…
Tim: It wouldn’t be the first time.
Pat: Exactly thank you so much for being on the show.
Even with that shift in my head and and shipped in my philosophy, I sat there for probably, five minutes, yeah I’m wearing and blundering and just putting off quitting pressing record, before it will before we did our first show, once I pressed record and I started, it was down hill, but it was the active physically pressing record and saying what I had been trained to say which is three to one before ever start recording, it was that act that I was I was putting off right, I was it was that for whatever reason that pressing that record button was so difficult and in the moment. You know I had talked around I’d never met him before I had Linda from this who was a long time AV industry journalist, out her husband works for, okay booking audio and then I had my buddy Michael physically next to me right we’re sitting in my college radio station that I top production and at the time and you know I’ve got things kind of Jerry rigged between two different computers and and a recording system and it’s on the other, but it was until I hit record that it actually started doing anything in my head
Pat: Yeah, have you heard about the war of art?
Pat: He talks about exactly that it calls it the resistance he gives it a name he calls it resistance and he goes into this whole book is explaining how the resistance is out to get you and prevent me from doing everything you’re meant to do it’s it’s a great book, are the war of art tour of art and, it’s a good one to read for ten minutes in the morning to then she did to fix your head right.