Category Audiovisual Resources

Perspectives : An Interview with Tom Corzine, VP of Government Sales, AVI-SPL

What is your experience at AVI-SPL with AV integrations in the government market?

I have been with AVI-SPL for over five years and have worked with all of our integration offices to develop a sales and marketing plan for their regions. My focus is on tracking the budgets and contracts for the government but command and control centers and conference rooms make up the bulk of the type of installations we perform in this market.

How long have you been working in this particular market?

I have worked in government market for 12 years. I have attended various AV and VTC technical courses throughout my time in the AV industry.

What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?

My greatest achievement to date really is the sales channel we have created at AVI-SPL. No other AV integrator has the number of customers, installations and success stories we have created here. This is a very challenging industry and we are faced with some tough economic times ahead, but the system that we have created qualifies and executes business in a risk adverse manner.

What is the top concern from the government market when it comes to AV installations?

Ease of use is probably the biggest concern, especially in the Department of Defense, where there is a lot of personnel turnover. The ability to continuously train people as the technology is rapidly changing complicates the design of systems even further. Creating a system design that is flexible and expandable like we do here is really the key to the success of any AV project.

Are there any emerging technologies that you feel best equip this market’s needs?

I wouldn’t necessarily call these technologies emerging; however, they are existing technologies that I see growth in their demand. The use of fiber network backbones, blade computing and wireless technologies are in high demand based on the security, flexibility and efficiency they bring to a system. They have become more affordable over time and the cost factor is outweighed by the added benefits these technologies bring to the table.

What do you identify as the greatest challenges for AV systems integrators that focus on the government market?

Finding the personnel to dedicate to this market is the greatest challenge. The AV industry is challenging enough due to the technical nature of the sales and installations. The additional requirement to find people with experience in procurement and contracting really creates an environment where companies have to train and educate their own government sales force.

In light of the economic challenges AV integrators are facing, have you seen a change in the type of technology being requested?

Due to the annual budget planning requirements for government, the current economic hardships haven’t hit this market yet. With the first new administration in eight years preparing to take office, the future budget is a topic that we do track. We have seen government taking on a stronger role in several areas, especially within the financial markets, defense, Homeland Security and possibly with the automotive market.

How do you foresee the future of AV integration in the government sector changing?

AV technologies will become network centric solutions, and I foresee AV budgets for preventative maintenance, service and support growing into separate line items in government IT budgets. The government has invested heavily in technology over the past 10 years and in order to maintain this existing equipment, dedicated budgets will have to be created. We have seen many agencies hire AV managers to oversee this very task as their AV infrastructures have grown. This is good for everyone as the more attention given to the management of the AV resources the better chance the equipment and services will function more appropriately when used.

Tips and Trends in the Corporate AV Market

Patrick Britton

Today, corporate customers have more experience with AV technology than ever before. Reliability is extremely important. From high projection presentations to sophisticated videoconferencing systems, the corporate AV market increasingly depends on top-notch, cutting edge technology to deliver. AVI-SPL Sales Bid Estimator Patrick Britton, who has worked in the industry for 12 years, shares the latest tips and trends for corporate environments.

Q: What technology has been on the rise in terms of effectively equipping executive boardrooms, training rooms and auditoriums?

Over the past year, I have seen a dramatic increase in requests for videoconferencing solutions. The reasons behind this lie in the introduction of HD videoconferencing and tele-presence solutions, the improved quality of the more traditional line of these products, and a reduction in the costs for the components and required infrastructure (ISDN lines, network bandwidth).

At the same time, travel has gotten more expensive, increasing the cost of attending meetings out of town and overseas. Because of this, it’s much easier for a company to see the return on its investment through the use of videoconferencing technology. All of these combined factors certainly make the need for videoconferencing systems more appealing.

Q: Have you seen in increase in digital signage applications?

There has been a greater demand for these systems, as companies are looking for ways to share important information with their employees, partners and visitors. Digital signage is a technology that can quickly and easily impact a variety of settings. Sometimes these systems are as simples as a few displays in a lobby or cafeteria. In other cases, clients can effectively use them as a network of dozens of displays distributed across a campus, sharing information specific to a building or department.

Q: Do you have any application tips that you’d like to share with end-users?

I always try to work with my clients to make their systems as easy to use as possible. In my opinion, fear is the number one reason that AV systems are not fully utilized. People are afraid of technology. When you introduce that technology into a potentially stressful business environment where someone needs to present information to their peers or management, the potential for disaster is high. By customizing the technology and adequately addressing concerns, we can certainly make the transition into new technology as seamless as possible.

The top concern of nearly every customer is that the system function reliably and meets their needs. Ease-of-use has a direct relationship to reliability. We now have the ability to introduce a control system that can make the AV technology as easy to use as an ATM machine. The cost of the control system can be offset by the increased use of the technology. If a customer wants multiple rooms, I always recommend that they keep the interface (touch panel or pushbuttons) as similar as possible from room to room. Someone who uses Room A should feel familiarity when they walk into Room C. These small details will encourage people to maximize their use of the technology.