Selling Disruption

Mike Blackman, CEO of Integrated Systems Europe, examines how the Third Platform is set to cause a tsunami of change in the AV/IT integration market. Blackman believes that first mover advantage could be crucial

Old school CIOs are now prioritising the simplification of their IT infrastructure because the very definition of IT has changed so dramatically. Historically the view was that ‘there is no IT industry – just a chain of industries that together make up a process we call IT.’ Now, the opposite is true, and the IT ecosystem of today is filled with vendors, integrators and distributors that can genuinely claim to do it all.

In this new ‘Disruption IT Age’, digital transformation has turned industries upside down. It began with publishing and music and has progressed today to TV, automotive, transport, hospitality, building and construction – and to an even greater extent, audio and video.

The next wave of this new age of change for the IT industry is rapidly approaching and it will echo the landmark evolutions that IT witnesses about every 15 years.

The change will be so significant that analysts such as IDC predict around 30 per cent of IT integrators won’t make it through – and those that do will have to deliver a 50 per cent change in their salesforce to compensate.

The source of the imminent tsunami is, of course, the impact of cloud, mobile, Big Data, social media and Internet of Things. Together they can disrupt almost any industry, turning losers into winners and vice versa.

With the whole ecosystem turning digital, we’ll soon be able to say, once again that ‘it’s all IT’. This new IT role is no longer about hardware and software, or even ‘solution selling’. In the Age of Disruption, IT is selling disruption itself.

The change has been evident for some time now, with companies like Cisco telling integrators almost a decade ago, that it is was no longer sufficient to sell solutions. The message was clear – ‘Bring us your knowledge and understanding of specific vertical markets and ability to understand a client’s business’.

IT’s other blue chip vendors have since marshalled their resources to adopt the models of the Accentures and IBMs of this world.

A new breed of GenX and Millennials integrators recognise that it’s the cultural and organisational changes that are the key challenges – and that the key to success is tying together the organisation’s operational and IT objectives.

There is no more focused element to the epicentre of this new era than audio and video technologies. Enormous potential now exists for convergence savvy IT and AV integrators, who ‘get’ the new IT and how these crucial techs will change the IT landscape, because those that don’t will be rapidly left behind.

In fact, the AV industry itself is facing its own version of the ‘Climate Change’ syndrome. Whilst hundreds of AV leaders are preaching the coming of IT, others are resisting and denying it. The deniers argue that AV is too specialised, that it can’t all be replaced by the network or that ‘the IT guys ‘don’t know much about AV’.

Those preaching its arrival are in good company, and have clearly ‘seen the signs’. Google and Apple are rapidly replacing traditional solutions with the likes of Nest, Dropcam and AirPlay – and taking the mystique out of audio and video through their philosophy that ‘software eats everything’.

Meanwhile IT is, in fact, reinventing AV according to its own vision, leaving tradition behind as it creates increasingly IT-orientated audio technologies that were seeded by Audio-over-IP and Video-over-IP.

Those who will rise to the challenge recognise they’re selling products and services to business clients who identify with the new AV/IT collision from their own their consumer lives. After all, everyone is familiar with apps that allow us to record, download, manipulate and ‘socialise’ video content, as one of numerous examples of commonly available technologies.

Digital disruption may be the most important thing that no one in the AV integration space is yet talking about, but from the way people consume information to the way meetings will be conducted, it’s about to influence everything.

The appearance of flat panel TVs and projectors in meeting spaces, and speakers with AV control systems being used the classrooms marked the very beginning of the first wave of the tsunami.

As consumers and businesses increasingly look for tools and technologies to provide information at the right moment in time, room based technologies will become just one link in the collaborative chain.  With society becoming increasingly mobile and the upcoming explosion of the Internet of Things, the era of sensors, wearables and instant access to information is also set to dramatically change we way we live and work together.

A vast IT / AV integration market is set to open up and rich pickings are there for the taking. Although the potential has so far gone largely unnoticed, the new Disruption IT wave is rapidly approaching – and smart integrators are already paddling fast.


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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine