Is Magic Still Alive?

I was reading an article on the Tucker Tuesday Blog about Magical Thinking and it inspired me to think a little about his question of whether an AV System that lives outside of the Apple environment will be viable in the future, or if the “legacy” systems we are installing today are the last of the dinosaurs slowly dying off after the Apple meteor’s impact.

Being in AV integration for the last decade, I have worked for a couple different firms doing everything from structured wiring in residences to high end AV for museum and visitor’s center environments.  For this reason, I agree with Mr. Tucker that there will be some market for proprietary AV systems and system design in the future that does not involve the Apple portfolio, at least not in it’s “out of the box store” state.

In an increasingly competitive world it becomes more and more difficult to pay attention to your message.  Apple has done a great job of creating mindshare in the marketplace, and creating an ecosystem of hardware, software and services that continues to keep them at the top.  It is that same success that will make it more and more difficult for Apple to stay there.  As adoption of Apple products becomes wider and wider, ans as they are determined to be the defacto standard for AV installations, they will inevitably become “commonplace”.

One of my favorite “Demotivators” posters from Despair Inc shows a picture of snowflakes and reads:

Individuality

Always remember that you are unique.  Just like everybody else.”

I think this rings true in our industry.  If your strategy to get a customer’s attention or to create corporate buy in or to make your message “stick” uses the same exact delivery method as everyone else, how memorable is it really?  And if you are using the same devices as the potential prospect already owns, what are the chances that they are compelled to come use yours?  The learning curve is low, but so is the prospect’s curiosity.

I remind people frequently that

Your potential customer has access to every piece of information and media they want on a 4″ HD screen that resides in their pocket, and ask “Why will they choose to consume your content instead?”

Using technology in new and unique ways- ways that lower the barrier to participation while still ELEVATING the user experience: ways that capture the imagination of the prospect; ways that make your location a DESTINATION where people say “You HAVE to go see this place” regardless of whether the product or service is a fit or not, just for the experience alone.

Even Apple can lose its edge if every Grandfather and Soccer Mom has a tablet.  Airwalk saw this when they tried to go mainstream and lost the cult following, a concept that was detailed well in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.  Part of it’s theme was how

“the Stickiness Factor [that] is generated is unconventional, unexpected, and contrary to received wisdom.”

Only when we think outside the current paradigm, and dive deeper into the user experience can we truly continue to deserve our spot as AV Integrators and justify our existence.  We need to continually raise the bar and innovate.  sometimes that means abandoning the things that have traditionally made us money and jumping to the next curve.

The Five Deadly Business Sins as presented by Peter Drucker are:

1) Worshiping high profit margins and “premium pricing”
 2) Mispricing a new product by charging “what the market will bear”
3) Cost-Driven pricing
4) Slaughtering tomorrow’s opportunity on the altar of yesterday
5) Feeding problems and starving opportunities

How many of these has the AV industry been guilty of?  How many are we STILL guilty of?

I would assert all of them.

Selling “protected” lines that can’t be shopped, picking lines based on margin, charging for the same product on a sliding scale based on who the end client is, taking cost and adding 40 points, refusing to adopt new technology until the writing is on the wall, continuing to push antiquated technology based on business practices, avoidance of retraining, etc. . .Does any of that sound familiar?

So, in my opinion, the “magical” thinking comes in when we dare to look at the hidden opportunities in the mass adoption of Apple Ecosystems.  No one struck it rich by digging right on top of Sutter’s Mill, they spread out and staked their own claim, finding their gold in the process.

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