One of two special accolades presented at the InstallAwards, the Grand Prix is given to a company or organisation that has played a major role in shaping the integrated systems landscape. This year, the award goes to Harman Professional, which, not content with creating and building a range of successful synergistic audio brands, has broadened its remit in recent years, notably through two key acquisitions: Martin in 2013, which added lighting to the company’s technology portfolio, and AMX last year, which has brought control and video into the mix.
Erik Tarkiainen, vice president of global marketing Harman Professional, comments: “Our strategy has been heavily influenced by the installed sound market, but installed sound is only part of the picture – we’re looking at the entire communication mix, and so video, control and lighting had to be part of that. That’s been a long-term goal of Harman Professional since Blake Augsburger took over as president in 2006.”
Tarkiainen sees the market as having evolved decade by decade: from audio components in the 1980s, via audio systems in the 1990s and AV systems in the 2000s to application-specific AV systems today. A lot of this development has been customer driven, he points out: a company that presents itself as a systems solutions provider needs to provide the types of systems that its customers are looking for.
“You’ve got to work out how you’re going to deliver exactly what it is that your customer wants – and that way we can guarantee that we can carry through all the criteria that we’ve stood by, like being protocol agnostic, network agnostic, and being as open as possible, to allow third parties to link into our systems.”
The strategy has seen Harman’s installation market grow “quite significantly”: the company has been successful not just in traditional AV application sectors such as boardrooms, conference centres, shopping malls, airports, stadiums and concert venues, but also in less mainstream areas including hospitals, recording studios, post houses and TV studios.
A year after AMX joined the Harman fold, Tarkiainen reports that “everyone is very pleased with the way things are going at the moment and we are already realizing significant synergies and benefits. The AMX team is a very entrepreneurial group, very open to working with the different entities within Harman.”
Regarding the award itself, he says: “We’re very humbled to accept the InstallAwards Grand Prix. To receive an award of this stature is a great endorsement of the strategy we’ve been rolling out over the past few years. It sends a great signal to the market, and is a credit to our customers and our staff.”