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Interview: PSNI’s Chris Miller wants to unite the AV industry

We speak to Chris Miller, executive director of PSNI Global Alliance, about the value of certification and the challenges facing integrators

The PSNI Global Alliance has been around for a long time. Can you tell me a bit more about its history and development?
On 26 June 1986, a group of forward-thinking AV dealers met in Chicago to discuss concerns about shared business opportunities. Quickly they learned that knowledge sharing and understanding each other’s best practices was invaluable. The result was the formation of PSNI (Professional Systems Network International).

In 2013, with 35 member integrators in North America, I made the radical proposal to turn the North American network into a global powerhouse. Opening the doors beyond traditional borders however meant new planning, new resource-allocation and new research to be done among existing members. It was decided at that time that the organisation remain domestic, but the dream didn’t die. Far from it.

Global engagement only increased for PSNI member companies, facing problems of country-specific processes, not to mention cultural differences that can undermine smooth operations. In 2016, it was decided that PSNI would underwrite an exploratory study to determine the viability of a global footprint. The findings confirmed that the timing was right for the expansion of the network to benefit current and future stakeholders.

After a year of research, dedicated resources and recruitment efforts the network lit up the runway with an introduction of 10 new members from around the world and PSNI Global Alliance was formed. Expanding ever since, the PSNI Global Alliance now represents 170+ offices with coverage on six continents with the belief that we are powerful alone, but unstoppable together.

You opened the Supersummit Event to the public for the first time this year. How did that go and how did it compare to previous years?
Supersummit is the flagship event for the PSNI Global Alliance and a highly recognised conference in the AV industry. Premiering in 2008 as a management conference for peer-to-peer learning, the event has expanded over the years featuring world-renowned speakers, authors and industry veterans from around the world.

Traditionally, Supersummit has been limited to our members and Preferred Vendor Partners (PVPs) who are actively involved in PSNI Global Alliance programmes. This year however we wanted to open up a piece of the event to the entire AV community because we strongly believe that the voice of the end-user needs to be heard and understood by all; not only to provide a better customer experience but also to raise the professionalism of the entire industry. Putting true AV technology to use, we opened up our end-user panel to the public through Facebook Live and maintained the member-only exclusivity throughout the rest of the event. The results were phenomenal. We were able to have active participation in multiple countries, interact with people inside and outside of our network, and really demonstrate the power of audiovisual communication. It’s something we will likely expand on in the future.

What is the aim of the Global Deployment Certification?
The PSNI certification programme is the foundation of global connectivity between members. The purpose is to demonstrate that each PSNI Global Alliance member company is committed to excellence and professionalism in all phases of design, engagement, deployment and support of enterprise-wide, multi-destination projects and support. End-users can expect a standardised and cohesive alliance approach to their AV requirements. In many cases, the PSNI Global Alliance standard and accountability structure is more comprehensive and accountable than single source companies who approach multi-country projects.

To be certified by PSNI Global Alliance, each member company appoints a minimum of one person to complete a comprehensive timed test that measures competency, understanding of PSNI Global Alliance engagement procedures, flowcharts and process mapping and utilisation of logistic resources available through the PSNI Global Alliance network. The comprehensive global deployment process was designed by industry technical and sales experts from around the globe and is managed by the PSNI Global Alliance Deployment and Service Oversight Committee, composed of tested and industry credentialed appointees. We also support industry recognised standards as defined by AVIXA.

“The expectations of deliverables, time and project constraints coupled with the on-going search for qualified personnel make delivering completed systems sometimes very challenging”

What are your mid-and long-term goals for the PSNI Global Alliance?
We will continue our commitment to be ‘change agents’ – supporting our stakeholders and the services they provide to end-users around the world. For the past 30 years we have always believed that we are stronger together by leveraging the experience and skills of our members for a better customer experience. Our goals include continued expansion and coverage with the most highly qualified integration partners in the top GDP cities around the world. Our core programmes, research, KPI programmes and training will continue and expand. Development is underway to provide comprehensive global services and subscription options that connect our members and services to end users around the world. It’s an exciting time to be in the business!

What do you see as the major challenges facing integrators around the world in the coming years?
Our members around the world report being very busy with projects. The expectations of deliverables, time and project constraints coupled with the on-going search for qualified personnel make delivering completed systems sometimes very challenging.

Additionally, the rising costs of business is juxtaposed with declining product margins and end-user expectations. Our members know that to keep up with customer demands while growing profitability, their overall business model will transform with XaaS offerings and managed services. Our members report they are challenged to adapt while managing and maintaining today’s business.

Global companies will require global partners. If integrators and service partners are not aligned with a network of highly qualified and vetted partners, they will be very challenged to stay relevant to those end-users.