Videoconferencing is entering an exciting new phase, the Denmark-based AV integrator's area sales manager - special projects tells David Davies.
How did you come to be working in the professional AV installation sector?
I started out working in the analogue photo and video business many years ago. Over time, the industry began to move to digital - that was a very exciting period to witness, particularly when the semi-pro market started to use DVCAM and other digital video formats. I built up a lot of experience in customer sales, but I became increasingly interested in project sales, and that was the trigger for me to move into the AV business and join Informationsteknik, which I did in 1996.
What are your primary responsibilities in your current role?
I have been working in project sales from day one, and I am now mainly preoccupied with larger/major projects involving auditoria, public buildings etc, although I do also get involved in smaller projects that require more complex solutions. Much of my time is spent liaising with architects and consultants, but I also help out my colleagues as a sort of 'internal consultant'.
In what ways has the Danish installation business changed during your time at Informationsteknik?
On one hand, it is a lot easier now for smaller AV companies to achieve more complex solutions. Thirteen years ago you needed to be an expert to set up a CRT projector, but now it is pretty much plug and play. Similarly, it is much easier to develop a standard meeting room than it used to be. On the other hand, there is also the opportunity to create much more exciting and complex solutions.
What do you think will be the major trends in the business over the next few years?
It's clear that the traditional AV business is going to suffer from IT companies moving into this area. The way I see it, the main difference between a good AV company and a good IT company is that the IT company knows about networking solutions but doesn't necessarily understand sound systems, lighting settings and interior decoration.
Clearly, AV companies will need to make sure they have the necessary IT skills [to remain competitive], but I think they could also benefit from focusing more firmly on the user application. For example, a touchscreen for room control needs to look good and be easy to use. These are the sort of issues that we are focusing on at Informationsteknik.
Which areas of install are driving the business for Informationsteknik?
There are really three main areas: standard meeting and conference rooms, digital signage and videoconferencing. As for the future, it is clear that videoconferencing and telepresencing will continue to grow in popularity. People want to travel less to reduce costs and cut down their carbon footprint, and I believe that we will be involved more in high-end videoconferencing as time goes on. We will also continue to work closely with our co-brand, Danish Interpretation Systems, to undertake larger projects, including those outside of our home market. Denmark is a fairly small market, so you do need to look elsewhere if you want to take on a lot of major installations.
Denmark has certainly not been unaffected by the global economic crisis, so what is your outlook for 2010?
It has certainly been a challenging period for the industry, but we believe that we have seen the worst part now. With projects already underway and in the pipeline, it is clear that 2010 will be better and easier than 2009. On a personal level, it's been an interesting period as I had previously only worked in a growing market with new technologies being presented continuously. [Difficult economic times] encourage everyone to think again because clients are searching for different solutions that can help them to save money and energy, and which can be integrated more into the IT infrastructure.
Finally, do you have any unrealised career ambitions yourself?
The AV business is never boring, and as long as I am involved in exciting projects I will be content. I also enjoy attending AV exhibitions like InfoComm and ISE, and having the opportunity to grow international relations and learn from some of the best in the business. I still find it a very rewarding business to be in, so I am more than happy with my lot!