Back in June, Installation revealed its first ever Pro AV Power 20 list, rounding up the most inspiring and influential figures from across the AV and installation market. To get to know them a little better, we sat down with each of our Pro AV Power 20 inductees for an in-depth chat. Here, we meet joint managing director of the Saville Group, Andy Dyson…
How did you first get involved in the AV marketplace?
I had shown an interest in AV when at school, volunteering as an ‘AV Monitor’, prepping overhead projectors and screens for classrooms – part of this was driven by an interest in technology, but I was also avoiding having to be outside at breaks when it was raining. This interest in technology led me to take a position with the company in the conference and live events division, where there was the added attraction of travel as well. During my early time with the growing company, I was able to enjoy roles in different areas of the business which I have to say certainly helped as my career developed. The rest is as they say, history.
What would you say are the most significant changes/developments to have taken place in the industry during your time?
Having been in the industry since the mid-eighties, I have a lot to choose from! I think the most significant has been the move from analogue to digital as without this, the major advance over the more recent years would not have been possible. I think it also fair to add that we can’t overlook the incredible changes that both the iPhone and iPad have had on changing our everyday lives, putting incredible computing power into our hands and literally changing the way we interact both socially and in our working lives. This began a definite change in the industry where consumer technology started to drive professional trends, which was quite revolutionary. I do have to say though, that I am a self-confessed Apple geek so I may be a bit biased.
What personal and professional achievements are you most proud of?
This is really a two parter. Being in the position of owning and running the company I first started work with, alongside some incredible fellow directors, is obviously the ultimate high. However, I am really proud to say that it did not stop there with the opportunity to lead the team that successfully rebranded the company in 2018. This was a huge project and brought a lot of risk with it, although to be fair, our old brand was tired and so not rebranding had its own risks too. It was a success due to the incredible effort put in from the talented team across the business and I was proud to be involved and able to help.
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Do you have a philosophy that you live by professionally? If so, what is it and how has it helped you in your career, benefitted businesses you’ve worked with and the wider industry?
I think my philosophy is always looking to find the best in the abilities of others. I firmly believe that if you find and nurture the right people and put them in the right position, then the business will succeed. Having a commitment to help people achieve their true potential ultimately means the business achieves its goal. I’m not sure that I can honestly say that I have done anything to benefit the wider industry, mother than proving that you can work your way up from the shop floor and that being part of a team is what drives me. I also think that having a down to earth attitude and a sense of humour goes a long way too!
Prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic, what would you say were the biggest areas of technological or operational challenge for the AV industry?
Maintaining the same high standards of quality and customer service that we provide in the UK to our clients around the globe. We are achieving this by developing a partner network with a detailed on boarding process and clearly identified processes and regular audits and reviews.
What impact has the pandemic had on you and your business, and what do you think will be the longer term impact of this extraordinary period on our sector?
Projects have been delayed by lockdown, but they have not been cancelled. In fact, feedback from our clients is that keeping their communication and collaboration technology up to date will be an even higher priority in the future. Although there will be more home working following the pandemic, there will still be a demand for offices and meeting rooms, so as a company that helps facilitate communication between home and office workers as part of a communications strategy for organisations, we can see a positive future for our business.
What needs to change in the industry? What do we as a community need to get better at?
The industry needs new blood to be constantly joining and currently there is no recognised higher education or apprenticeship courses that specifically match our requirements. If this were solved, then the industry would attract the best talent. As an industry we collectively need to find ways to inspire and engage the next generation of AV professionals to help drive the industry forward.
In your opinion, what will be the biggest driver(s) of change for the AV market in the next five years?
I think the pandemic has caused us everyone across all sectors to reassess how we operate. Remote collaboration and team-working was a main focus of the industry and that has just been put into turbo drive as a result of Covid. Meetings are still going to be an integral part of how organisations function, but now the focus is on how to do that remotely. The need to not directly interact with technology hardware is going to spark new investments in gesture and human interaction; Alexa may soon have many new autonomous colleagues.
There is probably also going to be a huge change in the way we integrate and manage our meeting spaces, with room and technology management systems becoming ever more important. This will no doubt all rely on a greater utilisation of ‘big data’. Organisations that can actively manage their workspaces and their people, providing a seamless and intuitive working experience, will definitely see positive returns in productivity, cost management and staff retention.
As we enter an era where track and trace will become a part of life, it makes sense that this will transfer into the work environment.
For us as AV integrators, this opens a whole new and exciting chapter where we can use technology to help keep us safe and at the same time efficient.
Finally, what would be your message to those starting out their careers in the AV community?
Learn as many different areas of the industry as you can, work hard and enjoy the amazing, fast moving and dynamic industry we are in.
Andy Dyson joined the Saville Group straight from school in 1988 as a junior, and now co-owns the company as its joint managing director. Andy initially joined the conference and live events side of the business where he quickly rose to a senior management role in 2002. He headed up the systems integration side of the business in 2009, creating a new senior management team and driving a period of dramatic growth in revenue and profitability.
In 2013 Andy was promoted to the board as commercial director and in 2015 took on a second role as sales and marketing director. In 2017, Dyson and six fellow directors successfully completed a management buy out of the company. His commercial, operational and marketing skills were invaluable as he led and supervised the team responsible for the major company brand transformation in 2018. This saw the two operating sides of the business, Sparq and Visavvi, emerge and develop as brands in their own right. A key focus over the last two years involved building a senior management team for Visavvi that has transformed this established UK business into a successful global entity that has seen international sales grow from £350,000 to over £4 million.
Who’s had the greatest influence on your career?
John Sills, previous MD of Saville Group
Who did/do you look up to as a role model professionally?
I admired Apple’s Steve Jobs focus on delivering the complete client experience, rather than just the technology
How do you measure success?
Happy clients who we have impressed so much that they take the time to tell us…repeatedly!
What’s your biggest professional regret?
I guess I am lucky as I cannot think of one – I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn and do things better, but no regrets
If you were a teenager today, what profession would you go into?
I would still be excited to join the AV industry, but I would also love to be involved in the technical side of film and television. So, following the fusion of AV with IT, perhaps the next will be with media