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5-Minute Interview: Jason Friedman

Jason Friedman, President and CEO, Creative Realities A Fairfield, NJ-based AV design and integration firm, Creative Realities specializes in creating unique customer experiences through branded, immersive, and entertaining environments.

Jason Friedman, President and CEO, Creative Realities A Fairfield, NJ-based AV design and integration firm, Creative Realities specializes in creating unique customer experiences through branded, immersive, and entertaining environments.

Pro AV:Creative Realities takes a different approach to marketing its AV integration services — offering to partner with architects, designers, and consulting firms. Why don't you market directly to the end-customer?

Friedman: We do market directly to end-customers, but our focus is really on more of the new ideas, prototypes, and experiences that can be created, rather than on AV. Most of the companies we work with are on the early adopter side of the curve. When we partner with these architects, designers, and other firms, we put their ideas on “steroids,” working with them to brainstorm different ways to achieve them. I think most companies today focus on the tools they have in their tool box and what they can make out of them, instead of focusing on what they're trying to make first and then using their tools to create it.

Pro AV:How receptive is the architectural community to your offerings?

Friedman: More often than not, the architectural community is very interested in pushing the envelope in design and doing new and innovative things. Architects have begun to get more involved in branding and in the whole experience. In trying to do that, they're looking for other ways to differentiate themselves from other architects and designers.

Pro AV:One of the constant struggles integrators face is the reluctance to install technology that conflicts with interior aesthetics or décor. How do you address this issue?

Friedman: We don't figure out what the technology is until we figure out what we're trying to accomplish. Once we know what we're trying to do, and our team agrees on it, balancing the whole integration of form, function, design, marketability, and sustainability fits into place. I think it's strategy first and technology second.

Pro AV:Besides product and technology specialists, what other kinds of expertise does Creative Realities have on staff?

Friedman: Our Design and Create group brainstorms new concepts and new ideas with the architects and designers to analyze the customer focus and what they're looking for. Our Project Management group focuses on coordination and integration to make sure things are sustainable, operational, and useful. Our Engineering group is the nuts and bolts behind the technology — using everything from off-the-shelf electronic components to designing their own board-level electronics. Our Technical Services group then does everything from installations to maintenance and on-going support.

Pro AV:What advice would you give to other pro AV integrators looking to partner with the design industry?

Friedman: Integrators need to focus more on their strengths. In general, our young, fragmented industry lacks specialization and focus. Creative Realities happens to do a lot of things, but our strengths are in creating the experience of using technology as a tool. A lot of other systems integrators are great at other things. But instead of offering that value and being the best at that, they say, “digital signage is a new trend,” and they go after that. Because everybody is being so reactionary to all those different things, I think it's very difficult to be great at anything.



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