5-Minute Interview: Tom Peters
We talk to the President of International Communications Industries Association (ICIA).
Tom Peters is President of International Communications Industries Association (ICIA).
Peters was recently named president of Fairfax, VA-based AV communications industry association ICIA and also serves as vice president for the Eastern region for Integrated Media Systems, an Anaheim, CA-based AV design and consulting company.
Pro AV:What are ICIA's priorities for 2005?
Peters: This is our year of best practices. We're in the process of writing a book that will help educate all sectors of the building industry about dealing with AV integrators, consultants, architects, contract managers, owners, and end-users, and the process of doing AV systems, rather than the technology itself. Among our other priorities is InfoComm. It's our biggest and best show ever, and will include a digital signage pavilion for the first time this year. The next priority is international. We have an activity with the International Buyer Program, which is a government-coordinated/sponsored program. We also have three shows this year outside of North America, beginning with Integrated Systems Europe, which was held in January. Then we'll have Integrated Systems in China in April, and Integrated Systems Asia in Singapore in October. We also have internal programs in place to strengthen our international presence. For example, we started translating some of our educational programs into languages other than English. Another priority is intelligence. We're doing market intelligence and information surveys to enable our members to compete with highly regarded education and certification programs.
Pro AV:What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the pro AV industry?
Peters: According to our 2005 market forecast survey, where we went out and talked to the pro AV industry, the two biggest challenges facing the industry are IT firms entering the AV marketplace and the erosion of margins in pro AV products.
Pro AV:Do you see an industry consolidation trend going on where smaller AV integration firms are either being forced out of business or acquired by larger firms?
Peters: I don't see much of that going on today. We saw a lot of that happening over the last decade, but we're actually seeing a reversal of that trend now. There may be some isolated incidents, but I certainly don't see that as a major trend today.
Pro AV:What's your take on convergence? Will the IT industry eventually absorb the pro AV industry?
Peters: No. There's convergence as more of what the AV industry does touches the IT in a system, in a building, or in an enterprise. Sometimes we're sending information up and down the LAN, sometimes just control, but we're utilizing that infrastructure, so there is definitely a convergence going on. There are some very real differences between what the AV industry does and what the IT industry is used to doing. Our end-points are analog, operate in the air, and in lighted or unlit environments. We deal with acoustics and a lot of things that are outside of the digital Xs and Os, bits and bytes world. While there will be some people who will try to do both disciplines, both as integrators and as end-users, there are still some very real differences between the two industries.
Pro AV:Your company, Integrated Media Systems, seems to have great success in communicating with the design and construction industries – especially architects. What accounts for this success?
Peters: A variety of things. We pay a lot of attention to working with the architects at as early a stage as we can in a project, as opposed to coming in at the very last minute. And we also pay attention to engineering and have people onboard who can speak the IT language, which helps.