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Worlds Of Opportunity

One of the more challenging conditions brought on by the ongoing convergence of technology-based industries is the blending of languages.

One of the more challenging conditions brought on by the ongoing convergence of technology-based industries is the blending of languages. Sure, in the U.S. we all speak English, but AV and IT professionals, the building industry, and many associated sub-trades have “languages” of their own, filled with trade-specific jargon that makes it difficult to communicate. To make matters worse, in some cases we use the same words to convey different meanings. Yet, we all know that a successful project — and a happy customer — depends on good communication among all these groups.

Most readers know that one of this publication's fundamental missions is to foster a common “AV” language among historically segregated audio and video professionals. It's safe to say that while progress is being made, we still have a ways to go. Over the last several years, trade journalists have written about the importance of “how to speak IT” — I even conducted an InfoComm session on the topic. While the awareness is increasing, I'd have to say our IT language proficiency is still far from where it needs to be. And it goes beyond the obvious IT connection. We also need to understand the trade dialects of architecture, telephony, and construction, among others.

Our own trade associations have done a good job reaching out to some of these groups and bringing them into the AV family — or at least inviting them to dinner occasionally. It's interesting that we don't see much reciprocation; there aren't a lot of AV exhibitors or session topics at the American Institute of Architects convention, for example. Some groups may not see the connection between what we do and what they do. Some may feel threatened by the presence of another perceived to be within its professional domain. For the sake of all of these groups, including pro AV, we need to get past these mental roadblocks.

There are worlds of opportunity out there if we just open our eyes to them. We already know about the importance of partnering with IT pros and architects/designers. But there are many others. One of the best ways I know to sample the language of another industry — and envision its possible connection to your own — is to walk the trade show aisles. Have you ever walked the floor of the International Builders Show? How about VON? CTIA Wireless? There is a common thread running through all of these outwardly unrelated industries: the technology that's used in the service of our end-customers — for communication and sometimes entertainment. There is no threat if you are confident in your expertise; each of us brings a different dish to the dinner table, and the meal isn't complete without all of them.

Mark Mayfield

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