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What it takes to be a trusted advisor

A number of companies claim the trusted advisor space within their respective market. And many do a great job backing it up with demonstrative proof of their claim.

Looking at trusted advisors we interact with — both vendors and clients — here are a few things we note:

  • Trusted advisors aren’t afraid to tell you they made a mistake: They accept responsibility and alert you to problems as soon as they’re discovered, letting you make decisions for your business to respond and recover from possible fallout.
  • Trusted advisors set realistic expectations: They don’t over promise and under-perform. They are honest about what they can and can’t do…and when.
  • Trusted advisors don’t recommend something because it’s personally beneficial to do so: They recommend what’s right for the other party involved, considering their best interest first.
  • Trusted advisors don’t fear competition: They positively talk about others in their market who are good at what they do, realizing successful markets are made of more than one company being great. They don’t look at business as a zero-sum game of winners and losers.
  • Trusted advisors aren’t afraid to fire themselves: They realize when it no longer makes sense to work together or acknowledge another vendor can do a better job than they can in a given opportunity and freely recommend another company or competing business.

Obviously, trust is the common tread through the characteristics of a trusted advisor. It’s why we like working with trusted advisors, they make us feel confident and free to be open about our challenges and opportunities — we don’t have to be guarded in business dealings for fear of being take advantage of.

We believe ourself to be a trusted advisor in the AV and video conferencing space. At times that means we have to make decisions and take actions that don’t favor us. But that’s the point of being a trusted advisor — the other party knowing you’re acting in their favor, not solely yours.  Trust is the cornerstone of win/win business relationships that last.

What is your experience working with or being a trusted advisor?  What would you add or change to the list of trusted advisor characteristics listed above?

Least Favored Viewer

AV Presentation RoomEveryone in the meeting or conference is important. Each participant is valuable. But one class of attendee deserves more consider than others when designing an AV or video conferencing solution — the least favored viewer.

The least favored viewer is the person(s) in the room with the least desirable seat for viewing and hearing the presentation.  Least desirable doesn’t mean it’s an obstructed view, it simply means it’s the seat with the least direct view of the presentation screen or monitor.

The reason the least favored viewer is important is because it drives many of the room design and layout considerations.  You don’t want a room with a number of seats whereby the presentation, meeting or discussion is limited by a number of people unable to see or hear well enough to participate or equally understand the conversation.

There are a few things to consider regarding the least favored viewer, with influences from other design elements.  For example: The size and technology of the screen or monitor are key considerations of dealing with the least favored viewer, with influences ranging from required media aspect ratios to physical ceiling height and ambient lighting.

Audio is another consideration with design issues ranging from feedback to delay, with influences such as acoustic construction and room design.

To be sure, the least favored viewer is important to consider. Successful communication is based on everyone in the room being able to understand and participate in the information being discussed. Taking into consideration the least favored viewer, designing them into the room, assures you reach the entirety of your audience, equally impacting each participant with your video and audio presentation.

So easy a caveman can do it

Arguably, GEICO’s Cavemen commercials are part of one of the best marketing campaigns of all-time.  The campaign’s message was simple, GEICO’s website is very easy to use — even a caveman can use it.  Cavemen everywhere were offended by the reference :)

Easy was the message.  But the story was the hard work put into making it easy — that’s tough.

To make the website easy to use, GEICO had to think through a rubrics cube of customer needs, interest, desires, and habits. That’s tough. A lot of forethought had to go into making things intuitive and comprehensive in serving varied customer needs.

Easy is tough work.

On a different scale, we make AV and video conference systems easy to use.  We take multiple user functions and wrap them with simple touch panel operation.  It’s not rocket science, but it takes a lot of thought to design the perfect solution for each customer implementation.  Considering combinations of things like lighting, sound, video, and environmental changes in a given room, to be commanded by a single touch on a panel, takes forethought.

And while we’d never compare our customers to cavemen, the way we make things easy means our clients don’t have to invest in costly user training or staff support.  We’ve joked around the office our clients couldn’t break our systems if they tried — NOTE: that’s not a challenge :)

Easy means you can focus on the things you want to do or accomplish without getting frustrated.  If you’re old enough to have used a PC before Windows, you know what I mean.

GEICO made things easy and in doing so changed their marketplace forever.  Others in their space had to make things easy too, which is harder than it looks.

Easy is tough work that takes a lot of forethought and consideration.  If it were easy, everyone would do it and GEICO probably never would have made those famous commercials.  Which is the point of this post — not everyone can make things easy…it’s tougher than it looks.

Is your AV and video conference solution future proof?

Future proofing is a process of anticipating future use and technology developments. Future proofing is important because it serves as a form of investment protection.  Future proof systems evolve as user habits, industry trends, and new opportunities present themselves.

The simple concept of future proofing can be applied to most tools of business, from the choice of which CRM you use to which health insurance provider you partner with to provide employee benefits. Making the wrong decision can lead to substantial loss of time, energy, effort, money, and opportunity.

The same applies to your choice of an audio visual or video conferencing equipment, system, and solution. The wrong choice can be costly.

At AV Solutions, we build future proofing into our design and engineering process, considering the basic range of functionality a system needs to provide today, while cost-consciously considering likely use tomorrow.  What results is an audio visual or video conferencing solution with a longer life-cycle than most competing solutions, which can lead to a lower cost of ownership over time.

An interesting thing about future proofing is it often doesn’t cost anything more than less future-rich solutions — it’s as much a way of doing business and consciously packaging functionality as anything else.

The reason I’m mentioning this is as a reminder to us all — we need to evaluate the tools, systems and solutions we invest in for their ability to serve our needs today and the likely needs we’ll require well into the future.  It’s just smart decision making.

What are your thoughts and experiences regarding future proofing a business? Any tips to share?

Technology Distrations in Audio Visual Solutions

I remember it as thought it were yesterday.

A the time I was working for a technology company and about 10 slides into an important presentation, presenting to a potential business partner with hope of entering into a relationship to open a new market. Everything was going well, until I happened to push the wrong button on the presentation control panel – the screen unexpectedly went dark. Twenty minutes later, following a break to allow IT staff an opportunity to reset the system, we resumed with handouts.

The audio visual system I was using for the presentation never recovered.

It was frustrating beyond belief. How could pushing one button cause such a delay and potentially negatively impact our business? Although it was years ago, it’s still frustrates me to recall how embarrassing it was to me and my company.

Talk to anyone who has worked with conference room audio visual systems of any scope and they’ll recall a similar event – something freezes or is mis-touched and the room comes to a screeching halt.

With events such as these in mind, AV Solutions innovated easy to use interface panels and controls to the audio visual and video conference systems we provide to eliminate the common technology distractions caused by multiple remote controls, unintuitive user interfaces and confusing control panel layouts. In fact, we’ve joked around the office that we provide such fool-proof solutions you can’t even intentionally destroy them by randomly pushing buttons or trying to confuse the system.

The AV solutions you use should be invisible in terms of interrupting the flow of a meeting or drawing attention to itself as a result of being difficult to use. Both the presenter and participant should be focused on the content of the presentation and oblivious to everything that makes presenting it possible. That’s something we all should expect and a guiding thought we use to continue innovations in AV system design.

What do you think?  What are the biggest technology distractions you’ve noticed in either presenting or participating in a meeting or conference room?  Any horror stories to share?

The Easiest to Use AV Solutions Available

Easy to Use One-Touch AV PanelThere are few things in our professional lives more frustrating than delaying a meeting or presentation because you can’t get the projector or video display to work properly.   And it never happens at a good time.

The worse of times is when an important client sits there while you fiddle with settings, power-off and and power-on equipment, and wait on technical staff to arrive.  It makes a bad impression and often slows what otherwise was a well paced and productive day.

We’ve all been there, yet it’s such an avoidable and unnecessary occurrence. Advanced technology systems can be easy to use — we innovated such ease of use and engineer it into each system we provide.

We provide a customized control interface that lets you push one button, sometimes none, to automatically turn-on a projector or monitor, roll down a screen or automatically display your selected video source.  Optionally, one-touch can adjust lighting, volume, shades, and other environmental factors.  Sensors can interpret how the room is being used and initiate pre-configured settings and functions desired for the particular environment.

That’s easy to use.

Please contact us today to discuss your unique situation and learn how our easy to use AV solutions can benefit your organization and make your life a little more hassle-free.

AV Solutions is very customer service oriented and a great partner for us in the AV space. ~ Paul Plauche’, Turner Industries Group, L.L.C.