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Q&A: MCIA President Kevin Collins

Collins discusses MCIA's first year in business and adjusting to a tough economy.

Geoffrey Oldmixon · November 11, 2009

The non-profit Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA) recently celebrated its first birthday.

In one year, the MCIA has had to shift gears a number of times, accommodating an economy it didn’t expect to be quite so rocky.

MCIA president Kevin Collins reflected on that tough first 365 days.

With one year under your belt, how do you feel about MCIA’s progress?

Last year, we formed before we had an inkling of this economic downturn. We had three major premises when we formed:

  • General awareness
  • Training
  • Tools

We came out with objectives, and we feel we’ve done a lot of work toward meeting our initiatives.

How do you feel about MCIA’s exposure to the channel?

We’re pleased with the coverage.

Unfortunately, with the economic conditions, it’s not been as popular with integrators as we’d hoped because a lot of them have gone under. Many of the ones we’ve networked with have gone under — even some of the big integrators.

How did you contend with those losses?

We’ve actually increased our Board of Directors and Contributors levels of membership. We’ve bolstered those rings, [adding] Autonomic, Inteset, [and] Aspen Media.

Do you expect 2010 to be a little easier?

If you look at where we are from where we started, things should be easier.

To launch MCIA was an incredible effort. All the companies on the Board of Directors equally put in a lot of time and effort and have since formalized those efforts. From recruiting to marketing, we have chairs for those working groups that are good at independently motivating people.

What impact do you expect Windows 7 to play in the coming months?

We see a lot more awareness with Windows 7. Microsoft is going to remove restrictions and make it easier for integrators that want to have more control over the warranty piece on PCs. Before, that was a process where the PC OEM needed to go back to the manufacturer, but that restriction has been removed.

Also, with Windows 7, there is a copy freely attribute that enables integrators to open solutions up to devices. Recorded TV with digital content restrictions have been greatly reduced.

How did your CEDIA Expo trainings go?

In our training at CEDIA, we updated all our sessions for Windows 7. We had 16 hours of CEDIA University credits available to CEDIA and MCIA members. MCIA members got a discount toward those classes. Classes covered a number of topics … they included hands-on training and instructor training.

You also announced some tool updates, right?

We’ve focused on tools that would allow integrators to be more successful in the field.

A v2 update for the digital cable diagnostic tool helps integrators troubleshoot why they might not be getting stations over their digital cable card. It uses a stoplight metaphor, with red, yellow and green lights so that you can drill down as needed.

The other tool we announced is an automated verification tool. It’s multipurpose. It serves PC OEMs and the integrator. It’s a set of scripting tools that will run on the media center and, no matter how many machines — media centers or extender boxes — it can run scripts that represent flow that a client would use … It puts stress on the system in very fast increments, across all zones in the system, and integrators can make sure there are no weak links or overheating.

How is MCIA increasing awareness?

We’ve published about a half-dozen case studies where integrators that aren’t even MCIA members can see what integrators have built with the eco-structure of media center.

We also announced the winner of our Ultimate Install Contest. It was a spectacular-looking house.

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  Article Topics

News · CEDIA Expo · Media Center · Microsoft · Software · Windows 7 · All Topics
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