We’re in a period of market and technology convergence. CEDIA has launched incredible efforts for workforce development of new industry recruits. A focus for CEDIA Government Affairs is the incorporation of Class 4 circuits within the 2023 edition of the National Electric Code. One event that aims to tie together such myriad trades involved in the CEDIA channel is “A Taste of Technology,” which traditionally hosts 150-200 attendees.
This event was created years ago and was regularly held in the Washington, D.C. metro area of Tyson’s Corner by a large, now 30-year-old integration company, Sight and Sound Systems, which is based near Washington Dulles International Airport.
As our industry utilizes ever more advanced technology systems, the need for aligning expectations of all market partners of residential and resimercial systems increases. So, what methodologies may have worked before, may require refinement. Even business systems within our integration companies have become more complex for tracking projects accurately.
After a Covid-induced hiatus, Sight and Sound Systems resumed their local event in September using greater focus upon the market partners and less so on end-users. It’s called A Taste of Technology because it was held with wonderful food offerings at Chima Steakhouse, while offering a terrific immersion of demonstrations, classes and interaction with CEDIA industry suppliers, builder partners, developers, architects, and interior designers.
Demystifying Notion That Integrators Are Just ‘AV Guys’
In previous years, A Taste of Technology included invitations to end-user clients. This year was an exception, which allowed the design community to take classes and learn the application of new technologies being added within our industry.
For example, I attended the training session led by Steph Vaughan from Hill Residential, where the 2018 acquisition of Ketra by Lutron allows synergistic lighting design options not previously available. This included discussion and display floor demonstrations of color intensification and human-centric lighting as a refinement to the idea of circadian lighting.
Beyond product offerings, the event included the human element of vendor sponsorship and fundraising of HomeAid National Capital Region. HomeAid National Capital Region provides safe and dignified housing and programmatic facilities for those experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness by maximizing their relationships within the building industry to garner in-kind donations of labor and materials. A Taste of Technology raised several thousand dollars for HomeAid through the raffle.
In an environment where design and builder professionals are the “customers” within the event, this yielded terrific opportunities for active and unfiltered dialog around applications and product solutions. This also provided the opportunity for significant updating regarding the digital programming and integration needed in our market today.
This structure helped draw any latent perceptions away from thinking of integrators as just “AV guys.”
One of the most interesting and extended conversations was with a man named Ed Messik from DFM Development Services. Messik has done business with and interacted with Sight and Sound Systems for many years in the D.C. Metro area.
His business is to serve as a consultant to builders and suppliers for developing new projects in the area. Being in the heart of the nation’s capital, it’s easy to see that legal and community zoning measures have a significant impact regarding the viability, promotion, and execution of any new project.
As a member of the CEDIA Government Affairs, I was among those who appreciated the ability of interacting with someone who was able to assist in visualizing these dynamics.
Lastly, this event was also attended by Mandy Beckner, CEDIA’s VP of education and training. She was even able to meet with a member of the Certification Commission and have dialogs with many of the suppliers. Because Beckner resides in the area, Sight and Sound Systems values her presence at their events as a local industry thought leader.
Taste of Technology Presents New Emphasis on Process Management
As evidenced throughout this event, clearly our industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated in integrating technology projects. Maintaining profitability and efficiency for executing these projects is critical for continued growth and new opportunities.
In just four months, Sight and Sound Systems will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their cloud-based operations and project management, called MaxaWare. They created MaxaWare LLC to run Sight and Sound Systems operations and to be more efficient and aware of each project with its respective details, in real time.
About four years ago, they took a much more outward approach for making the MaxaWare cloud-based platform available to all integration companies via new marketing pushes. As a result, this yielded another revision to A Taste of Technology, in that Sight and Sound showcased and shared the MaxaWare methodology with other trades.
Demonstrations were provided, showing how the software handles end-to-end management of customer information, proposal creation, by vendor and by stage purchasing, project management with geo-location capabilities, together with service, efficiency tracking and on-the-fly management specified reporting.
This was yet another emphasis of the need for remaining profitable and producing highly reliable and more complex integrated systems.
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