Much has been made over our industry’s recent struggle to embrace a new title for CE pros. Looking to replace stodgy names like “Electronic Systems Contractor” and apply more value to the simplified term “Integrator,” we could clearly benefit from something more marketable to the everyday consumer. Results of a consumer study reveal the term “Technology Manager” as a strong preference.
A past survey of CEDIA members revealed “Home Technology Professional” as a front-runner. While this title is an improvement on the surface, I fear it is too limiting in scope. The inclusion of the modifier “home” pigeonholes our industry into a small niche of an otherwise burgeoning technology market. This limitation fails to capture the full breadth of our value proposition to the connected family both now and into the future.
In debating our new title, we must consider the fact that our industry is amidst significant change. As in decades past, we continue to refine our core competencies such as smart-home design, installation, service and support. However, while demand for these home technology offerings remains healthy, the market’s needs are increasingly expanding beyond AV and smart home to include personal technology (think smart phones, tablets and computers).
I think there’s a possibility that, if we’re not careful, the significant opportunity presented by this market expansion could pass us by, being capitalized on instead by the IT business.
To accommodate this reality — as an industry — we need to leverage our new title to develop a better product-market fit between our unique positioning and the needs of the connected family. In this respect, titles are extremely important as they concisely convey to our potential customers the benefits of working with us.
Therefore, while the respective opinions of industry members certainly carry weight, we should also think critically about what our new title says to the outside world.
To that end, we asked consumers about their technology needs by conducting a survey of Electronic House readers. A sister publication to CE Pro, Electronic House was chosen for its readership which consists primarily of consumers, as opposed to industry members. We received several hundred replies.
Study Results Favor 'Technology Manager'
The results? Consumers overwhelmingly want a single service provider to manage all of their technology, not just their home technology. The data also shows that this singular resource is perceived as more valuable than existing professional categories. Take that in for a moment…
Based on the results of this survey, I’m convinced that the title which best positions CEDIA professionals for the future is “Technology Manager.” Not only does it play off the preference we see in the data for a title starting with the word “technology,” but it also positions us to take full advantage of the premium value consumers see in a single point of contact for all of their technology — a market need that is poised for continued growth.
Perhaps most importantly, the title “Technology Manager” doesn’t pigeonhole our industry to home technology services only. While certain niches dedicated exclusively to the home technology space will always exist (think high-end technology designers or home theater consultants), I believe that eventually the majority of integrators will be well-advised to expand their services into personal technology management. This new title allows our collective industry’s scope to be broadened as the demands of our evolving market increasingly dictate.
Where’s this all going, you ask? Whether or not we are collectively ready to begin managing our client’s personal technology, the title we choose should leave our options open to a market positioned for continued growth.
The results of our survey (which are expended on in detail in the gallery that follows this article) indicate that “Technology Manager” fits the bill now, and puts us in the best position for the future. This new title certainly gets my vote. What about you?
*UPDATE: I had a chance to meet with Julie Jacobson recently at the CEDIA Business XChange, where we had a conversation about this topic. She brought up the good point that two words for a title is hard to write all the time, and that “integrator” is more appropriate for most articles about this industry. I agree with Julie and appreciate the nuances of an industry in transition, but I believe for outsiders the title Technology Manager relates in a broader and more relevant way.
Survey Objectives and Methods
This survey was developed in an effort to gain insight on three key questions:
- In what category of professional do consumers place their home technology and personal technology service providers?
- What titles do consumers use to refer to a person who helps with their personal technology and their home technology respectively?
- How does the connected consumer want to be serviced in the future?
We received over 600 responses to the survey which was conducted in the first half of 2016.