ihiji: A New Strategy for Recurring Revenue

2/2/2010 5:40:23 PM

It’s a word you probably can’t pronounce but can’t forget.

ihiji, pronounced “I Hee Jee” is an acronym of terms identifying the values and vision of a new West Palm Beach company that makes a remote monitoring solution for the CEDIA integrator.

In case you were wondering, the ihiji acronym stands for: “Intuitive products, Helping dealers grow business and satisfy clients, Inspired by the goal of simplifying business, Joining AV and IT, and Imagination always at work.”

 ihiji founders
Stuart Rench and Michael Maniscalco

The driving logic behind ihiji’s solution, called invision, was to create a repeatable monthly revenue stream from service contracts, while facilitating the best client experience possible.

The co-founders--Stuart Rench, president, Michael Maniscalco, VP, and David Rench, VP--have found that remote monitoring service contracts keep homeowners happy, reduce system downtime, and compensate for the eroding margins on high-commodity display items. “It’s repeatable revenue every month without a retail sale,” said ihiji spokesperson Katye McGregor of Muto Communications.

ihiji's management team has a background comprised of computer and electrical engineering, research and development, information technology, computer programming, and graduate-level business with experience in residential electronics systems design, installation, and servicing. As integrators, Rench and Maniscalco saw first-hand the need for reliable IP-based system monitoring, which led them to develop invision as a means to improve both their firm's efficiency as well as their client's satisfaction. It’s been beta-tested and installed in several projects and soon will be available nationwide.

ihiji’s team believes that as system complexity increases and the transition of traditional audio-video systems to IP-based architectures continues, dealers and end-users can benefit from “proactive” rather than “reactive” service, post-install.

Invision is designed to be web based and to let dealers see in real time what’s happening with their client’s systems; they can reset, recalibrate, and make repairs from afar, as well as make more informed choices about when to schedule house calls.

Practically anything CEDIA installers spec -- entertainment equipment, home offices, data networks, HVAC, lighting controls -- can be accessed and monitored 24x7, according to ihiji. If there’s equipment downtime, a temperature change, bulb outage, hard drive error, or low ink in a printer, dealers are instantly pinged with SMS and e-mail alerts, allowing them to resolve the issue, often before the client is even aware a problem existed.

Key to the monitoring system is invision’s dashboard, personalized for each dealer. A standalone device installed at the client site executes status checks and reports system deviations to ihiji’s back-end server, which then archives the data for future reference and use. In the event that product performance issues are identified across multiple installations, dealers can share pertinent details with manufacturers, thereby facilitating needed product improvements.

“Having the ability to reset a system from home, rather than roll a truck at 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve, can be a huge benefit for dealer and client alike,” McGregor said. "The invision solution provides dealers the option to resolve issues remotely, which can save them time and money, or they can opt to go onsite if that is what is necessary or expected."

Dealers also can easily add new devices to invision as client systems are upgraded or expanded, McGregor noted.

Several IP-based remote monitoring systems currently exist on the market, but ihiji says that many of this ilk are either convoluted or cost prohibitive.

Designed specifically for the CEDIA channel, ihiji offers four levels of service based on the complexity of the system and number of devices being monitored: entry, basic, advanced, and unlimited. ihiji is not setting MSRP and encourages dealers to price the subscription fee into an annual service contract.

"Depending on system complexity, dealers could charge anywhere from $150 a year to as much as several thousand dollars, depending on the size and scope of the system being monitored” McGregor added.


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