Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Dealing with AV Schizophrenia

ABC's show Mr. Robot got me to thinking about all of the different hats we wear as integrators and how schizophrenic we all feel on a daily basis. 

I’ve found my new binge watching show; I am so addicted to Mr. Robot on USA. I’m actually bummed it’s only the first season and my binge watching won’t make it much past one or two weekends before I run out of episodes. The show is about a computer hacker/encryption specialist who works for a cybersecurity company by day and a super-secret hacking organization by night. That’s all I want to say about the plot so I don’t disclose any spoilers.

What I’ve really noticed is how much:

  1. I understand about what the main character is doing, since I now know so much about networking—they are talking public IP addresses, DNS servers, DoS attacks and many other topics we cover on a daily basis. It’s pretty cool and exciting to see this in a major new series.
  2. How “schizophrenic” he says he feels because he is both wearing many hats, but is also frenemies with so many people in the hacker world—they need each other to survive but don’t trust each other.

It really got me to thinking about all of the different hats we wear as integrators and how schizophrenic we all feel on a daily basis.

Monday we are AV integrators, putting in a whole home audio system.

Tuesday we are shading experts, measuring windows.

Wednesday we are lighting designers.

Thursday we are network engineers.

Friday we are accountants/marketers/strategic planners.

It is enough to make anyone’s head spin and it just keeps getting more and more complicated. Even CEDIA EXPO can’t decide what we are—one year it is “Own the Network,” and then it is the “Home Of The Future” and home automation. Granted, the two are interrelated, but so is everything in our industry, and that is my point. You can’t rest on your laurels and keep doing the same-old, same-old, or you will end up watching your business shrink as technology, and more and more integrators, pass you by.

Image: ThinkStock 

Similar to the hackers in the show, in this industry we need to associate with many people and companies external to our own, if we want to be successful. But, there seems to be a lack of trust among many of us. How many times have you heard about manufacturers not having their interests in line with integrators and end users, or integrators not having their interests in line with end users? And while it would be in all of our best interests to work together as integrators, and up and down the supply chain, we don’t always do so. I’ve written a couple of times about how having other integrators on your informal team can be an asset when you are not in town or are otherwise unavailable, or to bring in on a project that might be out of scope for the work you typically do. Several integrators I know have similar relationships and thrive, but others I am aware of seem to antagonize others and drive wedges between themselves and other integrators. Or, they don’t act as partners with manufacturers and treat them as vendors, resulting in missed opportunities for referrals and access to personnel.

So what can we do about our schizophrenic personalities? Not too much when it comes to the different hats we wear; that is the nature of the industry and, frankly, if it doesn’t excite you, then you might be in the wrong business. But, in our dealings with others, we need to learn to partner better with each other and with our manufacturers. That can and should change. We need to trust each other and have each other’s backs instead of belittling other integrators to clients, in the industry press, or to manufacturers—no one gains and you run the risk of looking petty, and no one wants to deal with a petty backstabber.

Oh, and if you want to watch Mr. Robot, which I highly recommend, don’t make the mistake I did. I forgot that Apple had launched a USA channel on the Apple TV, so I went and spent the money on the entire season in iTunes. If you don’t mind not being able to fast forward through commercials, go ahead and get it for free on the USA app.