Before I started cyberManor in 1999 I decided to attend a conference, called Connections, which is dedicated to promoting the vision of the digitally connected home. I hadnt heard of CEDIA at the time (nor had any of the Connections presenters) and I was fascinated to hear about the products these manufacturers were making or planning to make for the digital home. As I sat in this conference with about 600 other attendees it struck me how little attention these large manufacturers and service providers paid to the integration channel. It was as if there was a general assumption that all of these products and services would just be plug-and-play for the consumer.
Having just spent the previous eight months that year wiring my home and trying to get my home computer network to share our new cable modem broadband service, I knew that integrating components to connect the digital home was anything but plug-and-play. cyberManor was initially founded to service this home computer networking need.
Fast-forward seven years and a lot has obviously changed in the digitally connected home. Now we can connect many of our audio/video and control subsystems to our computer network, and the complexities of digital home integration have increased significantly. And, for the first time, the large manufacturers and service providers that host and attend the Connections conference are recognizing the need for a professional integration channel to best meet the needs of their consumers.
Last month I attended the 2006 version of Connections, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear how often the CEDIA name came up on panel presentations. From the opening keynote to the closing panel discussions solution selling took center stage as a way to attract and maintain clients. Solution selling has been the cornerstone of CEDIAs membership since in began in the early 90s. It now appears that our organizations strength and growth has finally caught the eye of most of the worlds largest consumer electronics manufacturers and service providers. Many are planning on developing channel programs that will train and certify our industry to carry their higher end product lines. This can only help to elevate our status in the eyes of consumers as these larger companies recognize our custom electronic companies as elite channel partners.
Companies like Microsoft and Cisco have well-established training and certification programs for their enterprise channel partners that help these partners provide high-end professional solutions for the business clients. It would not surprise me to see this same level of professional training and certification being offered by Microsoft and Cisco to the professional home digital integrator before the end of the decade.
As Microsoft moves from being a single-zone operating system platform into a multiple zone platform, and as Cisco enters the home market via their set-top gateways coupled with an increased variety of broadband services you could expect both of these companies to have an increased role within CEDIAs membership.
Having spent most of my career in the enterprise world I know that the training and certification offered by these top-tier companies is superb. We were able to differentiate our business from our competitors because of the number of employees we had professionally trained and certified and the product lines we were allowed to carry. This has always been a cornerstone of CEDIAs training and certification efforts and has helped set us apart from our non-CEDIA competitors. Expect that professional training bar (and subsequent consumer recognition) to go even higher when the Microsofts and Ciscos of the world endorse our industry.
Gordon van Zuiden (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of cyberManor, in Los Gatos, California.