Your browser is out-of-date!

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


Clarifying Identity

We all know that “CI” stands for custom installation, don't we?

We all know that “CI” stands for custom installation, unless, of course, it stands for custom integration. But wait…my co-worker, Mark J. Pescatore, content director for Systems Contractor News, would say it stands for commercial integrator, and I’ve never known Mark to be wrong. Or if you are a fan of television police procedurals, you may think we are talking about confidential informants, but I am pretty sure we are not.

C and I
Getty Images

So, CI is custom installation or custom integration (or the people version of those phrases — custom installer and custom integrator) and all other attempts to take over those letters in that order are secondary as far Residential Systems and the CEDIA market are concerned.

However, a new-to-me-challenger entered the arena through my inbox last week. An email from my alma mater was promoting a podcast called “How CI (Creative Intelligence) is Changing CX.” The description followed with, “You’ve heard of Artificial Intelligence, now meet Creative Intelligence (CI), a new era in marketing.”

I say “new-to-me” because a quick Google search revealed the phrase has been around since at least 2005, but used in a few different ways, normally fully spelled out and staying away from our CI. That seems to be changing with its more recent adoption by marketers. And marketers by their nature are really good at making things stick.

Also by Anthony Savona: Hiring the Bravas Way

Near as I can tell, the latest CI has to do with using data and creativity to reach your audience. AI will play a big part in the creatively intelligent future, which does have some bleed over into our world, as artificial intelligence is a key factor in leveraging the smart home to new levels of convenience for clients. What that means is that creative intelligence may have a role in custom integration, or, to put it another way, CI for CI.

The more traditional, non-marketing-related use of creative intelligence is also something custom integrators employ on a regular basis. That CI is defined as having the ability to invent solutions to new problems. Working with home technology that is always evolving, creative intelligence is key to success for a custom integration business, whether we knew the phrase existed or not.

Speaking of phrase awareness, I dropped “custom installation” into Google to see what would pop up. In the handy “People also ask” box on the first page of results, the first listed question is, “What is custom installation?” Which is great, but the not-great part is that the answer comes from the cybersecurity company Kaspersky, and it says:

“Custom installation is an Administration Server installation during which you are prompted to select components to install and specify the folder in which the application must be installed.”

That sure doesn’t sound like us. Well, maybe the computer version of us, but I don’t think that translates well in the consumer world.

So, the world at-large may think they know what CI is, but they are wrong. Only we know what it really means — creatively intelligent custom installers completely implementing cool ideas.