Earlier this month CEDIA’s CEO Vin Bruno breathed new life into the debate over what term we should be using to describe our profession. This conversation started in earnest nearly a year ago when CEDIA conducted a survey at the 2015 tradeshow in Dallas. As part of the survey participants were asked, “When you think into the future five years, what title best describes you/your customers’ work?” The term “Home Technology Professional” led the pack, garnering 30 percent of the vote. Second, third, and fourth places were rounded out by variations on the term integrator (“Custom Integrator,” “Home Integrator,” and simply “Integrator” respectively).
The debate came back into the spotlight when Bruno delivered a keynote address at the PowerHouse Alliance’s recent national sales convention. During his speech Bruno emphasized the need of the CEDIA channel to enhance our perception in the eyes of the average consumer. With that goal in mind, he called for an industry-wide end to the use of the term “integrator.” Citing the fact that no one is likely to use the term “integrator” when conducting an online search, he instead urged industry adoption of the term “technologist.” While I agree with the spirit of Bruno’s argument, his specific suggestion misses the mark.
In all of the various settings I can imagine myself describing my work, I can’t think of one where calling myself a “home technologist” wouldn’t feel stodgy and awkward. The phrase also feels every bit as unrelatable to the average consumer as “integrator” does. Moreover the phrase conjures up images of a scientist tinkering away in a lab. Don’t believe me? Go do a Google image search for “technologist.” Almost without exception the resulting images contain lab coats or microscopes, sometimes both. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never worn a lab coat, and none of the trucks in our company fleet are equipped with a microscope.
As an industry what we need is a name that is accurate, easy to remember, and doesn’t sound intimidating or overly “geeky.” Just as the results of our 2015 industry showed, the term “home technology professional” is a clear winner. I suspect that Bruno’s suggestion of the phrase “technologist” is simply an effort to provide us with more succinct phrasing. But if the end goal is relatability, then his suggestion is a step in the wrong direction. If we need to reduce the syllable count for conversational and branding purposes, then I have a better idea: “home tech pro.” It’s friendly, punchy, memorable, and most importantly it accurately conveys what we do.
Unlike doctors, lawyers, accountants, and countless other professions we may never have the luxury of summing up our profession at a cocktail party with a few words or less. But while calling ourselves “home technology professionals” may still require some additional explanation, it’s the closest we’re likely to get to a simple, and memorable term that accurately captures the essence of our work. I, for one, vote that we stick with the results of CEDIA’s 2015 survey. No more, no less.