Category Archives: Procurement & Installation

Webinar: AV9000 and Quality Assurance

This posting is for informational purposes. AV-1 believes in applying best practices toward quality assurance and supports any opportunity for members of the AV-1 Community to gain a better understanding of emerging standards.

On Wednesday, March 7th at 11:00 a.m. EST, the Association for Quality in Audio Visual Technology will provide a free webinar entitled, What is AV9000 and How Do I Apply Quality Assurance in AV Technology? Led by Mario Maltese, CTS-D, CTS-I, CQT, the session will discuss Quality Assurance as a formal discipline, Cisco’s adoption of the AV9000 Standard, and the benefits of embedding AV9000 language into RFPs.

A Q&A session will follow the presentation. Continue reading Webinar: AV9000 and Quality Assurance

Survey Analysis: In-house Systems Install

More than 120 technology managers and directors responded to our questions about prevailing issues that affect the choices we make when planning to bring new learning spaces online. All respondents were directly involved in some aspect of learning space development (i.e. planning, design, procurement, project management, quality control, installation). As evidence of AV-1’s commitment to keeping surveys brief, the majority completed the survey in less than ten minutes.

What follows is our analysis of five key elements explored in the survey.
Continue reading Survey Analysis: In-house Systems Install

Tiner’s Take on Customer Service Through Controls

“Our rooms talk to us,” says Scott Tiner, Assistant Director for Classroom Technologies at Bates College. In his recent InfoCOMM webinar titled Leveraging Existing Technologies to Create Exceptional Customer Service Tiner mapped out the importance of tapping the usage-tracking capabilities of the technologies we already have in place in order to maximize not just customer service, but also to contribute valuable data to institutional planning.

This is important stuff. Networked control systems can do much more than just dim the lights and raise the volume, all current systems provide hooks to a database in which every button-push and device-selection is recorded and time-stamped. Furthermore, graphic touch panels offer the added benefit of serving as real-time trouble-shooting tools that can minimize session interruptions and empower users to “fix the glitch” before it turns into everyone’s problem. Continue reading Tiner’s Take on Customer Service Through Controls

Report from InfoCOMM 2011 – Crestron

This interview is part of AV-1’s Report from InfoCOMM 2011, in which we ask key industry insiders to share their views on the critical issues ahead. You can contribute your thoughts on this interview in the Comment Area below. AV-1 members may discuss this important topic in greater detail on the AV-1 List.

Over the past decade, Crestron has redefined the traditional boundaries between electronics manufacturers. In 2000, the company embarked on an ambitious course, redefining itself from a manufacturer of control systems to an indomitable provider of integrated presentation systems — systems designed to interconnect and automatically communicate with each other.
Continue reading Report from InfoCOMM 2011 – Crestron

Report from InfoCOMM 2011 – Extron

This interview is part of AV-1’s Report from InfoCOMM 2011, in which we ask key industry insiders to share their views on the critical issues ahead. You can contribute your thoughts on this interview in the Comment Area below. AV-1 members may discuss this important topic in greater detail on the AV-1 List.

Technology in learning would not be what it is today without Extron. When computer manufacturers needed a way to display a computer screen image on a 3-beam projector, Extron worked it out… a quarter of a century ago.

But just “working it out” has never been Extron’s style. In addition to designing cutting-edge components that play well with others, the company has amassed the most comprehensive open library of whitepapers and technical briefs serving to demystify the wild array of protocols and topologies that complicate our lives. Continue reading Report from InfoCOMM 2011 – Extron

Report from InfoCOMM 2011: Audio Visual Resources

This interview is part of AV-1’s Report from InfoCOMM 2011, in which we ask key industry insiders to share their views on the critical issues ahead. You can contribute your thoughts on this interview in the Comment Area below. AV-1 members may discuss this important topic in greater detail on the AV-1 List.

For more than three decades, Mario Maltese has been at the forefront of high-profile audio visual projects in the New York Tri-state area. A recipient of InfoCOMM’s prestigious Educator of the Year award and Fred Dixon Service in Education award, his portfolio includes sound systems for the New York State Assembly and the New York Stock Exchange’s Trading Floor.
Continue reading Report from InfoCOMM 2011: Audio Visual Resources

The Final Yard

This is a reprint of an article posted in 2004 after the Red Sox won the World Series. -Editor

Our work is just like this: The last 5% of the job is tougher than the previousWork  95%.

This assertion is my attempt to break it to you gently; truth is, THE LAST 2% OF THE JOB IS TOUGHER THAN THE PREVIOUS 98%.

Continue reading The Final Yard

Return to the RS-232 Issue: Extron Chimes In

A recent survey on AV-1 questioned technology manager’s experiences with RS-232 control of their projectors. The results revealed widespread, intermittent RS-232 problems especially with serial-controlled projectors.

90% of survey respondents indicated that at least once a month their projectors have “locked up” and stopped responding to RS-232 commands. Ill-timed, random malfunctions of this sort can result in event interruptions and loss of end user confidence in presentation systems and support services.

Translation: This is a serious issue that must be resolved. Continue reading Return to the RS-232 Issue: Extron Chimes In

Survey: Projector Freeze

Recently in a thread on the AV-1 forum, many members indicated that they had encountered difficulties with projectors locking up. In these cases ‘locking up” was defined as the projector not responding to any commands, either via RS-232, IP or IR. We wondered if it might be possible for AV-1 to assist in some way.

We thought that if our community could identify specific products, or a combination of products that are experiencing these issues, perhaps as a community (of 600+ IT/AV people) we could approach the manufacturers and explain the problems and see if they could develop a solution. Please take a moment to complete our projector/control system malfunction survey.

 Scott Tiner

Bates College

Continue reading Survey: Projector Freeze

Survey Results: Managed vs. On-Demand Service

Exclusive in-house support is one of the legacies of audiovisual “media services” groups. As technology evolves and becomes much more complex, many organizations find themselves in the position of reconsidering the cost of maintaining an expanding stable of technology specialists.

In-house specialists require regular knowledge upgrades (to preserve efficiency) and salary increases (to ensure retention).

Given these costs, it is little wonder that many organizations have arranged for outboard services in conjunction with large projects that represent workload increases that cannot be absorbed by existing support infrastructure. (According to this survey, more than 62% of the respondents had at least considered managed services.) However, from time to time, most of us have relied upon services on-demand from local integrators, especially when pinched for time or manpower.

What serves the customer best

[easychart type=”pie” title=”What type of outside support do you use?” groupnames=”38% On-Demand (pay by the hour),8% Service Contract,25% Combination of both,25% We never use outside support” group1values=”20″ group2values=”4″ group3values=”13″ group4values=”13″ chartfadecolor=”FFFFFF” hidechartdata=”true”]

Only 25% of the respondents do all their work internally. The majority rely on some level of on-demand service, perhaps expecting that outside support is called in only to off-load the few complex technical issues not easily resolved internally.

Do you think that the availability of on-call technicians who can tackle most any problem is a trend for most institutions?

[easychart type=”pie” title=”What is the biggest disadvantage to having a service contract?” groupnames=”15% Too expensive,64% Not immediate enough,8% Uncertain quality,6% Less staff for major events” group1values=”8″ group2values=”34″ group3values=”4″ group4values=”3″ chartfadecolor=”FFFFFF” hidechartdata=”true”]

For most respondents, customer service trumps budget-savings. 64% indicated that they need to have someone in their rooms within five-minutes of any reported problems.  Simply logging the problems for an outside technician to fix a some later point, would not work.

“After running AV departments in Universities for 20+ years, I have found that having on hand technicians spread out over a campus is crucial, for optimal support and efficiency when  something goes wrong or technical assistance to no technical people is required. If the support staff were contracted from a supplier, they would still need to be there full time, either in busy periods for on hand support or in quiet for maintenance and upgrades, the cost factor is almost balanced out.”

While answers to the question, “What would be the biggest advantage of a service contract?” proved to be quite diverse, we believe they follow a similar customer-service-centric theme. For example, without having to worry about training and time off, we could simply focus on getting things working properly.

[easychart type=”pie” title=”What do you consider the biggest advantage of a service contract?” groupnames=”28% Less staff + lower costs,28% highly qualified techs,13% no staff leave-days,15% someone to blame” group1values=”15″ group2values=”15″ group3values=”7″ group4values=”8″ chartfadecolor=”FFFFFF” hidechartdata=”true”]

As usual, some of the best thoughts and comments came directly from you, when you were not pushed into a multiple choice question.  Here are some of those comments:

“I think there is a break-even point in which the volume of equipment justifies an in-house staff to provide on-demand responses for support, operations and maintenance. At lower levels, it would depend large on competencies of your system integrators.”

“Maybe I am a control freak, but I know the systems and I know what my clients want/need. I can not imagine an outsourced support group provide the “personal” touch and have our innate knowledge of each room.”

“For me to use an outside vendor, I have to play ringleader, where I have to coordinate that service department with the Registrar’s office for access to the classrooms.  It’s less downtime and coordination to provide the support ourselves.”

“We have always used on demand service but with the increase of technology rooms, 280+, no increase in staff, equipment reaching its warranty limit, & availability of technology fee funds we are moving toward service contracts this FY July 2010.”

“When we looked at a service contract for 70+ rooms, the contract cost was more than double what we had actually spent on time & material repairs over the past 3 years.”

“Our department of three has been cut to a department of two, so now we’re increasingly finding ourselves short-handed for larger events and without the expertise of the missing employee. Management doesn’t offer any solutions other than vague references to service contracts for upcoming building renovations.  Our concern is that we’re in a smaller market which means the contract would go to a local provider who we don’t trust (they’ve goofed up several previous installations) or to a non-local crew who flies in, installs, and then leaves. I’m a big supporter of having in house staff, but cross-training them so they can perform other tasks when A/V needs aren’t paramount.”

“My service contacts consists of warranties and replacement schedules within a 24-hour period. The techs install, program and do trouble calls. If the problem is more that they can handle, we call the vendors who honor the warranties and send the defective equipment out for repair.”

If you missed our survey or have additional ideas and experiences you would like to share, please use the comments section below or start a conversation on the