With the announcement that Harman is closing several offices and laying off 650 employees, it may be time for the AV community to start asking questions that start with “What if… ?”.
Any company can be downsized, sold or shut down at any time. Decisions get made and things change. My first AMX trainings were in 1999 (Axcess and TPDesign) and I clearly remember the excitement of learning control system programming for the first time. It would be hard to imagine the AV industry without companies like AMX that have helped shape it for so long.
But that is exactly what we should be doing. End users, consultants, integrators and programmers should all consider how their businesses and systems would be affected if the manufacturer of their infrastructure decided to close its doors.
How would systems be maintained? If you run an integration company, what products would you offer if your current lineup was no longer available? How would consultants, technicians and programmers get trained quickly enough to make the switch?
It is best to consider these questions before such changes happen. Mitigating risk and diversifying are not just for retirement plans.
There was a time when AV systems were so special, that proprietary solutions were the only way meet most project requirements. With the trend toward commodity hardware and advances in software development, there are more options available than ever before.
There will always be a need for special equipment to deliver cutting edge experiences. But to remain flexible and agile, freely available software and commodity hardware have a role to play. And the two go hand in hand. Low cost, easy to get hardware cannot be deployed without modern software development skills.
Now is a great time to dip your toe in the waters of modern software.
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