How do you know an integrator is right for you?
How do you know an integrator is right for you?
In this blog, we consider the key questions that clients should be asking when seeking an integrator to handle their broadcast and AV projects.
The role of a good systems integrator
A good systems integrator is firstly able to identify problem to be solved – this seems obvious but is generally not trivial. Next is architecting the right solution to the problem. Solutions require in-depth knowledge and expertise in the field and a good systems integrator has access to the right expertise, both internally and externally that can be involved in the development of the solution.
A good systems integrator can adapt solutions to fit the resources and match the budgets of each specific client. In addition, a good systems integrator will continue to assist a client long after the delivery of a solution, whether through comprehensive support capability or availability for advice to optimize systems.
A good systems integrator engages in continuous development and training of its internal expertise and recognizes the need to retain experts in the core fundamentals while embracing newest technologies.
These represent our core principles at Video Progetti and if you agree with this then read on.
A solution without a problem
In this industry, we always seem to be talking about solutions. But ‘solutions’ is a funny term, particularly when it’s talked about in the abstract. ‘We offer innovative solutions’. Solutions to what? You can’t have a solution without a problem. And as soon as you start to talk about solutions in the general sense, there is an assumption that there is just one singular problem.
But for those that know the broadcast and AV industries – they know that there isn’t one problem, one challenge, or one operational context. Every business, broadcaster and producer is facing its own specific and unique challenge – and it means that there is no singular solution.
So, if you – as a client – approach an integrator, and they start talking about solutions before you’ve even presented a problem: doesn’t that tell you something?
How do you pick an expert? How do you even define expertise?
This idea of problems and solutions got us thinking at Video Progetti about the way that systems integrators define their expertise. It tends to be that wherever you look in the field of broadcast and AV technologies, integrators will first and foremost define themselves by their technological expertise.
There can be no doubt that this is of course vital. But we consider technological knowledge to be a mere entry level criteria for an effective integration partner. Of course your chosen integrator partner needs to have relationships with the most progressive, innovative broadcast, AV and IT tech suppliers in the field. And of course they need to know how to deploy that technology and ensure that everything talks to each other seamlessly. We certainly do at Video Progetti.
But how do you know that they are giving you the right solution, rather than the most trendy? Or worse, the one that most suits their own business partner structure the best? How do you know that the integrator isn’t just throwing you a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that they’ve sold to hundreds of clients, without thinking about what makes your business unique?
It seems to us that integrators working in the field of broadcast and AV need to do more to truly understand the ‘whys’ of their technological solutions, and not merely the ‘hows’.
The value of business expertise
At Video Progetti, we think that holding business expertise is as fundamental as holding technological expertise. It can become too easy to focus on concepts of bits and bytes, packet transfer, jitter, resolution wars and then endless debate of IP versus SDI or cloud versus on-premise. But when talking about these things and deciding the best path forward, you aren’t having a debate in a vacuum – you’re asking, what is best for my business? What is best for my network? What is going to prove to be the most usable, reliable and affordable within my operational context? And perhaps – most pressingly – what will help me to deliver a competitive, exceptional service to end users?
This means that when choosing an integrator, you don’t just need one who is ready and willing to ask you these questions, but one who has enough knowledge of the business side of broadcast, AV and IT solutions to help you get to the bottom of these answers.
At Video Progetti, we pride ourselves on the fact that we have this expertise, and we know how to use it. The first step in developing a relationship with a client is sitting down and really listening to their situation. And the second step is using our analytical skills and our thirty years of in-depth knowledge to evaluate the needs of each client, and then deliver solutions which are specifically adapted to their needs: using our products flexibly with a tailored integration approach to create solutions which are specific to the needs of each client, both for their existing operations and their future growth.
To do this requires an understanding of the principles of the broadcast business, and not just the technologies that support it. And it is this real ability to understand the true business context of each and every client – developing a personal relationship with each – that sets us apart at Video Progetti.
The technological trump card
That said – it’s important that we return to the idea of technological expertise. We don’t want to posit the idea that the two types of expertise – technological and business case – are mutually exclusive. Far from it. They are essentially symbiotic. One serves little use without the other. The only point we are trying to make is that all too often integrators are eager to shout about their technological know-how and the cutting-edge technologies they have in their repertoire, and don’t spend enough time conveying to customers how they can guide them in using that technology correctly and effectively and in line with their own specific business context.
Take a practical example. The decision to move your studio to IP. There can be no doubt about the incredible benefits that IP is bringing to the way that both broadcast and AV productions are undertaken. Many people are practically evangelical about IP technologies – and we certainly understand why: it’s scalable, agile and cost predictable in a way that SDI might not be.
But we understand the need to be critical about simply ‘dumping’ a technology like IP on clients without consideration of how they intend to use it. It’s no good being naïve about ‘the latest big technology’ (such as IP) and assuming that it will change the world with no down sides at all. IP can bring complexities that not all clients are in a position to handle effectively – embedded expertise and existing infrastructure may be key considerations for a start. So when (or if) we guide a client toward IP, we don’t do it because it’s the latest and greatest technology, we do it because we recognize there’s a real business case for it. We make sure our recommendations about innovative technologies are right for the client, and not just for the ego of our engineers and suppliers.
Expertise as an evolving concept
Most importantly, when we at Video Progetti offer our expertise to clients – both business case and technological – we recognize that it isn’t a static concept. When the world of broadcast and AV is becoming increasingly fast moving and complex, you need to know that the systems integrators you use are up-to-date, adaptable and completely comfortable in working with the latest innovations and embracing the IT innovations shaping the broadcast industry.
At Video Progetti, we ensure this is true of every one of our integration experts by two central means: firstly, we recruit only those who have a strong foundational understanding of the very premise of broadcast, AV and IT applications. They know the ins and outs, the historical development of the field, and the fundamentals of the technological bases that support it. We make sure that they have fundamental technological knowledge, not only vendor specific training. It is vital to us that those who work for and with us maintain a deep and fundamental understanding of technological concepts in general, and not are not merely slick sales guys who have who have memorized a quick sales pitch and a few key buzzwords.
The second way that we make sure that we can truly deliver on the claim on holding ‘technological expertise’ is by ensuring that our staff engage in regular and ongoing training with each of our vendors and suppliers in addition to technology training that is not vendor-specific. In this way, we ensure that our experts hold knowledge that is up-to-date, relevant, and on the cutting edge of industry developments.
Because we don’t just sell products, we provide solutions – with all the embedded business and technological knowledge that comes with that.
Searching for the right integrator
The essential idea that we want to communicate to you here is that when looking for an integrator to handle your broadcast network evolution, you need to seek out integrators who are as much focused on the business case (the ‘why’) and not just the technology (the how). If they can only communicate the benefit of a particular implementation by talking to you about bits and bytes, they’ve failed the test. Find integrators who start with questions, not solutions – and who can talk about real-world benefits. What benefit will a technology have for your bottom line? Your reliability ratings? Risk management? Customer satisfaction and retention? Ongoing maintenance costs? Future scalability? The ability to deliver on your strategic objectives?
Alternatively, you could just come straight to Video Progetti – where we know the importance of thinking about technology and business as a single and indivisible concept, and have the expertise to back it up.