As a residential integrator, you are faced with a challenge not unlike the classic game show "Let’s Make a Deal."
It’s a fact: The residential network is rapidly becoming the backbone of virtually every low-voltage subsystem in the home. What was once used just for printer sharing and low-stakes Internet access is now handling voice, data, entertainment, surveillance, medical sensors, Telepresence, system control, and more.
So as a decision-maker, you have three choices:
Door #1 – Subcontract with an IT company that is experienced in designing and configuring robust networks which are capable of full-blown multitasking. Be prepared to get them up to speed on what your requirements are. Our systems have some pretty unique characteristics, and you will need to “train” them to work in your space.
Door #2 – Hire someone with all the IT training, credentials, and experience needed to do the job. Make them a team member and show them exactly what needs to be done. As with the subcontractor, you will be teaching them all about servers, cameras, streaming media, and most importantly, control, then looking to them to sort out how the network must function to make it all work efficiently and dependably.
Door #3 – Invest in the training and certification of your own best people. They know the business. They know the equipment. They know what clients expect. But they need to know a LOT more about the network: how it must be designed, installed, and configured to support the wide range of tasks we are asking of it.
The good news is that IP is not some “double-secret” proprietary language only available to a select few special people, or an ever-changing technology that is always a moving target and impossible to keep up with. Internet Protocol is a well-established and versatile language, used the same way by everyone, consistent around the world, and taught in a variety of ways to all kinds of people.
Take a look around, and it is immediately clear that training can be had at career centers, tech schools, and community colleges. You can choose to learn from books or online in a number of ways.
CEDIA has aggressively expanded its training at EXPO, but nobody can become an expert in a few days. The journey to networking expertise can start with CEDIA classes or can be greatly enhanced by them. But it must be a year-round undertaking, and should include a lot of good old-fashioned hands-on experience.
The question is, which door will you choose? Depending on your business model, one of them will be the best fit for the short term, and perhaps another one more appropriate over time. But make no mistake – now is the time to pick a “door” and select a course of action. If you are not embracing the network by now, it may be too late!
About Jeff Gardner
CEDIA Director of Technical Training since 2007. Past experience includes system design and installation, acoustical consulting, recording studio design, live and studio engineer/producer. CEDIA, ISF, HAA and other credentials.