The big “C” change!

For 100 years, even if they had different purposes, shapes, sizes, colors, or number of seats, all cars drive the same way. Thanks to the standardization of essential features, some worldwide regulations, and a common agreement between the automobile industries, you can jump into any brand or any model of car and be able to take your kids to school within 30 seconds of adaptation. This is a mature industry where all manufacturers and governments work together on the security and the comfort of end-users before everything else. Although I’m quite sure that Ford or Audi have developed a better turn signal lever, but it will end this user interface we are used to, create confusion, and put people in danger and under stress.  They will worry, “Will I be able to drive my car?” Why is it so important for the automobile industry? Because if a car fails, then peoples’ lives may be in jeopardy.

For 20 years, our AV and Home Automation industry was all about custom design and custom installation. Olympic Games of Customization with ceremonies and awards... And for 20 years, a lot of our client has been asking themselves: “Will I be able to drive home?” The result is that each time a guest comes to the house, it’s easier to take them by the hand to the restroom rather to explain to them what button to push between twenty on the lavish home automation wall plate. Now we are facing a time where a house can be dangerous if people don’t know how to use it. Can you imagine if someone must come to you rescue and can’t turn on the light? Will you rent you house on Air B&B if the Home Automation system is not understandable by the masses? How can end-users sleep well at night thinking that there is only one “Custom Installer” in the entire world that knows how to repair or program your house? It seems like a lot of the systems we have in our CEDIA industry has been designed to entrap people to milk them.

But things change, and our industry is about to reach the same level of maturity as the car industry. Last week I was talking with JJ Canon and Pete Friesen of Digital Delight and we decided all together: What the heck will be left to “customize” in a few years? Good question, isn’t it? You see, the GAFA are providing a standardized user experience based on not very customizable mobile or tablet apps as well as a lot of voice control. Therefore, if you know how to use Homekit in your house, you’ll be able to use it in any house without the need of anyone to explain you. At the very least it is a form of technology that is truly beneficial to end-users by making things simple, affordable, and safe. I’m terribly frustrated it didn’t came from our CEDIA channel…but that’s another story.

The acronym “CI” for “Custom Installer” will become irrelevant in time as we will not “Customize” anymore. Of course, we will install speakers in the ceiling, and put TV on walls, but is it really “Customization”? Does the electrician call itself a “Custom Electrical blah blah blah” because he installs fixtures on the ceiling? No. He is doing his own thing without fanfare (and provides service and maintenance to the client, by the way). It’s time to deflate our big head and understand that we’re maturing, and we are just a profession like many other in the global “construction industry,” (admitting that will be the highest level of maturity for us).

So, what will “C” for custom become? Well, I tell you, it will exchange “Customer” or “Client” instead. As a matter a fact, our industry is forced to be more Customer-centric now more than ever. In exception to the 1% of professionals that deal with the wealthiest clients that can afford exotic systems, for the vast majority of “Custom Installers” in the world, it’s time to forget about the word “Custom.” Our industry has a great challenge to take on and it’s a total volte-face of our business model. As incredible as it seems we are going to make more money on service than on boxes.

Money is there, don’t worry, people are going to spend a lot on IOT, AV, and Home Automation. We just need to stop thinking in terms of “Customization”, and start think about what our “Customers” will need now there is a whole new type of DIY and DIFY GAFA products. For the moment, customers want guidance, they want installation, they want 24/7 support, they want you to be proactive, and they want a premium relationship with human being. They want you, and you have much more value than the margin you could make on any box. I say, “for the moment” because in the next 10 years we are going to face a transition era where people will still need help. But then what? When today’s 5-year-old kids will be 15… I know that I’m going to open the Gates of Hell by saying this, but: stop being a “Custom Installer” and start being a “Home Technology Professional” today!

This article has been published in Technology Insider Group

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