Amazon was literally everywhere at the convention center this year in San Diego. Every flag, every banner, every class, and every single training offered was sponsored by Amazon. Last year, Charlie Kindel’s keynote was “We come in peace”, and this year Sarah Zenz’s keynote was “We will give you business”.
In April 2017, I wrote in an article: “The clock is ticking, CES, CEDIA, and ISE shows will soon be renamed: “The International Shows of GAFA Partners”. Damn! One of my prediction is about to come true. Things are moving so fast, I can’t imagine what could be the next step for Amazon - maybe they will just buy CEDIA!
Here and there we could hear some say: “Amazon just saved our industry”. Clearly, if we do not understand what’s going on here and refuse to change, then yes, we are in danger. Open history books and you’ll find hundreds of industrial revolutions stories and how heroes of yesterday fell from their thrones, to be replaced by simple ideas that fulfill the needs of their time. To be honest, even if I am as proud as a peacock with Josh AI’s outstanding project, I am quite vexed that none of “us” has been able to deliver something like Echo before Amazon. How is it that a guy who, not so long ago was selling books out of his garage, yet was able to understand and deliver what people wanted? Because we are much too focused on ourselves and on what excites us: Watts, pixels, screen sizes, Subwoofers, HDR… So far, the only solution we could think about to protect our holly margin is to go deeper into conservatism: We created brands and gears no consumer ever heard about with outdated technologies and we make it available only our channel. Brilliant! We sell the technology we want, with the margin we want, where people expect an experience, comfort, peace of mind, service, and availability. We screw up due to our self-centeredness and lack of vision. Let’s learn a lesson here and do better next time. Never the less, we are still an incredibly talented and experienced workforce. Today the GAFA gives us a second chance and it is rare enough to salute it because not a lot of industries in the history had a second chance.
Sorry guys but the more I think about it, the more I realize our industry need more women involved because they are much more focused on experience rather than technology. This is something the GAFA understood long time ago.
While every other GAFA tries to exist with their “me too” voice assistant, Amazon is way ahead. So, I can’t help to ask myself this question: Why is Amazon is so interested with our little CEDIA association? Now don’t get me wrong. CEDIA is super cool and I’m proud to be part of it. However, with less than 4,000 members around the world, CEDIA’s impact on the overall business of Amazon is and will stay insignificant for a long time. On top of that, Amazon already has its own installer team and partnership with the construction industry. At short term, I can only see a benefit for CEDIA in this partnership. So, what the heck does Amazon have in mind at long term? We will wait until Expo 2018. In the meantime, let’s do business with this new joker in the deck of cards.
The reaction of the people regarding this CEDIA/Amazon partnership has been very interesting. Let’s say that 45% just don’t realize what’s happening here. They just can’t process the information as this is such a revolutionary moment to grasp in a short time. When they walk the show floor next year, they’ll probably think they came into the wrong convention center. The other 45% feels offended - even if they don’t want to admit it. They were the “Super high-end AV guys” and now they have Amazon all in their face! God damn it! The same company that created the most advanced voice assistant in the world, now dares to sell it in Whole Food Market, next to the cauliflower and cucumber… This is not good publicity for them, they think. And then you have the creative and flexible 10% that just gets what is really happening here. People like Joe Whitaker, Kris Gamble, Richard Berrie, JJ Canon, Peter Friesen and a handful of others. If you ever talk with any of them for 10 minutes, they’ll boost your mojo for a year. They certainly are the next millionaires of this industry.
During this CEDIA, we were being able to see that our industry has moved forward faster in the last 12 months than the last 12 years! Once again, the clock is ticking and all cards in the deck are about to be shuffled and dealt anew. The winners of last year could be the losers of next year. After this CEDIA Expo, all Home Technology Professionals will have to take important decisions and upgrade their business model. In a way, CEDIA & Amazon already given us several examples of what to do: Think Big and partnership!
- If I was still a Home Technology Professional, I would do it like Amazon. I’ll knock on the door of all local small and medium-sized construction companies. People expect “Connected Houses” and, apart Lennar, no construction companies really have a clue about how to fulfil their client’s expectation. Before they choose someone else or decide to do it themselves no matter how, go to meet them! You are the perfect partner and exactly when they need it.
- I would also partner with my local competitors, because as soon as the business starts to grow, it would be better to work together than to fight amongst ourselves. We all have complementary skills, and if you start to work with the construction industry, you will never be enough to serve the market.
- Delegate as many tasks as possible that you do not have 100% mastered. Just as CEDIA sold its show to a specialist so they can focus on their primary mission, you can also delegate all cabling and network stuff. Network-configuration is now more than ever a job for specialists. Just ask Hagai Feiner or Larry Allhands, they’ll tell you what you are missing and the legal responsibilities you carry on your shoulders when you try to make a little money by doing it yourself.
- Take advantage of connected devices, use remote supervision (ihiji, Krika, Domotz, OVRC, Pakedge…). I’m still speechless to meet Home Technology professional in 2017 that do not use remote supervision on any single job.
- Finally, I must preach for his parish: Delegate your first line of support to third-party companies like OneVision Resources, Axius, or Krika Concierge. Your clients already expect a certain level of service and availability from a Home Technology Professional. With this craze about connected stuff, they’ll expect even more availability now.
It’s all about what will make you different from your competitors, what level of service you want to provide to your clients, and how you want to improve your own business and quality of life.