After two years of delays, members of the HTSA finally had a chance to get together in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A few hundred integrators and vendors met to collaborate, educate themselves and network over the four-day-long event. According to Jon Robbins, executive director of the HTSA, collaboration has been key across these group and particularly in this event.
“Everybody’s excited,” said Robbins in an interview with Connected Design. “We watch numbers and trends, and if this January and February are harbingers of 2022, it’s going to be a very successful year.”
The keynote speaker was not your average conference talk. Mike Wimmer is a prodigy who last year graduated from high school and college in the same week, at the age of 12. He has an affinity for technology and robotics and has founded two tech companies. In addition, he has been recruited by the U.S. military to work on special operations and how tech can solve global issues.
Wimmer encouraged attendees to focus their efforts on the younger generation. While he might be one of a kind, there are many young people on robotics teams or in STEM programs who would be perfect fits for integration companies in the future but don’t know how to start. He also told members to think outside the box in hiring, innovating and growing.
“It’s important to never loose you imagination,” said the teenager.
Tackling Challenges Together
Other impactful talks of the day included the current economic outlook and supply chain issues. Hank Smith of the Haverford Trust Company delved into what caused the supply chain slowdown. It’s a deeply layered problem caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, the pandemic of course and increased demand.
“The supply chain problem is here,” said Robbins. “Our members in some areas are going to adjust how they purchase.”
The tips that Keith James of Crestron and Keith Esterly of the HTSA offered were to learn how to stay ahead of the curve. Ensure there is an 18-month minimum forecast in your supply chain, and yet anticipate your forecast to be wrong. The best method is to cover yourself in your contracts and be upfront with the client about potential delays.
Esterly also commented about the continued work in relationship science the HTSA is investing in. Esterly heads new initiative developing custom education and team development programs for member company employees, including those in sales and management and is working to optimize the experiences HTSA members have at events and year round in their businesses.
“They brought me on board because we wanted to stake a claim on education,” said Esterly. “Education is the key to transforming integrators. I look forward to improving the relationship experience, the selling skills and the client experience members have, and we’re going to move into management too. We want [our members] to be the greatest managers anyone has ever had. It starts with the people and we look forward to supporting them.”
Exciting Trends in Integration
The biggest topics on everyone’s mind included content delivery, products like the new 90-in. 4K OLED from LG and new solutions for outdoor living. Robbins was particularly pushing the point about understanding how to offer streaming to clients. Consumers want curated content and offering that to them instead of letting them figure it out on their own can be another method of revenue.
Currently most HDR content includes feature films, episodic television, games and concerts, local news and weather and finally live sports, which the experts believe will be evolving most this year.
“We’re excited about understanding streaming and content delivery,” said Esterly. “It’s important to our members to understand what to offer to clients. We think it enhances our categories.”