October 10, 2020

Why partnering with knowledgeable manufacturers can strengthen bid proposals, integration teams, and project success.

Sports organizations have built new, state-of-the art facilities and renovated existing ones over the past decade with high end video and audio systems to stay competitive and provide the best experience for the audience. AV technology draws crowds, boosts ticket sales, and entertains fans in and out of their seats. The lasting impression goes beyond just watching the game and the result has been a surge of install opportunities for integrators. The complexity and size of these opportunities presents several distinct challenges that must be overcome. From end user roles and needs, to manufacturer expertise and installation logistics, integrators must get in on the ground floor and stay involved to ensure the success of the project.

An integrator’s winning strategy starts at the bid spec stage. Working with the sports organization, consultants will either write a detailed spec for a bid that integrators are obligated to follow to the letter or one that leaves room for interpretation. Serving more as guidelines for the latter, integrators have an opportunity to put their own touch on the project and create an RFP with distinctive value engineering. This is the point early in the game when integrators should identify and partner with knowledgeable manufacturers who have experience in the sports market. They can serve as both expert advisors and great team players.

Once an integrator has won the bid, the next critical step is to identify all the stakeholders in the project and the facility operators, and to bring them in for further needs evaluation. It’s a complex job because there can be any number of players involved who will use and manage the AV systems—game day operations, athletic departments, marketing, IT, food services, security, broadcast production, and more. These users are not always directly involved in the bid spec but are nonetheless vital to the success of the installed system. Experienced manufacturers will know the key participants and will be able to use that experience to maximize the potential of the AV system.

Manufacturers can be counted on to educate users and stakeholders on what features they have access to, their benefits, as well as unearthing other tools that may be required. An IPTV-based digital signage project is a good example of this. A manufacturing partner knows that the marketing department is one of the power users of the system. Because they’re responsible for selling advertising, its critical for them learn how to build, distribute, and track assets with enough time to be successful in their role. In the lead-up to the grand opening for facilities, however, the marketing department’s involvement and training may get overlooked in the scramble to open the doors. The unintended but high-profile result is content being loaded and pushed to the screens in the eleventh hour. In retrospect, a manufacturer who was involved from the start, and knows to be aware of this potential risk, can prevent this all-too-familiar game-day story.

‘Get in early,’ is a well-known phrase for the integration community, but it has many implications. For example, a customer may decide to add video walls to an installation without considering what it will take to make that happen if the construction is already completed, but by then it is much costlier and time consuming. Integrators must go back to the architectural drawings to determine where to install the video wall processor—like drilling through thick concrete walls—and how to hang the screens to meet ADA requirements in a fan-facing area. Most importantly, the longer a customer waits to make critical technology decisions, the greater the chance that funds from the available budget may have been spent on less important assets. Something as unnoticeable as a carpet upgrade can leave no money for fan-facing technology that adds a wow factor and ultimately delights the audience.

Manufacturers are queued up to work hand in hand with integrators from the beginning because they know that integrators often pull together additional manufacturers to deploy a powerful AV solution.  Whether the integrator has a national presence or is a preferred local vendor, the manufacturers value those relationships and have a lot riding on the joint ventures. If a system goes down or doesn’t work as expected, the manufacturer is often the customer’s first point of contact. For this reason, they want to ensure they’ve done everything they can to mitigate any potential problems for the integrator and finish the project with a satisfied customer. The sooner these technology partners begin collaborating, the stronger the team and the more successful the installation.

last edited on: Tuesday, December 22, 2020