28.03.17

Setting the Agenda: Owen Haigh, Lindy

Lindy Sky studios
Lindy products at Sky Studios in Milan

German manufacturer Lindy has been synonymous with cables, but it has now begun to delve deeper into the proAV market. Paul Milligan spoke to its head of global product management Owen Haigh.

"I’ve been in the right place at the right time on a few occasions,” in sport they say you  make your own luck and Owen Haigh must feel a bit like that now he is in proAV. 

Having previously worked at Orange just as the mobile phone explosion happened in the late 1990s, he then went onto work in satellite navigation, just as that stopped being an ‘accessory for walkers climbing the hills’ to something every car must have inside.  He has now been at Lindy for 10 years, a period in which AV/IT convergence has grown exponentially, and Haigh is (rightfully) getting a feeling of déjà vu from his previous roles.

Haigh is head of global product management, responsible for AV and IT products at Lindy, a company headquartered both in the UK and Germany, where the company was founded in Mannheim in 1932. The company has been known since the late 1980s as a cable provider but  as  Haigh  states,  “We  have broadened our horizons in the last 10 years and expanded our range to include converters, splitters, switches and extenders."

In the last 12 months the company has made a concerted effort to push more products directly aimed at AV integrators and consultants.  Why now? And what opportunities did it see in this market?  “We are always going to be known for cables and we’re  proud of  that,”  states Haigh.  “But  we have also been doing  ‘general AV’ hardware products for more than a decade now.  Even prior to that we were offering IT and
network solutions. And it’s our experience in the IT market that is making us look at the proAV market more seriously than ever before. We see real convergence between  AV  and  IT  hardware and connectivity, it seems to us to be too good
an  opportunity  to  miss. We  are in a strong position to bring some good products to market, not just to meet a single requirement, but as a suite of products that work together in a concept we call Combined Connectivity Solutions.

So  for  example, in a typical installation, that might mean an HDMI switch connects to a DVI converter which then connects to a fibre optic extender and so on…”

Does this move into deeper proAV waters mean we will be seeing a Lindy projector or media player? Highly unlikely says Haigh. “There are very strong avenues for those products already.  Our experience and  expertise  is  as  a  provider  of  everything  that
goes in-between a source and a display device.”

Is  the  challenge  for  Lindy  that  integrators/consultants  aren’t  aware  of  the  brand,  or  they know it, but don’t know its full range of proAV products? “The challenge won’t be shaking the moniker of being ‘just’ a cables provider, cables are our DNA, I still think we have work to do to really push on in the proAV industry and that is going to come in the next 12-18 months. If I look at the work we‘ve done already, what we have
planned,  and  our  real  strength  in  technologies such as fibre optic extension. I'm very confident for the future."

At  ISE  Lindy  was  insistent  that  to  grow  its proAV business it was going to send its products in at the high-end segment, but why not go in at the low-to-medium area, where sales are higher? “We are not a box shifter, we don’t want to ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’, says Haigh. “We want to offer products that people find useful, so we offer
support to go alongside that. We don’t leave our buyers to figure it out for themselves, we want to be their partner in delivering AV solutions. The high-end market can deliver incremental business for us, rather than just blurring the edge of what we already did. We could quite happily sit and continue to sell 2 or 4-port HDMI splitters, and
just keep introducing the latest version, but really if we want to grow we have to find a new areas to deliver that growth for us.”

So what will be the products for Lindy that will help it  make an  impact  on  the  proAV  sector in  the  next  few  years?  “As  I  mentioned, the big  focus  for  us  is  fibre-optic  technology,” says  Haigh. “With  fibre  optic we can  apply  it to more complementary technologies. We can use  it  for  HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA  and  USB. It  covers  both  the  requirements  of  the AV market but also it helps us continue to serve the IT market, who have similar requirements in terms of extending high bandwidth signals over long distances. If you look at fibre optic, it’s still seen as a dark art. If you look at the way technologies are moving, it’s the best way to move things forward. If we continue to just rely on copper we are going to hit a bottleneck
sooner or later.”

The bottleneck Haigh refers to is bandwidth, and  this  where  he  feels  Lindy  can  really help integrators and consultants. “It’s quite clear the biggest issue for everybody  will be bandwidth.  

Resolutions and refresh rates are getting bigger, colour depths are increasing. It has reached the point that if you want to work accurately you need to use a 5-metre copper cable, but as soon as you want to go beyond that distance, and let’s face  it, 5-metres  is  a  very,  very  short  distance, you have some real big headaches ahead. Fibre
optic technology is certainly one way of solving that headache.”