Setting the Agenda: Owen Haigh, Lindy
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.”