Q&A: Consultant Grzegorz Augustyn on training in AV

AV consultant Grzegorz Augustyn has worked to promote education in AV and multimedia within his native country, Poland. Tim Kridel asks him about training and certification.

TK: What are some trends in pro AV training, certification and professional development? For example, as AV products get more complex, are vendors requiring integrators to have more training than in the past in order to properly sell and support them?

GA: Yes, there is a high demand for educated integrators as they and their vendors understand the expertise and knowledge level which gives better advantage on the market in product support and service and installation. However access to the certification is still limited in native language, so most integrators base on their experience, exchanging knowledge, self-education or vendor product training which gives manufacturer certificate but not general technology certificate.

TK: Is the AV industry as a whole doing enough when it comes to training, certification and professional development? If not, what are some gaps that should be filled? And who should be filling those gaps? Individual vendors on their own? Or should it be an industry effort led by organizations such as InfoComm?

GA: I think the AV industry is getting better, but there is still lot of things to do. I mean from the local point of view. During the manufacturer trainings there is always a great knowledge transferred to the integrators but - which is obvious and expected - focused mostly on the products and the reason for their existence and manufacturing. Unfortunately there is no time usually to cover general foundations and some comprehensive but not manufacturer oriented technology knowledge.

So, there are two ways of getting it - in the field, on site - or finding someone who is able to do a course of such deep knowledge like InfoComm does or CEDIA. But there should be a kind of pro university which can develop training course on certain technology path. It also concerns such areas like IT, security and automation which also the areas closely related now to AV integrators.

TK: In your experience, do enterprises and other clients understand and value AV certifications such as CTS? In other words, are they critical for helping integrators and consultants win projects?

GA: In Poland? Not really. It is not yet recognised enough. However, you can always try to educate your customer. If you can use this certification as the proof that you are skilled, it is good for you. But usually when you are at that point, they already know that you know what you are talking about. When you have international corporate customers (which is not very common here as they use global partners) it is helpful and can bring you a deal, or at least you are invited to bid and recognised as a specialist.

TK: In your experience, do enterprises and other clients prefer AV integrators and consultants who have IT certifications such as CCNA? In other words, are they critical for helping integrators and consultants win projects? Or are clients typically more focused on AV expertise even when some or all of that equipment will piggyback on their IT network?

GA: This is difficult to justify clearly. I think, and based on my experience, this helps. Especially that - according what I have said above - the IT area is involved very much in AV.

However, here in Poland there is still divided between IT integrator and AV integrator. In this case, IT certifications can help understanding and co-operation between these two areas of technology to develop very good solution. So it also helps the customer to choose good companies.

TK: Anything else?

GA: We do not have much time during our daily responsibilities but knowledge and certification should be developed to the countries in their local native languages. Unfortunately Europe speaks a variety of languages so the English is much more common. I think that associations should standardise and make it accessible for everyone and have their ambassadors who are able to promote and grant certification or at least supervise the way for each company.

It is good that you can see among vendors and manufacturers how many people they have with CTS or similar qualifications. It creates respect but first of all they should care about their integrators and they should be encouraged to take certification courses.

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