Single vendor solutions not always best for end clients – Q&A

Paul Marshall, senior technology consultant at consultancy Recursive, weighs in on the one-stop shop debate and whether manufacturers offering end-to-end solutions is good news. He talks to Tim Kridel.

TK: From what you’re seeing, are AV vendors increasingly offering full product lines of hardware, software and services?


PM: Yes, indeed, some of the big manufacturers want more of the pie, some of whom go out of their way to make sure it is their equipment throughout. Whilst this can be hugely advantageous, the challenge is that this might not always be in the client's best interest.


TK: How does that trend affect integrators and distributors, both positively and negatively? For example, does it make multi-vendor interoperability less of a selling point and more of a challenge? Will integrators lose out if integration skills aren’t in such high demand? Or will there always be a lot of demand for multi-vendor systems?  


PM: Ultimately the world of integration is being simplified as technology becomes smarter, so yes skills are being lost. What we often see is a lack of understanding of basic principles and lateral thinking, though to be fair, there are some amazing integrators/individuals that quickly come to ‘love’ and engage with the aims of the project. The use of so called “rebates,” whilst a commercial reality, often drives equipment selection in the wrong direction for perhaps the wrong reason.  


TK: Do integrators, consultants and distributors compromise by not installing, recommending or stocking certain products because the cost/ease/interoperability arguments of sticking within an ecosystem outweigh the benefits? 


PM: It is always shocking to hear companies talk about their “go-to” product, as in our experience every application is different, so we believe the correct (best-of breed) product should be selected on its merits and application requirements every time. 


TK: Are distributors forced into ditching brands that compete as one of their brands expands its range? 


PM: I would say that in many instances competing brands are often dropped for commercial reasons rather than technical ones, which is unfortunate especially for the smaller manufacturers.


TK: Is there anything pro AV can learn from the IT world regarding ecosystem plays and interoperability? 


PM: Everyone talks about “standards” in the AV industry but almost no one practices true interoperability be it HDBaseT, AVoIP or control. I recently put this to the test with a requirement for two types of AVoIP encoders and decoders to work together, but in reality, the risks and compromises in attempting to do so were too great, which makes the sales pitch of “interoperability” almost pointless. 


Until we are at a point where you can buy model X and get it to work with model Y like you can Dell, HP and Windows, for example, things will not change. But even then, how many updates do Microsoft issue every year to fix bugs!


Image: ankudi/

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