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The AC-MXNET-1G-EV2 represents the next step forward on the evolutionary path of the MXNet Platform encompassing an industry-first, holistically integrated approach to AV over IP video distribution fr
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Why Cedia Plays an Important Role for Today's Custom Integrator
Posted on Monday, August 29, 2022

Aug. 29, 2022 - Custom electronics sales and installation have given rise to a worldwide technology melting pot, albeit a closed circle of sorts, comprised of integration companies from as small as solo entrepreneurs braving it alone, to some firms with offices across multiple continents. Perhaps separated only by language, an unwitting common thread loosely binds the aspirations of one and all: A universal desire to highlight technology as purposeful, yet fun, to people who initially are strangers, then convert this business relationship into an ongoing friendship prior to the conclusion of the process.

Custom integration companies represent an atomically microscopic business community relative to other industries such as medicine, banking, or restaurants.  Who speaks out in representation for the interests of this diminutive but highly passionate industry? What provides resonance when jeopardizing matters arise?

For 33 years CEDIA, the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association, has been the collective voice for custom integrators, not only for members, but by default, the industry et al. The perennial saying, "A rising tide lifts all boats", is acutely applicable here…if you or your company are not a member, indirectly you occasionally benefit from CEDIA's endeavors, especially those legislative. 

The 2022 CEDIA Expo starts (with education classes) Sept. 28th and continues through October 1, 2022. 

Following is a bit of background into the organization's beginnings, CEDIA's global standards and certifications, the Tech Council's peek into and assessment of the channel's possible end of the decade strategies, plus a gentle nudge to attend the EXPO and renew or become a CEDIA member.  

BEGINNINGS

In 1989, a small group of professionals, individually successful with geographically independent but high profile companies, realized a need for unified representation inside an electronics industry exploding exponentially with growth, despite its inability to recognize the self-peril that was evolving.

A weekend was planned to jointly assemble - part chance taking, part hunch making – to assess the then current state of industry affairs, suggest possible improvements, express what they felt their own businesses lacked or required, how they might aid others from their own experiences and lastly but most importantly, how to christen the businesses many created as hobbyists into becoming a legitimately recognized industry.

MULTI-ROOM GROWS UP

During that era, house-wide distributed audio began to come of age, eclipsing simple, passive, manual speaker selector boxes in favor of more sophisticated solutions, such as Bang & Olufsen's Masterlink.

That following year, 1990, marked the first CEDIA expo held, with Sony attending to exhibit their new Digital Signal Transfer (DST) system, which remarkably one-upped the single-audio-source-to-every-location solution. DST distributed up to 6 audio sources, plus two video sources, into as many as 16 separately controlled zones. The custom integration industry witnessed a monumental paradigm shift, in real-time. Instantly, the CI roadmap was manifestly changed, as was CEDIA's emerging stature as industry liaison with Sony, perhaps the most relevant manufacturer for the channel at the time, joining CEDIA and introducing a key relationship aspect by establishing a technical support division for CEDIA members called the Consumer Integrated Systems (CIS) Group. 

Through the 90's and early 2000's, the broader consumer electronics business morphed into big-box chains engaged in turf wars (which regionally and ultimately, led one or more players to head for the exits) positioning the consumer as a front row spectator with every Sunday newspaper flyer.

While this conflagration persisted, the CEDIA channel grew infinitely stronger, with brands such as Sony ES and Pioneer Elite courting CEDIA members who possessed the proper skills and expertise to demonstrate high performance models, while sibling products remained poorly represented and savagely discounted by big-box names you regionally may all recall.

For various reasons, a few ambitious, yet ingenious manufacturers that made a valiant splash to enter the CEDIA channel made equally dubious retreats. Does anyone else remember Frox and the FroxSystem? Their hefty, aluminum, wireless joystick air-mouse deftly oozed ‘state-of-the-art' in a universe of black plastic remotes with endless buttons. To my recollection, Frox elbowed out Phillips to be  first with Improved Definition TV (IDTV), at least in the United States.

During this period the custom industry profoundly flourished, as major independent specialty stores (and chains) added installation services, with many opening separate, and in some instances stand-alone, custom divisions. System design consolidated one-room control into singular remotes such as the Phillips Pronto, thus luring AMX and Crestron into the CEDIA space for multi-room on steroids. Channel-specific manufacturers frequently timed new product introductions for the EXPO, reflecting CEDIA's attained prominence.   

EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION

Initially, CEDIA instruction consisted of inherent technology and product-specific training by manufacturers, taking full advantage of EXPO gatherings. But a large percentage of the courses were also presented by CEDIA member dealers as principals, or talented ahead-of-the-curve key company members, shared experiences and their expertise with custom installation community attendees.

Much of the focus was sales-based, with the six-figure big-hitters pontificating on how elite sales were executed, to aspirants hanging onto every syllable. Eventually, the emphasis began to slowly turn to properly and safely installing these complex systems.   

Today a copious amount of CEDIA instruction is provided internally by the organization, with a laser-like focus on certification, perhaps now the core mission of the association. More to that point, on July 12, 2022, CEDIA announced that the Integrated Systems Technician (IST) certification earned third-party accreditation certification in accordance with the global ISO/IEC 17024:2012, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

The IST certification joins the Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) Technician certification as CEDIA's second ISO/IEC 17024-accredited standard. Together, these two certifications represent a globally recognized career path for residential technology technicians and integrators. The conformance process was overseen by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB), a wholly owned subsidiary of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Globally recognized, these certifications, when earned by residential technology integrators, represent hallmark career achievements. All CEDIA members working in these disciplines should embrace certification professionally and personally. ISO accreditation has the potential to create massive change in not just the how the CI industry is recognized but also valued. No other means exists to distinguish a highly skilled integration company from those who are not.

 

 

 

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