Yes, We Can All Get Along

What do you get when you throw hundreds of builders, architects, interior designers and electronic systems integrators into a room at an educational conference and tell them to get along? The answer is a rewarding experience, and a better understanding of how to achieve satisfaction, and profits, by working better together.

When an electronic systems integrator — who was presenting a seminar at the first Electronic Lifestyles Forum in February produced by the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association — told a room filled with interior designers and architects that flat-panel TVs need space behind them to vent the heat they produce, I could almost see the light bulbs illuminating above their heads. I could also see the gears turning as they began thinking how they would change plans for their current projects to accommodate this need to vent heat, when they returned to their offices.

The light bulbs lit up again when the electronics integrator said the optimal viewing height for flat-panel TVs is much lower than the height at which most TVs are mounted above fireplaces, and when he mentioned that flat-panel units can be hidden behind framed paintings that can roll up and out of the way.

CEDIA’s objective was to bring these groups together to learn how each operates, and therefore affects the other’s processes, and ultimately how they can achieve success.

The productivity, efficiency and profitability that can be realized by bringing together all parties involved in a new home’s construction early in any project can easily justify the effort of doing so. When collaboration begins early — exactly like in the design/build process — homeowners are happier with the end product, everyone’s photo galleries on their web sites look better, more product is sold and profit is maximized.

Another electronic systems integrator at the forum advised his audience that a minimum 3 percent of a home’s cost should be allocated for technology. Do you allocate at least 3 percent of your clients’ budgets for technology?

The forum’s keynote speaker was Nicholas Negroponte, founder of Wired magazine, a professor at MIT and an expert in digitization, who said several factors will drive digitization in the home. These factors include: more in-home digital production with digital cameras and software; more sharing of electronic files of all kinds; young people growing up in a digital world in which seamless mobility will be demanded; and the current concept of a media center vanishing as media content arrives from many different sources, and will be accessed and distributed through one central server.

Accept these changes, and let your construction partners help you succeed.