The global audio-visual (AV) industry is developing and expanding with rapid growth globally. This growth coincides with every industry using audio-visual products and services because of the advancements in technology. As the use of AV technology spans multiple industries like, education institutes, advertising agencies, government organizations, and event management companies, these are being marked as the major users of AV equipment.
Another factor that is driving the growth of this industry is an increase in demand for media and entertainment content. The outbreak of COVID-19 allowed AV solutions to shift into online communication and broadcasting systems with enhanced and smart AV solutions.
While the growth is promising, AV industries are facing four major challenges:
- Shortage of skilled labor for AV installation
- Software application for development
- High costs of operation in AV projects
- Miscommunication during projects
With these challenges, task execution was difficult, and it created an urge towards implementation of efficient solutions for the AV companies. This is where Automated Systems Design came into the picture with its magnificent services, which established it as a lucrative company in the audio-visual industry.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Michael Castiglione, COO of Automated Systems Design, sheds light on the company’s journey in the audio-visual solutions space. Below are the highlights of the interview.
Please brief our audience about Automated Systems Design, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in the audio-visual solutions niche.
Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, Automated System Design (ASD®) is a design, engineering, and project management firm. We specialize in supporting low voltage technology throughout its lifecycle from conception through completion. These services are coupled with our nationwide footprint and allow clients to have a single point of contact to support all systems across an enterprise.
Our mission is to help our clients create, manage, and support technology-enabled spaces. More than that, we keep their people safe and assets secure. We enable teams to collaborate free from constraint and create environments that allow individuals to focus without distraction. We make sure meetings start and finish without tech support, and we help communicate the client’s brand to all who enter their space.
ASD® (Authorized ASD® Installers, pronounced “as-dee”) operates nationwide. To do so, we rely on the AASDI network. This network consists of 12,000+ vetted and rated technicians that enable project managers to find the best talent for the job, even in remote locations or when niche certifications are required. We use a proprietary, cloud-based project management platform called OMNI to manage this network. Through the Omni mobile app, technicians in the field can check-in/out of a site, submit deliverables, and get signoffs. This streamlines the project process and provides clients with a more cost-effective and pleasant experience.
Shed some light on your solutions and how these impact the industry and your clients?
People’s expectations for service providers continue to grow, but it boils down to one thing; “they want the experience to be as painless as possible.” Unfortunately, projects can quickly become complex and cumbersome for the clients with multiple stakeholders, scopes, and often multiple locations.
ASD® focuses on bridging the gap that exists between facilities, IT, and the construction team. Our project managers, with an average of 16 years of experience, are used to juggling these multiple stakeholders and delivering a solution that meets all their needs. We perform audio-visual, low voltage, and security projects for large single-site construction projects and multi-site rollouts. Having a single vendor that can handle multiple scopes nationwide makes the clients’ lives easier. Not only does it alleviate some of their workloads, but they can expect consistent results significantly over time. These repeatable and reliable experiences are the reason why many clients have been with ASD® for years.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on what impact has the adoption of modern technologies had on the audio-visual solutions space and what more could be expected in the future?
As consumer products have become smarter and more affordable, there is an expectation for simpler and more user-friendly devices in the commercial environment. This has challenged traditional AV manufacturers to adapt and open the door to new suppliers. We will have expectations for more intelligence in the workplace technology that we use, and it should be more reliable. The manufacturers need to make them flexible from a software development perspective as APIs will be required to integrate building systems with workplace technology.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive Automated Systems Design to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
The safety of our employees, technicians, and clients is our top concern. We knew that clear communication was the key to navigating during those unprecedented times. As our employees began working remotely, we implemented daily team huddles and leveraged our technical toolset to increase internal communication.
Luckily, the systems we already had in place – Omni and the mobile app – were designed to facilitate clear and quick communication with our PMs and technicians in the field.
Additionally, our business model is designed to be agile and dynamic. Our AASDI network makes it easy to scale our labor pool up and down as needed. This means we didn’t have teams sitting on the bench when work slowed or got canceled altogether. And as sites reopened, we were able to quickly ramp up operations to meet our client’s requirements.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the audio-visual solutions market?
Do your research, write a good business plan, and hustle. This business is ready for the next generation of disrupters. And be prepared to pivot.
How do you envision scaling Automated Systems Design’s operations and offerings in the future?
ASD continues to work on automating its systems to drive efficiencies. Streamlining these processes will reduce touchpoints which in turn minimizes room for errors and accelerates project timelines. As we continue to scale the business, the development of leadership is also a priority. Getting strong and experienced leaders who are experts in their realm is key to running successful divisions that continue to grow.
These two initiatives align with one of our core success principles: to invest in people and technology. We believe focusing on these critical areas will help us to propel the business forward and accelerate its success.
What is your opinion on the future of the audio-visual solutions industry concerning changing customer preferences due to the pandemic?
Before the pandemic, most of our AV systems were for the standard conference or huddle room. We saw some larger group meeting spaces and multi-function rooms as well, but they were a smaller percentage of the space. This trend seemed to be due to the smaller group format meetings.
For example, the whole organization was not piling into one room for a company meeting. They were meeting as smaller groups (sales, marketing, operations) in smaller rooms and then all joining the same meeting. So, the shift to smaller spaces and joining a combined video conference had already started. The pandemic shifted almost all participants to their home office, requiring them to join individually in that remote environment.
Now, the workforce is returning to the office. This has ushered in the need for new and more flexible spaces, referred to as the ‘Hybrid Workspace’. That means that the collaborative meetings will be a combination of people in the room and remote participants. There are several things your AV needs to have to support the Hybrid Workspace.
- Seamless user interface. Gone are the days of complicated touch panels and control systems. You still need them, but the user interface needs to look and feel like what you use every day. If you need an instruction manual to use the system, you’ll get low participation and room usage. The industry has figured this out. Most major control system manufacturers have linked up with conferencing software companies. They offer a variety of easy-to-use solutions that don’t require an AV expert to use them. Most of them look very similar to the familiar software on your computer and phone.
- Solid video. The video doesn’t have to be super high resolution or the perfect shot. But you need a clear picture of the participants and a solid network connection to ensure it doesn’t glitch or lag.
- Crystal clear audio. This is even more important than the video. It’s probably the most important aspect of the system. You need to be able to understand everyone in the meeting. That counts for both in-room and remote participants. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to understand what everyone is saying. We encourage our clients to purchase the right audio solution based on the room size to ensure excellent audio quality.
- Flexibility. These spaces are seeing a variety of user devices and software. The AV needs to be flexible and straightforward at the same time. Your organization may have a standard device and software, but what about clients or vendor partners? Your system needs to support wired and wireless connections as well as different conferencing software solutions. Have the default connections and software ready to go but have alternate options available.
- Scheduling. Scheduling became even more critical in the hybrid workspace. The collaboration rooms need to have a scheduler running on the display outside the room and be linked to an online calendar. This allows local and remote participants to see the room availability and book accordingly.
The AV industry has always been quick to grow and evolve, and the pandemic merely accelerated these changes. We can’t wait to see what clients will be expecting in the future.
About the leader
Michael Castiglione joined the company in 2006 as an intern in Automated Systems Design’s North Carolina location. He quickly became a Sr. Account Manager, leading deployments for some of ASD®’s largest clients. In 2011, Michael was promoted to manage the deployment Services group. During this time, he managed the conversion to the company’s proprietary cloud-based system ‘Omni’.
In January 2014, Michael relocated to Georgia to lead the growth of the sales and operations team in the company’s Alpharetta, GA headquarters. In 2019 he was promoted to be the Chief Operating Officer.
Today, he is responsible for executing the strategic plans. His oversight includes the ongoing development of ASD®’s industry-leading technology platform and the day-to-day operations and organizational development.