Check out my latest Article: The Unsolved Mysteries of AV Tech Managers

Here is my latest article in AV Technology Magazine:

The Unsolved Mysteries of AV Tech Managers by Christopher Neto.

I recently sat down with two friends for lunch. We are all in the AV business and each of us has spent some time working in the corporate AV support function. As we ordered our food we exchanged updates of “what happened to him” or “where did they end up?”. The conversation would eventually become centered on our corporate AV experiences and some of the issues we encountered. Each of us has a horror story of sorts but I find it odd that through all these years some of these issues are still unsolved mysteries. Fact is some of the most challenging issues facing corporate AV support teams are not technology related or entirely AV related. As you read through this article you will noticed that these issues revolve around ownership of responsibilities, funding and how corporate silos hinder progress.

One of the issues that have remained a problem for as long as I can remember is Room Classifications. This may appear to be an easy topic but for those in the day to day support role this can be a nightmare. Let me try to explain. There are Conference Rooms with Technology, Conference Rooms without Technology, Standalone Video Conference Rooms, Integrated Video Conference rooms and Specialized Rooms such as divisible spaces and Auditoriums. Then there are the subcategories such as Private, Public or Special (More of those Later). The issue at hand is usually who owns the room. The simple answer would be the AV group since we provide the in room support & setup. Where it gets ugly is when something breaks, reaches end of life, renovations, relocations, and Upgrades. All of these issues will require an AV budget. Most AV budgets are centered on maintenance, supplies and consumables such as lamps and cables. When an item breaks this causes a strain on the budget unless you plan for emergencies by setting aside a percentage for those moments. Renovations and Relocations pose their own set of Problems since these mandates usually will come from a group outside of AV or IT. In these instances a groups such as Facilities or Engineering will lead the projects and with that you would assume that the technology would be funded by them. Not necessarily the case, as all three of us can attest. Both Facilities and Engineering will argue why they will not pay for technology. In most instances they may purchase the Mounts, Floor boxes, data and electrical. Again the AV group is asked to help. Like one of my lunch buddies said “After a couple renovations we are scrambling around the site to reset the projectors to a low setting and hope the bulbs last”.

As we continued on with our Lunch and Stories another infamous corporate AV struggle raises its ugly head. The exact quote was “So have any of you solved the Private vs. Public Room dilemma?” Private vs. Public sounds more like a legal battle on Capitol Hill rather than an AV support problem. AV Support team will provide a service regardless if it’s private or public. Where this gets really tangled is when Space Planning and Facilities ask for you to “attend a meeting”. As I previously stated public and private are not a problem from the support side. Where it can become an issue is when a private room “owner” wants an upgrade. The “private” title becomes a gray area of sorts. Since it is “private” the room owner in most companies will fund the upgrade. A side effect of Private room renovations can be non-standard technology entering the company which will cause unplanned issues for the support team. Imagine being the technician who needs to replace a bulb and you discover a new projector & lamp that you don’t have in your immediate supply stock.

By the time dessert comes around we are now knee deep in new Monitor and Projector talk and what the Latest digital connector is this month. As we ordered our coffee and our talk shifted towards “let’s do this again” someone blurts out Digital Signage like it’s a dirty curse word. Let me start by stating that we all love Digital signage and the benefits it can bring to companies. In our experience Digital Signage requires “Top Down buy in”. It starts with a high level request and quickly moves downhill faster than an Olympic skier on ice. Along the way the request flies by the various IT groups that should be part of the decision. Chances are Facilities will not see if until the final person in the chain receives the request to have Monitors installed in areas where there isn’t any infrastructure i.e. outdoor signage.

In an ideal world a Group within IT would receive the request and prepare a team to handle the servers, connectivity and player units. While public/internal Communications would write, approve and develop the content with alongside a graphics group. AV support would assist with the Display maintenance and system display design and qualify the AV vendor’s installation work. But that’s an ideal situation. What we each have seen is various groups owning a piece of the pie but nothing is very clearly defined. User created material is posted, IT does not want to monitor the system, communications only gets involved for major announcements and no one has money for replacement parts or future expansion. So how does AV become the project lead? Simple AV vendors sell Digital signage but most of those sales happen without AV in the room. This is area where AV and IT do not converge. AV will now carry the responsibility to communicate to IT the project and IT will fight AV on Security issues and Bandwidth. Is there a Brightside to digital signage? I’m sure there is but it’s hard to see it during the initial rollout. If the company as a whole embraces the technology and makes a financial investment in the product then there is a very good chance of success.

So what’s the solution? Room Classifications are tough to solve. I guess accepting that there are many types of rooms is the first step and trying to find a single group to own the rooms and its technology would be a vast improvement. The group that makes the most sense would be Facilities but they have been down that road before with PCs and Telephones and those business machines are funded by IT. Maybe IT should own the technology in all Meeting spaces with or without technology since a projector could be used in a non tech room. This topic will continue to be debated for years to come. In Public vs. Private debate we feel it should be treated by corporation the same way a hotel treats its guest rooms. Essentially they are yours for the day, night, week, etc. You can sleep there but it is not your place of residence. It’s private since you own a key but you pay a price to have your bed made and the rooms vacuumed. If the TV does not work a maintenance person will come up to fix or replace the unit. The Hotel concept would also introduce a Hospitality software package and a Front desk to reserve spaces and better manage and control the rooms. The key is that rooms are the property of the corporation and Funding should come from them. The current situation would be like asking the hotel staff each fund a floor. Within months you would find differences just by taking the elevator and stopping on each floor. The best part is that software and solutions exist today that can help. It also helps that Hotels have been in business for years and the model works. Finally Digital Signage just needs a single owner who holds the budget and power to form a committee made up of various team members with the same goal in mind. That goal would be to maintain the existing and future deployments of the system, Develop fresh new content to engage the users, discover additional opportunities to increase the Return on Investment and keep an eye on the ever changing technology on the horizon.

In conclusion Lunch was great and we solved a few corporate issues along the way. I’ll save topics such as room scheduling issues, open space planning and how the “analog” sun is still at high noon instead of setting for some companies for another day.


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Quick Shout: 9 Simple Steps to Building Successful Video Walls

9 Simple Steps to Building Successful Video Walls


9 Simple Steps to Building Successful Video Walls

Sign-up for this free webinar and learn concrete lessons on how to design and execute video walls, a technology increasingly in demand by customers in every vertical market.

Event Date: February 15, 2012

 Start Time: 2:00 pm EDT
 Moderator: Tom LeBlanc, Editor-in-Chief, Commercial Integrator 
Panelist: Michael Ferrer, Senior Manager of Business Development for Solutions Sales, NEC Display Solutions
For More Info Click HERE

Quick Shout: Cisco Live! Virtual (Jan. 31st & Feb 1st)

Cisco Live!


Cisco Live London-Virtual Agenda

Learn more about the content and live engagements being offered during the virtual event taking place in conjunction with Cisco Live London 2012. All attendees are able to access the virtual event content and live engagements. These events are open to all customers and partners.

Click Here for for the Schedule.



Latest Edition of AV Shout! Weekly is out.

Read AV SHOUT Weekly! Audiovisual News ▸ today’s top stories

Quick Shout: CE Pro Presents- How to Sell Luxury High-Performance Video (Free Live Webinar)

Free Live Webinar

January 25, 2012, 2:00pm ET
Duration: 1 hr
Presented by: Jason Knott, Editor-in Chief, CE Pro
Panelists: George Walter, Digital Projection; Brandon Haggard, Dallas Extreme

Check it out & Sign Up  HERE

Quick Shout: Up Coming AV Industry Trainings

Cables To Go - Free Online AV Webinars

  • “Introduction to A/V Connectivity” Thursday, January 26 at 1:00pm EST SIGN UP HERE
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REVOLABS - Announce the launch of their Online Training Courses!

  • Learn more about Revolabs Academy HERE.

AVWeek Episode 24: Two Ton Tim

Back at it again. Check out AVweek Episode 24 by Clicking HERE


Check out my latest article: You’re Hired! How to create a compelling and relevant AV Career Portfolio.

New Article in AV Technology Magazine (Jan. 2012 Edition)

You’re Hired! How to create a compelling (and relevant) AV Career Portfolio by Christopher Neto

As a technology manager you are faced many with challenges on a daily basis. Your day revolves around support, maintenance and scheduling just to name a few. A casualty of the daily workload is your up keep of your technical knowledge. Technology changes quickly but for a technology manager your technology is based around a depreciation schedule set by your procurement department. Unless there is a change in your company leadership chances are that the cutting edge equipment you installed 5 years ago will remain “cutting edge” until your company tell you so. Terms like “Good Enough” and “If ain’t broke…” become very popular when AV budgets are discussed. Slowly your ambitions to work on cutting edge audiovisual systems begin to fade. The harmful side effects of a long depreciation schedule will be your enthusiasm, knowledge and skill set.

A few years back while working onsite as a technology support person I was in a situation where I loved my job but I wanted to advance. The challenge was how to move ahead at a non AV Company that did not have an “AV Path” to follow. To make matters worse chances are your team maybe lumped into facilities & dinning or part of a large IT department that does not respect what you do as anything more than pushing AV Carts. If you’re an outsourced AV support technician from an AV company then you may be in luck. If not then “Welcome to the AV squad!”

Step into my time machine…

Back in the 90’s I was a typical High School Student. Like other schools we watched films in various classes. AV Equipment was delivered to each classroom by the AV Squad. They pushed around the squeaky wheeled carts with TVs and film projectors up and down the halls.  Little did I know that years later I would be a fellow AV Guy writing about the Squad and appreciating their determination to deliver technology to the end-user. I admit that in high school I did not have any interest in AV mainly because I was an Art guy and looked to further pursue Art in college. Once I made my intentions known to my Art Teacher she began to assist me in compiling an Art Portfolio. She explained that my grades and SATs were two-thirds of my college application. As a prospective Art Student I would need to showcase my artwork to college professors by creating an Art portfolio.  Ironically finding my old Art portfolio inspired me to recreate it as a tool to showcase my work today in Audiovisual.

Like most people, I have a traditional resume that I print on nice heavy weight cotton paper with the matching envelopes to stand out from the crowd. Fact is everyone has traditional resumes and a lot of people shop at the local Office Superstore where they too can purchase the nice cotton paper and its matching gear. I began to think back to my High School days and the idea of creating a Portfolio to show my work & accomplishments began to make sense. The portfolio would also help separate me from the crowd and give me documentation to back up my efforts.

Over the next few weeks I began assembling my paperwork and samples. I emailed business contacts, clients, coworkers, college professors and former employers and asked them for reference letters. These letters where to be used as the supporting cast to my work. I scanned through all my emails and grouped all the Thank You emails and awards that I had received. While working on my paperwork I realized that my AV training was not where I wanted it to be.

As I mentioned earlier not working for an AV company had its disadvantages but my company did support the Team’s request to be a part of Infocomm. Through our membership I was able to take online training. As a CTS holder I need to renew my license so training needed to be incorporated into my schedule. I began to enroll in AV courses that were offered by Infocomm and equipment manufacturers. While searching for AV classes online I would occasionally come across online seminars and webcasts which I began to participate during my lunch hour or after work. These online seminars served as a way for me to keep current on trends in the AV industry. What I initially thought was going to be a simple collection of paperwork turned into a weekly routine. This routine still takes place today and I credit it to a lesson learned in Art Class.

Creating an AV portfolio has been a great tool in interviews and year-end reviews. Your updates will help you build a case as to why you should be considered for promotion by providing documented proof of your accomplishments. A lot of other factors come into play when you’re looking to move up but having documented accomplishments is major plus on your side. Your Portfolio will help remind to keep your training, certifications and references current, but most of all it will keep you focused on the goal you set out to accomplish. It’s your career and your drive will fuel how far you want to take it. Please do not sit back and wait for something to happen. Seek out opportunities to better yourself through training and hard work. It may not happen overnight but it will help you help establish credibility, distinguish you from the masses and puts an exclamation point your Resume’s objective statement.

Here is the Checklist to help you organize your AV Career Portfolio

  • Start by organizing your documents. I purchased a binder at an art supply shop that photographers use to show their 8×10 pictures.
  • Created an objective or mission statement specific to your goal separate from your resume.
  • Update your traditional resume with solid descriptions of your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Expand your resume by adding new sections to your resume
    • - Associations: Infocomm, NSCA, CEA, PMI etc.
    • Certifications: Manufactures, Association, Continuing education etc.
    • AV Training, Online Classes & Seminars
    • Relevant Coursework such as IT training & College Classes.
  • Create a Skills section
    • AV Skills – For example soldering, ability to wire racks  or worked on specialized systems
    • Languages – List your languages and your fluency
    • Computer skills. – List out PC programs or specialized training that you may have.
  • Certifications
    • Scan your original certificates and Diplomas and add them to your Portfolio
  • References
    • This is a key part of your portfolio and will give the interviewer something that they would normally have to hunt down themselves
    • Save All Thank you emails you receive and add them.
    • Ask your coworkers, customers and past employers for reference letters that emphasize your strong points such as tech knowledge, organizational skills, Multi-tasking, etc.
  • Work Samples
    • Include pictures of your work. Visuals are a huge part of building a portfolio and the big differentiator from a resume.
    • Document any published work or interviews and include copies of the articles.
    • Create a list of Projects and your involvement in the projects.
  • Optional
    • Adding a Volunteer section will help show your involvement in the community along with additional leadership skills.
    • Metrics – Companies love numbers & value add.


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AVWeek Episode 15: Tim Killed Laserdisk

I was a guest on the AVWeek Weekly Podcast! Click HERE to listen.

First Post is Ready: Reinventing My Role as the “AV Guy” by Christopher Neto from AV Technology Online

My 1st Blog post: Reinventing My Role as the “AV Guy” by Christopher Neto as it appeared on AV Technology Online. Click the link below to see the original post and let me know what you think.

Reinventing My Role as the “AV Guy” by Christopher Neto

This summer, I was informed that my position was eliminated. And, with that, six years at a Fortune 500 company ended in a matter of minutes. In an instant I was a statistic and a product of today’s economy. Though I have always considered myself to be in the AV industry, the realization of being the “AV guy” in a non AV company came crashing down on me harder than a stack of VHS tapes.

Prior to my six-year stay with my previous employer I moved around like many others in our industry. Every time I entered a new opportunity it was to take on a new or different role. At the core was my AV background, mixed with a splash telecom and a hint of IT. This mixed bag of tricks has helped me craft a resume that is diverse and unique. The skills I have picked up along the way have helped me craft a resume that is rooted in Education but spirals into all facets of the AV world. I have been an install tech, inside sales, major accounts manager, project manager, and inside tech for a large company. Each opportunity has provided me with a skill set and lessons learned to move to the next position.

My college degree is a communications major with a concentration in broadcast and radio from William Paterson University. My college coursework provided me with an opportunity to work hands-on in a studio setting on campus. During my junior year, I was fortunate to land a technology internship with the NY Giants football team. While most internship involved photocopies and coffee runs, I got a chance to work hands-on with the technology team. I learned very important skills that I could not learn in the classroom.

Fast-forward 12 years. As I review my resume I can now see that I am considered an experienced professional who has been building a resume from various roles and opportunities. I have added various certifications to my resume that includes InfoComm CTS certification. I also have a host of certifications from various manufactures Crestron, Extron, Clearone, Chief, Revolabs, and Tandberg. What may set me apart are the certifications I perused while working at a larger non AV company as an AV technology specialist. Those certifications include Six Sigma training (streamlining processes) and its associated Yellow Belt Dale Carnegie training (customer interaction), and formal classroom training in project management.

This past summer I was faced with a situation in which rumors of corporate restructuring were circulating. Unlike many people who buried their head in the sand I would like to think I was proactive. Approximately 10-12 months before the rumors even started I began to read up on social media. I made a decision to invest some time into social media as a way to begin reach out my small network of contacts. I decided to create a LinkedIn account was a good way to get my resume online. I created it with very little knowledge of the site and where I could take this. I worked on it daily, slowly at first, but I chipped away every day at. I made it a priority to spend some time and connect with former coworkers, friends and hopefully make new contacts along the way. I began tweeting to the #AVtweeps on Twitter daily. #AVtweeps is the hashtag used in twitter by audiovisual professionals. So what started as an online resume eventually developed into a social media plan that now included networking and micro-blogging.

Within a few months I connected with AV Helpdesk (AVH) via the InfoComm job site and Linkedin. I responded to an opportunity that lead to conversations about AV technology and the state of the industry. Social media came into the conversation when we discussed our common contacts on LinkedIn. Not only did we connect with common contacts we also had many of the same ideas of how to improve on existing services and technology. It was obvious to me that AVH was a good fit.

Here’s my advice for folks reinventing themselves or just staying relevant: Create your online presence and work to develop a social media plan. Did it work for me? You can be the judge. In the meantime, I have interesting technology to design and customers who want it.

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