Psst! Here’s the worst kept secret in our industry: We are surrounded by AV everywhere we go. AV is at the mall, at the movies, at the stadium, and even in people’s homes; yet most people don’t give a second thought as to why they are enjoying great sound and video at any given moment. Why? Because AV suffers from an identity crisis; we are everywhere yet nowhere.

We’re not seen as the cool kids with the cool toys, when really we are! We get to work with the newest technologies like iPads, iPhones and have our own cool toys like powered loudspeakers and wireless touch panels. Yet, you ask a 20-something engineering or marketing student if they know about the AV industry and most will give you the mile-long stare.

Here’s where AV Week (October 17-23, 2010) comes in. AV Week is an initiative by InfoComm to raise awareness about our industry. This isn’t one of those made-up holidays like Baked Salmon Appreciation Day. It’s a week where all of us can pitch in to raise the awareness that AV has a big impact on the world.

Yes, the recession has been hard for many and a long stretch of bad tidings for all. Immediate needs come first – like payroll and invoice payments and ever-changing net terms – so why on earth should anyone take time away from revenue generation to volunteer for AV Week? AV Week is all about the future, and this is why you have to pay attention.

1) We’re getting old.
What is our median age? I have no idea. But if I had to take a guess, we’re north of the 45 year old mark. That’s not a good sign for an industry as vibrant as AV. We need some new blood ASAP before we all end up designing AV systems from our corner room in the nursing home.

2) This next generation is digital natives; we are merely visitors.
One of my favorite annual lists is the Beloit College Mindset list that is published to give their professors and staff some perspective on the incoming freshman class. This year’s class has:

  • Never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
  • Always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
  • Always known flat screen televisions.
  • Always known cordless phones.

This younger brood knows technology because it’s in their veins. What we think of as innovative seems intuitive to them. We can only benefit from the way they see technology.

3) “Outsiders” give new perspective.
We tell war stories to keep ourselves wrapped in a security blanket. We slap each other on the back and say “Oh, well when I worked at XYZ Corp with Rob and Bill, we used to blah blah blah….” Telling war stories is fun and builds credibility, but it also creates an insider versus outsider paradigm.

Some of the things I love about the close-knit AV community are also its weak points. We aren’t exactly the most welcoming group of people all the time. Someone new entering the industry may find it difficult to create new experiences with you if they’re constantly hearing what a great time you had when you worked with everyone else.

4) The world is flat.
The U.S. doesn’t have the lock on AV design and installation; far from it. Our industry has an international reach. Investing some time in educating people about the AV industry can literally have an impact across the globe.

5) Because small efforts can make a big difference.

Imagine if each one of us took the time to tell one person about the AV industry. The ripple effect on that effort would be gigantic. My plan is to reach out to at least one person a day, starting with family members who, after ten years, still don’t understand what industry I work in.

Several companies are focusing efforts on AV Week, including AVI-SPL, Listen Technologies, and Crestron. You can also click here to see what others are saying about AV Week on Twitter.

So, what are your plans for AV Week? Drop me a line and let me know.