Brand Focus: CEDIA EMEA's Chairman Kris Hogg

Kris Hogg, Chairman of CEDIA EMEA, will tell you himself that his approach to business is both pragmatic and no-nonsense.

Kris-Hogg-281x400 An integrator that moved from installing Sun Microsystems in the early ‘00s to stepping into custom integration by using his home as a test bed, Hogg is a familiar and respected figure in our industry. As both CEDIA EMEA chairman and Founder and Director of UK-based integration firm Konnectiv, he is also recognised as a leading expert on home technology and home automation systems—a role he visibly relishes and uses to present global events concerning custom integration’s evolving role in the residential space. With the rebranding of CEDIA earlier this year, Hogg speaks to HiddenWires about the organisation’s wider plans to continue supporting its members worldwide with new training programmes, the ratification of standards, and expanded partnerships with other relevant industries.

Who does CEDIA represent?
CEDIA represents those individuals or companies involved in the installation and design of smart home technology systems into residential spaces.  I’m tired of hearing people describe us as “the Home Cinema Association”. This simply isn’t true any more; we are so much more than that.

It’s true we started life as the home cinema and AV guys, but our industry quickly evolved into delivering all the other elements that make up a modern home and the many different types of members we have reflect this variety – from people, like me, who are more in the affordable smart home sector through to the highest of high-end homes and super-yachts; CEDIA is relevant to all of us.

I see our job as giving the industry access to the right tools and training which will allow our members to grow successful businesses within a stable market place. And, that’s not just the integrators, but the trade suppliers as well.

What is the thinking behind the rebrand?
Times change and CEDIA was changing too, and quickly. But, to the outside world, we still looked the same. We knew we needed to re-vitalise our image. The process started, not with the logo, that’s just the outward appearance, but with extensive research into who CEDIA is, what our members need, and, most importantly, what the customers of our members’ need.

As part of that process, we also looked at the old CEDIA branding and what that stood for. We asked a section of both the industry and consumers about the brand personality behind the logo and the result was, to be honest, a little disturbing. We, therefore, knew that we needed a new brand identity.

So please, don’t just think the re-brand is all about the logo, it is a strategy and over the coming months you will see the new products and services to support this strategy that will make CEDIA even more relevant to both members and consumers alike.

It has been my perception that CEDIA EMEA and CEDIA US are separate entities, though has branding and standards across the board. How is CEDIA pitching itself as a unified global CI organisation?
You are right, there are two CEDIA offices, HQ in the USA and the EMEA office. These are operational entities that enable us to work at a granular level in both territories. However, CEDIA is one global entity. The brand has always been universally respected around the world and regardless of where our members are based, CEDIA has relevance.

Both offices (and volunteers) develop products and services as a team to ensure continuity in our offerings and a relevance to the membership, no matter where they are based in the world. Our education is a classic example of this approach. Many of the courses we offer are the same around the world and have been developed with international input and collaboration.

As the industry is at different stages in its evolution in different countries, our members face slightly different challenges and needs depending on where they are. We have to be able to deliver exactly what the members in those countries need and this we do well.

With the exponential growth in the market of IoT devices, we are seeing a rapidly evolving global market that is converging much more quickly. As part of the re-brand strategy we are now set to be far more relevant and effective in all countries, but especially in those where the learning curve is much more intense than perhaps it is in Europe or the US.

What is CEDIA’s growth strategy?
It is two-fold. First of all, we have a strategic plan in place for how individual countries evolve the CEDIA membership. We’ve proven this strategy works well in countries like India and South Africa where we have seen exponential growth. However, it is my personal belief that we focus on ensuring that the training, benefits and relevance of CEDIA to both the industry and the specifier/consumer market space is so good, being a member will be an essential part of your tool kit.

Secondly, we cannot ignore the relevance of other industries converging into what was the AV market. We are seeing an influx of companies from the IT, security and electrical contracting industries entering the market space, and the market sector is changing as a result.

Irrespective of a member’s background, it is critical that everyone has access to the skills and training to enable them to offer a professionally designed, fully integrated solution for the homeowner.

It’s by welcoming all comers to the industry, offering these critical industry insights and training that we grow the market and protect the reputation of the industry as a whole. We are already seeing some developers not installing home automation systems because of bad experiences and I feel that protecting the reputation of our industry is paramount to ensuring that what we do is an essential part of the construction industry.

How is CEDIA education supporting its EMEA members outside of the UK?
The educational needs of our members vary from country to country, but CEDIA’s educational syllabus is a global entity. We have modules that start at the most fundamental basic level and progress through to very detailed, advanced specialisations. This year alone, the EMEA region has held training courses in more than eight countries, often in more than one location. As well as the face-to-face training (which still has huge relevance) we have 100 on-line online resources as self-paced training online that are available globally (both technical and business), some of which is offered in local language. We have plans to develop this content further. In addition, we have translated and produced specific white papers in four languages and have our CPD programme certified in a number of countries.

How does CEDIA engage its members in driving industry initiatives?
This is a tricky one. CEDIA membership isn’t a “must do” and we do rely on members to be engaged and encourage them to the best of our ability. It’s a constant source of puzzlement to me how I can have a conversation with a member who doesn’t use any of the benefits open to them.

Communication of the initiatives is the key to our success in this area. Through the CEDIA connect events, conferences and training across the world, we take the opportunity to talk to the members and remind them of how many benefits CEDIA has made available to them.

We are lucky that we also have some great volunteers and evangelists that help us in this task. One of the most utilised (and tangible) benefits is the CPD programme, whereby CEDIA gives its members access to delivering training appropriate to architects and specifiers. I’d encourage all members to get involved with this programme.

The biggest amazement is that barely any of us impress on a client how important using a CEDIA member is. If we all start adding this into a proposal, just think how consumer recognition of CEDIA will grow. Consumer awareness is something we constantly strive to achieve, but we would be so much more effective if all our members worked with us on this.

What is CEDIA doing to set standards and increase recognition for the industry
So, having talked about how important it is for members to help drive recognition, I hear a lot of “what’s CEDIA going to do for me?”. Whilst my answer is “it’s a two-way street”, lets face it, I got involved because I thought I could make a difference, and I also believed that CEDIA has to do stuff to really drive the industry.

This we have done. We released our Smart Home wiring guidelines in 2012 and this year we started the process of having that ratified as a British Standard, which, once completed, will lead to a European Standard. We will build on that platform with other standards, such as, the architectural icons which was released earlier this year.

In the UK, we are also in the process of turning some of our certifications into recognised qualifications. This will enable us to then take our education into the colleges in the UK and start producing qualified CEDIA qualified engineers. This enables us to start delivering capable and trained people into our members, and I know that one of the biggest issues our members face is finding qualified staff.

The first step on this journey is to be accredited by City and Guilds, which has just completed. City & Guilds is the governing body for training, recognised both in the UK and internationally. As the global leader in skills and development, the body offers young people the opportunity to take a range of high quality C&G qualifications and also awards accreditations for bespoke training programmes from external providers. The external qualification programme spans 26 countries and is an instantly recognisable mark of quality and credibility, acknowledging the process and delivery of a tailored training programme.

Now, those who complete CEDIA’s Smart Home Technician or Smart Home Designer programme will be awarded a joint CEDIA and C&G Smart Home Technician certificate and will become accredited within this sector.

In addition we are working with other key associations such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology to produce standards and Code of Practice. These two initiatives will allow us to establish our market as a recognised industry at governmental level and start the process of driving enforceable standards, something we need to establish in the longer term. I accept this is only in the UK right now, but it forms the road map for each and every country CEDIA has members.


Llanor Alleyne is the Editor of HiddenWires. You can find her on twitter: @Llanortech.