EDITORS CHOICE 13.09.16

Interview: Vin Bruno, CEO of CEDIA

CEDIA CEO Vin Bruno has been on the job for one year and will see the fruits of some his labor at this week's upcoming CEDIA Expo in Dallas. Bruno talks with HiddenWires about his role in shaping this year's theme and what we should expect on the show floor.

Vin Bruno HeadshotIt has been a year since you became CEDIA CEO. What have you found most challenging about the job coming from the private integration sector?
The challenging part is also the most enjoyable.  In the private sector my career involved technology management for video and audio distribution amplifiers and switchers as well as audio, video and computer cables and connectors plus control systems.  At CEDIA, our world consists of the Home Technology Professionals that deploy everything I was involved in manufacturing plus projectors, displays, lighting controls, motorised shades and drapery, automated door locks and door bells, theatre seats, speakers, amplifiers…  I get to learn about all the technology that delivers outstanding experiences to our clients and I get to work with those exceptional people that are our CEDIA members.

What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of the past year?
That CEDIA has successfully and consistently been driving business and profitability to our members while we have been growing and expanding our industry.  This has resulted in more business to our CEDIA members.  I take great pride in knowing that I assisted a team of CEDIA members in establishing a new business called Rayva. Led by Theo Kalomirakis, David Rodarte, George Walter and Dan Gupta, Ravva was established to invigorate the market for dedicated home theatres.

CEDIA 2016’s call to arms is “Think Big.” What does that mean for CEDIA and the custom integrators attending this year’s show?
Our industry is constantly evolving and attendees at CEDIA 2016 have an unparalleled opportunity to dig in and look at the BIG picture for their company and for the industry. This is the only show that is completely dedicated to our channel and it’s full of thought leaders and industry insiders who want to help drive success for our members. The future of our industry is really BIG so what better way to inspire attendees than to tell them to “Think BIG?”

Charlie Kindel, Amazon’s Director of Alexa Smart Home will deliver a Friday morning keynote. Why was it important to include Amazon, a big consumer brand, at this year’s show?
Voice control is shifting the home technology landscape and quickly! When the opportunity emerged to have Amazon as part of our show we thought this would be a great opportunity for attendees to learn how voice control could be implemented into their businesses.

Where do you see voice control taking custom integrators in terms of their future business development and scope? Outside of the keynote, how are you addressing that on the show floor?
Those who are joining us in Dallas will have no shortage of opportunities to learn about voice control, offerings include a CEDIATalk given by Alex Capecelatro, CEO, Josh.AI, a free panel session, multiple training courses and, of course, the Friday morning keynote.  We also expect to see quite a few of our exhibitors addressing voice control in their new product announcements.

Who are some other newcomers to the CEDIA experience? What do they bring to the table that custom integrators should tap into?
We have entire area of the show floor that is dedicated to those companies that are making their CEDIA debut; it’s rightfully called Innovation Alley. When you think about how CEDIA has grown over the last 27 years, all the “big” guys started in a 10x10 booth. Our industry thrives on new ideas and new energy and getting a chance to talk and collaborate with companies that are bringing something new and different to the table is an opportunity every integrator should take while at the show.

What or who do you expect will steal the show this year? Are there any technology advancements we should keep an eye out for?
I think it’s been pretty well established that voice control really could steal the show this year, the demand is there, and home technology professionals will be the ones delivering end-to-end solutions. That being said you never know what announcements could happen at the show, but following the official CEDIA 2016 hashtag (#CEDIA16) will ensure that you stay on top of all the news that’s hitting at the show.

Training has always been a huge part of CEDIA Expo. What is new this year?
We heard from attendees that it is often hard for them to really dig in with training while the show floor is open, so this year we have training starting on Tuesday. Starting a day early provides us with more time to offer several of our popular full-day workshops.  We are offering 128 training courses and 46 of those courses are new – so there absolutely is something for everyone; from the rookie tech to the industry veteran who has been taking CEDIA courses for twenty years.

You recently delivered a keynote to the Powerhouse Alliance, a custom integration distributor based in the US, where you called for an end to the term “integrator” in favour of the much broader moniker, “technologist”. Why do you think this title change is necessary? How does it benefit integrators?
I think this conversation about technologists really hones in on the pain point that we don’t have a recognised nomenclature like the plumber or the electrician. We need to figure out how to describe our position in the market as the single point of contact for all the technology needs a homeowner has. I am of the mind-set that what we call ourselves needs to be something that a consumer would be looking for. I certainly understand the nuance and we are not discontinuing integrator or home technology professionals. We are open to the conversation and we won’t officially adopt any new naming conventions until the time is right.

CEDIA 2016 hasn’t begun yet, but what do you anticipate for CEDIA 2017 in San Diego? What would you like to see happen a year from now in time for that show?
That our CEDIA Home Technology Professional members embrace the shift evidenced by our market trends and that we become the single point of contact for all our clients’ technology needs.  Whether a homeowner client wants a million-dollar full-blown home automation system or just requires their Sonos system installed, we need to be that single point of contact that delivers the exceptional experience to our clients.  No longer should we have that client making another call to find another service provider.  Shelly Palmer will deliver that message loud and clear at the CEDIA 2016 Keynote.

The challenging part is also the most enjoyable.  In the private sector my career involved technology management for video and audio distribution amplifiers and switchers as well as audio, video and computer cables and connectors plus control systems.  At CEDIA, our world consists of the Home Technology Professionals that deploy everything I was involved in manufacturing plus projectors, displays, lighting controls, motorised shades and drapery, automated door locks and door bells, theatre seats, speakers, amplifiers…  I get to learn about all the technology that delivers outstanding experiences to our clients and I get to work with those exceptional people that are our CEDIA members.

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