Experience Matters: The Hidden Costs of Not Working with a Systems Integrator


By Tyler Berry, Sales Director, Central Region, ASG & Kelly Fox, Strategic Account Executive, ASG

We have all considered the question, “Should I enlist the support of a systems integrator?”, or “When should I enlist a systems integration company?”. This can be met with hesitation by leadership concerned with escalating costs in the face of a finite budget. This is where we’re going to turn that consideration on its head. Let’s discuss the hidden costs of not working with a systems integrator. It can prove very expensive to proceed without a group of focused, seasoned pros by your side. 

The phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes with a mighty price tag. Learning all you need to know to build a studio or other A/V infrastructure can be not only cost-prohibitive but time-exhaustive on your own. We would all love the gift of more time! There’s simply no out-of-the-box method recommended for designing and building the best studio, innovating a facility, conducting a video cloud migration, and… you get the picture. There’s no app to find the solution that meets every client’s individual needs either. 

In systems integration – experience matters. There’s absolutely no substitute for it. We’ve got scars, bumps, and bruises to prove it. As seasoned integrators, we’ve already found unforeseen hurdles in every single project. We have numerous projects going on at any given time and continue cutting our teeth on what works and what doesn’t. We’re not afraid to let a client know before you proceed, what we already know and learned. 

It’s our job to get the full picture and work on behalf of our clients. As one example, manufacturers typically have a pre-established product roadmap for their technology. You may want certain things that aren’t part of that roadmap. But you’re alone in your request, so your concerns may not be met with the urgency you need by the vendor. We push the manufacturer on behalf of our clients and may even troubleshoot and figure some things out before the manufacturer does. We may have already stumbled on the same issue on another project and know how it’s resolved. That’s the benefit of having a partner – from the client and the manufacturer’s perspective.

We’ll take you through 10 of the top points to remember when considering bringing on a systems integrator as a partner on your next project.

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Author Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-hour rule” asserts that mastery in any field is achieved after 10,000 hours of intensive practice. Let’s apply this principle to production, post-production, and A/V systems integration. Professional integrators accumulate countless hours working across a range of facilities, studios, and projects. We’re in many different facilities and studios, working with a variety of people in a diverse range of applications. We’ve already seen what can go wrong so clients don’t have to. Then we document and share that info internally. Staff within a single studio or facility have limited experience due to the specificity of their environment. 

Advanced Systems Group identifies potential problems related to equipment compatibility, signal routing, workflow efficiency, and scalability because of our knowledge from previous projects. Our insights save you time, money, and resources. This collective expertise allows us to fine-tune each aspect of the system, resulting in a streamlined and functional setup. By adhering to the 10,000-hour rule, systems integrators offer clients unparalleled guidance and solutions that stem from years of practical experience.

Purchasing Power

Another compelling reason to collaborate with top A/V systems integration firms lies in our leverage during equipment procurement. Integrators maintain partnerships with various manufacturers, which grants us considerable purchasing power. A single instance of equipment failure or misalignment can result in the loss of future sales to an integrator. Consequently, manufacturers are motivated to ensure that integrators have access to reliable, well-tested equipment. 

Working in isolation may not wield that same purchasing power. Partnering with systems integrators ensures a seamless selection of equipment and a higher likelihood of project success due to the integrator’s established rapport with manufacturers.

Risk Mitigation and Real-World Insight

The risks associated with embarking on a project without expert guidance are substantial. Errors in system design, equipment selection, and project management can lead to costly delays, inadequate functionality, and even project failure. Knowledgeable Systems Integrators possess a holistic understanding of technology ecosystems and can preemptively address potential bottlenecks and challenges.

Because we work with so many video, audio, SaaS, and hardware manufacturers, we continually validate how well technologies work together. SI’s constantly work with different, customized applications. It’s never a one-off project for us. 

Project Management Expertise 

Project Management is a critical facet of successful A/V system integration. Integrators have dedicated project managers who specialize in overseeing complex projects from inception to completion. This experience-driven approach minimizes the risk of miscommunication, scope creep, and project delays. Integrators know how to balance technical requirements, budget limitations, and timeline constraints to deliver a fully functional A/V system on schedule.

When organizations attempt to manage projects on their own, they often face the opportunity cost of redirecting valuable internal resources away from their core competencies. Staff members who are experts in their respective fields may not possess the project management skills necessary for seamless execution. This can lead to sub-optimal results, strained resources, and project failure.

Even under the best circumstances, if the person managing the project doesn’t have the background required, everything can be derailed. 

Job Protection

We’ve all seen very intelligent, high-level decision-makers lose their jobs after a project goes sideways. It’s not always their fault. They may be editors or creative service directors or from other positions that find themselves in charge of something they have not been trained to do. They may not understand the technology or have project management experience. When you don’t know how to approach the work, you can become reactive. You lose precious time throwing things at the wall to see what sticks and putting out fires. Hire the right experts who’ve done this before, and the approach is methodical. With all the right tools already in their arsenal they can apply them in a very timely and cost-effective manner. 

Cost of Missed Work

If you do decide to move forward without any support from an SI or other partner, the person leading the project must get up to speed quickly and learn about all the available solutions. With that comes the cost of not doing their primary job. And if they get it wrong, you’re ultimately paying for that project again. You’re paying for the first time which was wrong, and then you must wait a while, including the time it takes to get a new solution designed and implemented. The total cost? More time. More effort. More money. And potentially upset clients and management. 

Time is wasted between when you first think the solution is not working and when you finally throw in the towel. By the time you decide to bring in help, you’ve spent a lot of money and time trying to make things right. In the worst case – there is no budget left to do it right. 

Opportunity Costs

For broadcasters and networks, we’ve seen cases where someone opts for a solution that doesn’t work within their system, and they miss going to air. Not only do they receive a fine, but they must pay back the advertisers. This represents an opportunity cost because they didn’t select the most effective system in the first place. An SI can see the whole horizon and know ahead of time what will work well together and what won’t. 

Media and Entertainment organizations may also neglect to involve all the right teams initially. If you don’t involve the IT team right off the bat, there may be certain things that your network can’t handle that you’re not aware of. If you bring them in at the end of the project – it’s too late.

A Broad View

A manufacturer sees one piece of the puzzle, while an integrator sees the whole puzzle. And odds are whatever the project is, we have a client who has done that before. Whatever solution an SI selects will be the best one for that particular workflow. We can provide valuable insights, even if we’re not hired for equipment selection, which will speed up the project and keep costs down. 

Available at Any Stage 

An important point to note is that it’s never too late to call in support. Unexpected things are bound to happen, and we’re used to being brought in at different points. Obviously, we’d like to be brought in at the beginning. We think that that is by far the most beneficial. But, if you’re in a pickle and you feel like something is just not working, please reach out.

ASG can help in any facet of an integration project. We can handle design architecture, the build-out, or the equipment purchase. The customer can pick and choose what makes the most sense for their scenario.

Value of a Team

It’s always wise to work with a trusted partner who’s been down the road you’re traveling many times and can point out the potholes along the way. And it’s invaluable to work with someone who has the insight of multiple projects in many different places and who maintains good relationships with their technology partners that need to work together. You don’t have to take this journey alone. We’re happy to stand by your side and offer our expertise and support as we determine the best possible design path for your future.

Ready to discuss how ASG can help you on your next project? Reach out to us.