News & Edge-Wise

March 21, 2017

Edge-Wise: Getting a Word in on Industry Dynamics and Trends

Streamlined Planning—A Focused Approach

By John Stiernberg, Principal Consultant

Where Is Your Company Headed?

Here’s a frequently asked question: “With things changing so much, so rapidly, and beyond our control, why bother to plan?” This article addresses that question.

Our industry is growing and changing at the same time. The global technological, sociopolitical, and economic situations add to the volatility and uncertainty. There are multiple future scenarios, some complex and challenging, some exciting, all elusive and unproven.

As an entrepreneur, executive, or manager, do you know where your company is headed? What will your business look like one, two, or three years from now? In our practice, we ask clients and colleagues to answer this very question in an effort to narrow the focus and plan for action. While there are no right or wrong answers, answering those questions are fundamental to narrowing the focus and streamlining the planning process.

Each company and person answers differently and from a unique perspective. A big competitive threat to one person may be an exciting opportunity to another. This is one of the things that keep our job simultaneously intriguing and challenging.

Benefits vs. Consequences

In Stiernberg Consulting’s previous white papers and articles, we have often focused on the benefits of planning. For example, companies with written plans can 1) measure success more accurately, 2) attract and retain better people, 3) outpace competitors, and 4) make more money. Those benefits (among others) provide rational justification for both strategic and tactical planning.

But in today’s global marketplace (the real world), those benefits sound elusive, idealistic, even textbook-ish. You may rightly ask, “So what? Why do any kind of planning when technology and market factors make the plans useless as soon as they are complete?”

This is a valid question. We decided to explore the other side of the same coin. What’s at stake? What are the consequences of not planning?

Potential Risks of Insufficient Planning

Here are examples of consequences when planning is left to chance. Which ones resonate with you?

  1. Competitors come to market with better products (goods, services, or both) and deliver them faster.

  1. The brand loses market share and cachet to competitors, some of which are arguably less qualified, and customers (whether end-users or channel partners) gradually switch loyalty to a competitor’s brand.
     
  2. Investors, banks, or other financial stakeholders pull back, don’t understand your good potential, or worse, refuse to do business altogether.

  1. Operating costs rise unexpectedly and migrate out of control.

  1. Every new project, program, or deal feels like the team is starting from scratch, leaving better opportunities incomplete or abandoned.

Too Much vs. Too Little vs. None at All

Some planning is better than none, and the streamlined planning process addresses uncertainties and risks with sharper focus.

So how much planning is the right amount? Here are three scenarios to avoid.

  1. Too much planning. This leads to the proverbial “analysis paralysis” and terminal inaction.

  1. Too little planning. The annual “business plan” is nothing more than a budget (prepared by the financial department) combined with a short list of affordable tactical initiatives. Too often these plans are based on a template that was developed long ago and may no longer be relevant.

  1. No planning at all. Most companies have a general ledger and a system to sell and collect the money. That’s not a plan. In addition to its annual budget, every company needs an actionable sales forecast, product roadmap, customer relations strategy, hiring timeline, promotional campaign, or all of the above.

The Streamlined Planning Approach

Here are five suggestions for doing better work and offering better products—driven by a streamlined approach. Spoiler alert: All five involve at least some planning vs. none.

  1. Set concrete business objectives and do this first. Objectives are specific, measurable, and achievable. Objectives also include the non-financial-yet-measurable elements of your plan that specify the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of the decisions that you and your company make. This is the essence of both strategic (long-term) and tactical (this year’s budget) planning.  

  1. Build your company’s objectives and action plans around a set of verifiable data. Be sure that you and your team actually believe the data. Is it from a reliable source? Do the numbers and trend information make sense in the harsh light of market realities?

  1. Compare today’s company initiatives with last year’s. With change being a constant, a decision that you made a year ago may no longer be valid. Get an outside perspective. Run the numbers one more time. Trust your mind as well as your gut. Make your plan a living, breathing document—not just a one-time effort to get a higher line of credit (or whatever last year’s business development scenario was).

  1. Know what happens at the point of sale. Decision-makers’ criteria have changed and continue to evolve. Understand how end-users and channel partners are now making buying decisions. Know where and how they get information that forms the basis for those decisions.

  1. Understand applications, not just features. In addition to product features and specs, know how the end-users are going to use and benefit from what you and your extended team provide. Note: “What you provide” is also changing rapidly and ranges from traditional hardware and software to now-essential pre-sale consultation, clear upgrade paths, and the end-customer’s feeling of confidence that “I bought the right thing.”

Start Now

We encourage you to start now with streamlined planning before your customers decide to look seriously at the many alternatives facing them.

And a word of encouragement: How many of your competitors have a head start or edge on you? Likely there are relatively few. All the more reason to get going!

About Stiernberg’s Edge-Wise Series

Our industry (entertainment technology, music products, and AV/IT systems) is changing rapidly and growing slowly. While business is better than a few years ago, there is more competition than ever before. You need a competitive edge. The team at Stiernberg Consulting has designed this series of quick thoughts on industry issues and dynamics to support your own good sense. Whether you are a manufacturer, equity investor, distributor, dealer, rep, or technical design firm, this series aims to spark new thinking to optimize sales, profits, and growth of your business. We cut through the clutter and point you to ways to build your competitive edge, grounded in common sense wisdom. Sometimes irreverent, always timely, Stiernberg’s Edge-Wise is published periodically.

August 08, 2016

Capital Summit @CEDIA EXPO 2016 Announced

Intrepid Investment Bankers and Stiernberg Consulting Present Powerhouse Panel Covering Emerging Trends, Investment and M&A Opportunities in the Custom Installation Sector

Los Angeles, CA - August 8, 2016... 
Intrepid Investment Bankers, a leading middle-market investment bank and an active M&A advisor in the Consumer Electronics sector, and Stiernberg Consulting, a consulting firm providing business development services in planning, market intelligence, and M&A advisory, today announced an exceptional group of speakers for the third annual Capital Summit @CEDIA EXPO.
 
Attendees will hear thought-provoking, targeted insight and commentary from a panel of prominent CEDIA members and C-level executives on pertinent industry issues, including:

  • What investors look for in a company
  • How to find qualified investors
  • The Dos and Don'ts of presenting your opportunity to investors
  • The problem with investing in our industry, and how to solve it
  • Examples of successful mergers and acquisitions in our industry
  • How to get started if you don't have an exit strategy

Our distinguished group of panelists and presenters include:

  • Jeremy Burkhardt, CEO, Origin Acoustics,a leading high-end developer of innovative architectural speakers and related technologies.
  • John Heyman, CEO, SnapAV, a manufacturer and exclusive distributor of installation-friendly audio, video and CCTV products to residential and commercial A/V integrators.
  • Tom Jacoby, CEO and Chairman of AVAD Distribution, the distribution leader to the premium system integrator market in North America.
  • Jamie Siminoff, CEO and Chief Inventor of Ring, the groundbreaking doorbell for the smartphone which has raised $100 million from Kleiner Perkins, Sir Richard Branson and other high profile investors.
  • Jim Young, Director of Corporate Development at LEGRAND, a designer and manufacturer of electrical and digital building infrastructure products utilized for power, light, and data applications.


When: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, 2:30-5:15 p.m. 
Where: The Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, Room C155 - Dallas, Texas

 
Registered Capital Summit attendees will have full access to the annual keynote, networking reception and exhibit floor. For a complete schedule, click here. To register for the event, click here.
 
For more information contact Gary Rabishaw at 310-478-9000 or GRabishaw@IntrepidIB.com, or John Stiernberg at 818-784-8618 or John@Stiernberg.com.
 
Media contacts:
Andreea Popa
Director of Marketing & Communications, Intrepid Investment Bankers
T 310-478-9000
APopa@IntrepidIB.com
 
Daniel Keller
CEO, Get It In Writing
T 562-201-2429
Daniel@getitinwriting.net


###  

February 01, 2016

New Speakers Added to Capital Summit @ ISE 2016

MediaBridge Capital Advisors and Stiernberg Consulting Present 2nd Annual Event

Amsterdam - February 2016...

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) has announced the addition of two new panel members for the upcoming Capital Summit @ ISE 2016. Presented in partnership with MediaBridge Capital Advisors and Stiernberg Consulting, the event takes place Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 2:30 PM-6:00 PM at the Amsterdam RAI.
 
The Second Annual ISE Capital Summit brings together AV/IT industry entrepreneurs and executives with financial professionals and business experts from the world of investments, mergers, and acquisitions. New panel members Axel Coustere, Partner at The Hub Exchange, and David Leverett, Director, Global Strategy at Harman International, along with Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President, Entertainment and Corporate at Barco; Hans Swinnen, Chairman Board of Directors at Audioprof Group International; Brian Woodland, Senior Director of Business Development at Shure Incorporated; and Neil MacTaggart, Director at Media Asset Capital, in a discussion co-moderated by John Bowen of MediaBridge Capital Advisors and John Stiernberg of Stiernberg Consulting.
 
The panel will cover a range of topics including:
 
*    What investors look for in a company
*    How to find qualified investors and alliance partners
*    Do's and don'ts of presenting your opportunity to investors
*    The problem with investing in our industry and how to solve it
*    Examples of successful mergers and acquisitions in our industry
*    How to get started if you do not have an exit strategy
 
Stiernberg Consulting President John Stiernberg remarked, "The first Capital Summit at ISE last year was a solid success. The panel members represented a fascinating and relevant mix of strategic, financial, and hybrid investors, each with unique perspectives on the AV/IT industry. This year's event promises to be even more dynamic, with a new panel providing a fresh and current perspective on the rapidly changing dynamics of mergers, acquisitions, and investments in our industry."
 
Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. The registration fee of € 49 includes admission to the Capital Summit, the networking reception, and exhibit pass for the full Integrated Systems Europe exposition. Immediately following the interactive audience/panel question and answer session, there will be a networking session for all Capital Summit attendees including drinks and refreshments.
 
For a complete schedule and registration details, please visit: https://www.iseurope.org/capital-summit
 
Contacts:
 
For ISE:
Joe Hosken jhosken@iseurope.org
https://www.iseurope.org
 
For Media Asset Capital:
Neil MacTaggart nmactaggart@media-asset-capital.com
http://www.mediaassetcapital.com
 
For MediaBridge Capital Advisors:
John Bowen John@mediabridgecap.com
http://mediabridgecap.com
 
For Stiernberg Consulting:
John Stiernberg john@stiernberg.com
http://www.stiernberg.com

###  

January 18, 2016

ISE Presents Capital Summit @ ISE 2016

Joins with MediaBridge Capital Advisors and Stiernberg Consulting for 2nd Annual Event

Amsterdam - January 2016...

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) has announced that it is once again joining with MediaBridge Capital Advisors and Stiernberg Consulting to present The Capital Summit @ ISE 2016. The event takes place Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 2:30 PM-6:00 PM at the Amsterdam RAI.
 
The Second Annual ISE Capital Summit brings together AV/IT industry entrepreneurs and executives with financial professionals and business experts from the world of investments, mergers, and acquisitions. In a discussion co-moderated by John Bowen of MediaBridge Capital Advisors and John Stiernberg of Stiernberg Consulting, attendees will hear from a panel of leading European financial experts, equity funds, and strategic investors. Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.
 
The panel will cover a range of topics including:
*    What investors look for in a company
*    How to find qualified investors and alliance partners
*    Do's and don'ts of presenting your opportunity to investors
*    The problem with investing in our industry and how to solve it
*    Examples of successful mergers and acquisitions in our industry
*    How to get started if you do not have an exit strategy
 
Stiernberg Consulting President John Stiernberg remarked, "The first Capital Summit at ISE last year was a solid success. The panel members represented a fascinating and relevant mix of strategic, financial, and hybrid investors, each with unique perspectives on the AV/IT industry. This year's event promises to be even more dynamic, with a new panel providing a fresh and current perspective on the rapidly changing dynamics of mergers, acquisitions, and investments in our industry."
 
This year's panel includes:

Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President, Entertainment and Corporate at Barco

Hans Swinnen, Chairman Board of Directors at Audioprof Group International

Brian Woodland, Senior Director of Business Development at Shure Incorporated

Neil MacTaggart, Director at Media Asset Capital

The registration fee of € 49 includes admission to the Capital Summit, the networking reception, and exhibit pass for the full Integrated Systems Europe exposition. Immediately following the interactive audience/panel question and answer session, there will be a networking session for all Capital Summit attendees including drinks and refreshments.

 
For a complete schedule and registration details, please visit: https://www.iseurope.org/capital-summit
 
Contacts:
 
For ISE:
Joe Hosken jhosken@iseurope.org
https://www.iseurope.org
 
For Media Asset Capital:
Neil MacTaggart nmactaggart@media-asset-capital.com
http://www.mediaassetcapital.com
 
For MediaBridge Capital Advisors:
John Bowen John@mediabridgecap.com
http://mediabridgecap.com
 
For Stiernberg Consulting:
John Stiernberg john@stiernberg.com
http://www.stiernberg.com

###  

October 02, 2015

CEDIA Capital Summit Grows as Deadline to Register Looms

Intrepid Investment Bankers and Stiernberg Consulting Partner to Present Expanded Panel  at CEDIA EXPO 2015, a Global Audio, Video and Home Technology Tradeshow
 
Los Angeles, CA - October 2, 2015... 

Deadlines are fast approaching for registration to attend the second annual CEDIA Capital Summit, presented by Intrepid Investment Bankers, a leading middle-market investment bank and an active M&A advisor in the Consumer Electronics sector, and Stiernberg Consulting, a consulting firm providing business development services in planning, market intelligence, and M&A advisory.

As interest in the summit has grown, organizers have announced the addition of Kevin Duffy to the distinguished panel. Mr. Duffy is President of Sound United and its holding company, DEI Holdings. Sound United brands include Polk, Definitive, and BOOM. Before joining DEI, Kevin worked for ThinkTank Holdings LLC, a private investment firm located in Southern California. He has also held executive positions at at Clarion Corporation of America, as well as consulting with Bain & Company and Deloitte & Touché. 

Duffy joins an illustrious group of panelists and presenters including:

  • Paul Jacobs, President and CEO,Klipsch Group, Inc., designer, manufacturer and distributor of loudspeakers for audio, multi-media and home theater products for consumer and professional applications. Mr. Jacobs is also a 2014 inductee into the Dealerscope Hall of Fame.
  • LeGrand Lewis, Chairman, weBoost, Inc. (formerly known as Wilson Electronics), designer and manufacturer of products that provide unparalleled cellular connectivity solutions for the car, home, workplace and machine-to-machine connections. Mr. Lewis is also Managing Director of Sorenson Capital, a Utah-based middle-market private equity firm that was founded in 2003.
  • Itai Ben-Gal, CEO and Co-Founder, On Controls, a premier cloud-enabled automation system for professional integrators and winner of the 2014 CES Control Product of the Year. Mr. Ben-Gal is also a member of the Consumer Electronics Association Home and Technology Board.
  • Gary Rabishaw, Managing Director and Head of Consumer & Professional Electronics practice, Intrepid Investment Bankers, a specialty investment bank that provides M&A, capital raising and strategic advisory services to middle-market companies across various industry sectors. 
  • John Stiernberg, President and Founder, Stiernberg Consulting, a firm providing business development services in three primary areas: Planning, Market Intelligence, and M&A advisory work.
  • Adam Abramowitz, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Consumer & Professional Electronics, Intrepid Investment Bankers.

Attendees will hear from the panel on pertinent industry issues, such as:

  • How is the growing connected home trend driving investment in the sector?
  • How are companies being valued in the current market?
  • How are traditional CEDIA players repositioning themselves in a changing marketplace?
  • What emerging technologies are on the radar for investment?
  • Lessons learned in owning, operating, buying and selling companies in the industry. 

When: Wednesday, Oct. 14 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Where: The Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, Room C140 - Dallas, Texas
 
Registered Capital Summit attendees will have full access to the annual keynote, networking reception and exhibit floor. For a complete schedule, click here. To register for the event, click here.
 
For more information contact Gary Rabishaw at 310-478-9000 or GRabishaw@IntrepidIB.com, or John Stiernberg at 818-784-8618 or John@Stiernberg.com.
 
Media contacts:
Andreea Popa
Director of Marketing & Communications, Intrepid Investment Bankers
T 310-478-9000
APopa@IntrepidIB.com
 
Daniel Keller
CEO, Get It In Writing
T 562-201-2429
Daniel@getitinwriting.net

###

September 09, 2015

CEDIA Capital Summit 2015 Announced

Emerging Trends, Investment and M&A Opportunities in the Custom Installation Sector

Intrepid Investment Bankers and Stiernberg Consulting Partner to Present The CEDIA Capital Summit 2015, a Global Audio, Video and Home Technology Tradeshow
 
Los Angeles, CA - September 9, 2015... 

Intrepid Investment Bankers, a leading middle-market investment bank and an active M&A advisor in the Consumer Electronics sector, and Stiernberg Consulting, a consulting firm providing business development services in planning, market intelligence, and M&A advisory, today announced that they will co-host the second annual Capital Summit @CEDIA EXPO.
 
Attendees will hear from a panel that includes private equity firms, prominent CEDIA members and C-level executives on pertinent industry issues, such as:

  • How is the growing connected home trend driving investment in the sector?
  • How are companies being valued in the current market?
  • How are traditional CEDIA players repositioning themselves in a changing marketplace?
  • What emerging technologies are on the radar for investment?
  • Lessons learned in owning, operating, buying and selling companies in the industry. 

Our distinguished group of panelists and presenters include:

  • Paul Jacobs, President and CEO,Klipsch Group, Inc., designer, manufacturer and distributor of loudspeakers for audio, multi-media and home theater products for consumer and professional applications. Mr. Jacobs is also a 2014 inductee into the Dealerscope Hall of Fame.
  • LeGrand Lewis, Chairman, weBoost, Inc. (formerly known as Wilson Electronics), designer and manufacturer of products that provide unparalleled cellular connectivity solutions for the car, home, workplace and machine-to-machine connections. Mr. Lewis is also Managing Director of Sorenson Capital, a Utah-based middle-market private equity firm that was founded in 2003.
  • Itai Ben-Gal, CEO and Co-Founder, On Controls, a premier cloud-enabled automation system for professional integrators and winner of the 2014 CES Control Product of the Year. Mr. Ben-Gal is also a member of the Consumer Electronics Association Home and Technology Board.
  • Gary Rabishaw, Managing Director and Head of Consumer & Professional Electronics practice, Intrepid Investment Bankers, a specialty investment bank that provides M&A, capital raising and strategic advisory services to middle-market companies across various industry sectors. 
  • John Stiernberg, President and Founder, Stiernberg Consulting, a firm providing business development services in three primary areas: Planning, Market Intelligence, and M&A advisory work.
  • Adam Abramowitz, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Consumer & Professional Electronics, Intrepid Investment Bankers.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 14 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Where: The Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, Room C140 - Dallas, Texas

 
Registered Capital Summit attendees will have full access to the annual keynote, networking reception and exhibit floor. For a complete schedule, click here. To register for the event, click here.
 
For more information contact Gary Rabishaw at 310-478-9000 or GRabishaw@IntrepidIB.com, or John Stiernberg at 818-784-8618 or John@Stiernberg.com.
 
Media contacts:
Andreea Popa
Director of Marketing & Communications, Intrepid Investment Bankers
T 310-478-9000
APopa@IntrepidIB.com
 
Daniel Keller
CEO, Get It In Writing
T 562-201-2429
Daniel@getitinwriting.net
 

###

May 15, 2015

Stiernberg Consulting Honors Yesenia Martinez For 20 Years Of Service - Veteran Team Member In Key Role

Sherman Oaks, CA - May 07, 2015... 

Yesenia Martinez

Stiernberg Consulting, the leading business development firm to the entertainment technology, music products, and AV/IT systems industries, announces the promotion of 20-year team member Yesenia Martinez to the position of Office Coordinator and Research Assistant. Martinez joined the company in 1995.

Principal consultant Jeanne Stiernberg commented, "Yesenia has proven her vital role in the company many times over the past twenty years. Originally a part-time office assistant, Yesenia coordinates administration functions for the company including travel and planning. She also assists with research and analysis for market intelligence projects on behalf of our global client base." Building on her college background in statistics, Yesenia's research duties include relentless digging, compiling, and pattern recognition.

Martinez reflected, "I've been able to build an exciting career with Stiernberg Consulting. From attending trade shows like CES, InfoComm, and NAMM to staying on top of emerging industry trends, my job is never dull and I'm always learning something new. I've built strong industry relationships and continually added to my experience base over the past 20 years."

In addition to focused client project work, she also maintains the Stiernberg Consulting website and its comprehensive calendar of industry trade events. The calendar includes now includes over 200 trade shows and conferences worldwide and continues to grow under Yesenia's watchful eye.

Please join Stiernberg Consulting on congratulating Yesenia Martinez on twenty years of service, and many more to come!

###  

April 30, 2015

Business Chops Hot Tip #4: What's On Your Dashboard?

It's true that what gets measured gets done. Being able to quantify goals and objectives is a step toward making them realistic and achievable. Good firms have financial metrics and goals. Great companies also have non-financial goals that they quantify and track. But having detailed, multi-faceted metrics doesn't alone insure enterprise-wide management focus. In the best firms, these strategic and tactical goals are front-and-center throughout the organization. How? It's the companies that condense key metrics into a dashboard that's viewable and sharable on a frequent basis that are better poised to steer the company to its goals.

Hot tip: Design a dashboard of key metrics to track ongoing without the need for complex digging, mining, and analysis. Keep an eye trained on your dashboard of salient metrics.

Stiernberg Consulting provides strategic and tactical business planning services for manufacturers, and other companies in the audio-video, music products, entertainment technology industries.

October 20, 2014

Edge-Wise: Getting a Word in on Industry Dynamics and Trends

The Communication Edge—Do You Have It?

By Jeanne Stiernberg - Principal Consultant

Today more than ever, we are in a robust and content-dense information environment. Jeanne StiernbergAdd to that the many new options for communication tools that are literally at our fingertips, and we have the perfect storm for perfect communication. But things aren’t perfect and never will be as long as the combination of the human element and technology vagaries are at play. Conveying your reality of meaning and intent to another person isn’t so easy. What are the transferable principles from the perspectives of the communication sciences, and how can we apply them to our everyday interactions? What are the fundamental principles of communication pragmatics that can be applied to business? Read on…

An Imperfect Process

Human communication is inherently an imperfect process. It’s illusive to define and explicate, especially “midstream” (in real time while it’s happening). Have you ever thought, “I wish I hadn’t said that…”? Only in retrospect can the full success of a communicative exchange be determined. Even with a shared language “code”—vocabulary and industry jargon—there are unlimited opportunities for mixed results. So if communication is so imperfect, what makes it work? 

Pragmatics To The Rescue

To the rescue—pragmatics! Knowledge from the field of communication pragmatics, the rules for social language, sheds light on the functional aspects of human language use in action.

Just as technology transfer from one field to another can leapfrog and enrich innovation, so too can knowledge transfer from the field of communication science provide insight and tools for business professionals in our industry. Here are some perspectives from that field.

Language has structure, from the phoneme level to the syntactic utterance level. One element that makes it all work is redundancy. Our language code structure is dense with redundancy from the phonetic to the sentence level. Language also has semantic content and function. Holding it all together are the communication pragmatics that address the paralinguistic functions inherent in the interactive communication process.

Pragmatics are the rules for “saying the right thing to the right person in the right way at the right time” to get the message across with your full meaning and intent intact. It’s language interactive pragmatics that address message conveyance, and include the “cleanup” work so often required. This includes requesting and providing message repair.

Business Communication Skills—Black Belt Level

What do the best communicators do that we can learn from? Following are five principles of effective communication to use as calibration for assessing and improving your business—and personal—communication skills. Each is followed by an Edge-Wise Success Tip.

1. Multiple Ends Require Multiple Means

Electronic communication has enabled quick, asynchronous, accessible interactions in essentially real-time. E-mail correspondence, whether from a mobile device or a desktop has been a default means of information exchange for decades. Texting, e-mail’s quicker cousin, allows for even more instantaneous exchanges. Voice-to-voice and face-to-face offer the opportunity for greater nuance on topics that call for discussion as well as for real-time message clarification and repair mid-stream. And in-person situations offer the benefit of body language and facial expressions that convey far more than we estimate.  This is part of the reason why video-conferencing (from Skype and FaceTime to proprietary telepresence systems) is so popular. Anything less than face-to-face needs to have built-in mechanisms for ensuring clarity of information received and information sent.

Edge-Wise Success Tip: Choose the best communication medium for the message. Think through your intent and communication objective in advance and choose the best tool for the job.

2. Content May Be King, But Context Rules

The digital signage market has adopted the cliché, “content is king.” In reality, content may even be the grand emperor. But without context, the emperor has no clothes. The context of a communication is what drives it. The pragmatic communication skill of framing up the context of a message often times gets overlooked in the name of expedience. This is particularly important when asking questions. Without enough context (e.g. overview, background, quick review of prior conversations), questions—especially questions written in an e-mail or a text—can appear to be coming from out of the blue.

Edge-Wise Success Tip: Provide plenty of context to drive accuracy and expedience in both spoken and written communications. Frame up questions before diving into them. Provide agendas for meetings, including phone or videoconference. Don’t be afraid to say, “Here’s a quick overview of why we’re here.”

3. Ask For and Give Feedback

Consider a high-stress/high-stakes communication situation. Airport control tower-to-pilot communication comes to mind. What makes pilot-to-control tower communication successful in what is arguably a less than ideal, high stakes, time sensitive, mission critical speech/listening situation? A critically important factor is continuous feedback that provides the opportunity for immediate and efficient message repair. With each instruction, the listener (receiving party) provides feedback about what was heard. Both the message sender and the message receiver (as they trade roles) know if their communication was received successfully. We can all take a lesson from this extreme example.

Edge-Wise Success Tip: As listener (or “receiver” in the case of text communication), be sure to provide ongoing feedback to the speaker (sender) about what was heard and perceived. As speaker (or “sender”), make sure the listener/receiver understood your message. Don’t leave ‘em hanging!

4. R U 2 Kryptk?

In communication, conciseness has both advantages and drawbacks. Clarity and directness often come paradoxically from more communication, not less. The medium of texting almost dares us to pare down our messages to the barest of essentials. This is efficient, but concise often morphs to its evil twin cryptic. Add to that the quick-fill, auto-correct, often times off-the-wall guesses that the device itself makes on the sender’s behalf. Consider the pitfall of carelessly sending a confidential message to the wrong address and again we have a perfect storm for miscommunication. Of course the benefits of texting far outweigh the landmines. In fact, texting allows for the more frequent volleys of send-receive-send-receive verification of communiqué similar to the pilot-control tower paradigm.

Edge-Wise Success Tip: Don’t skimp on the redundancy needed to send a clear message. Redundancy is your friend, your pal, your chum, your buddy. While Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, most text platforms (and certainly e-mail) allow for enough space to be perfectly clear.

5. Your Communication—Intact Or Broken—You Own It

Human communication is imperfect and fraught with obstacles. The most successful communicators try to think like their listeners/receivers. They take ownership and full responsibility for the exchange. The best communicators are quick to pick up cues that signal the need for elaboration, clarification, redundancy, and repair. The most successful communicators also…

  • Make use of all the communication media and tools at their disposal.
  • Understand the benefits and limitations of each communication mode.
  • Think like the receiver to be sure the message makes sense in terms of context and content.
  • Are never so concise that they omit “please” and “thank you.” Even though we’re all using electronic devices, it’s still human-to-human communication.

Edge-Wise Success Tip: In every communication situation, EACH participant needs to take 100% responsibility for the success of the messages sent and received. This is not a 50/50 situation. It’s 100/100.

Your Competitive Edge

Excellence in business communication is a critical success factor in our rapidly changing industry. It requires continuous focus on the senders, the receivers, the tools, and the message. The “best of the best” focus on continuous improvement of their communication skills, and those who do have a competitive edge while others are vulnerable. Do you have industry leading communication skills?

About Stiernberg's Edge-Wise

Our industry (entertainment technology, music products, and AV/IT systems) is changing rapidly and growing slowly. While business is better than a few years ago, there is more competition than ever before. You need a competitive edge. The team at Stiernberg Consulting has designed this series of quick thoughts on industry issues and dynamics as support to your own good sense. Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, rep, or design firm, this series aims to spark new thinking to optimize sales, profits, and growth of your business. We cut through the clutter and point you to ways to build your competitive edge, grounded in common sense wisdom. Sometimes irreverent, always timely, Stiernberg’s Edge-Wise is published periodically.

September 15, 2014

Stiernberg Consulting Supports CEDIA Market Research

At the recent CEDIA Expo in Denver, Stiernberg Consulting attended the official press conference for the announcement of the forthcoming "Size and Scope of the Residential Electronic Systems Market" report. Principal Consultants Jeanne and John Stiernberg are seen in the photo below, along with CEDIA's Erica Shonkwiler. Jeanne serves on the CEDIA Market Research Committee.

Photo by John Staley Photography

Participating systems integrators forecast continued double-digit revenue growth in 2014. Here is a link to the CEDIA Show Daily article that includes additional facts and figures from this year's report. 

To read full article: click here

September 04, 2014

Business Chops Hot Tip #3: How Strong is Your Network?

The AV/IT/MI/CE* systems industry is built on networking from the electronic to the human. Just as individual gear components operate within systems contexts, so too do individual people who give life to the market. Successful firms are those whose individuals are connected to a wide range of industry stakeholders. Networking theory contends that the most efficient path to multiple end-points is through a network. Effective and robust human connectivity requires well honed and disciplined communication skills. Focused communication as a multi-dimensional, multi-media, disciplined set of activities also requires time and proactive attention. The upcoming CEDIA Expo and AES Convention provide opportunities to assess and enhance connections of all kinds. How robust are your networks?

Stiernberg Consulting provides strategic and tactical business planning services and market intelligence for manufacturers and other companies in the audio-video, music products, entertainment technology industries. Visit the Stiernberg Consulting Industry Calendar of Events for a glimpse of the multiple networking opportunities in our industry at large.

 *audiovisual, information technology, music products (formerly “musical instruments”), consumer electronics.

August 28, 2014

Business Chops Hot Tip #2: Is Your Company's Market Intelligence Sustainable?

Most firms have no shortage of data, and much of it is focused in the financial realm. Having a dashboard of key internal metrics is essential for making short- and long-term management decisions. However, keeping an eye on the external competitive environment is also a critical success factor for any size company. Understanding and using key market data, when applied to making management decisions is an element of market intelligence. Having a sustainable market intelligence function at the executive level is a critical success factor that gives your firm valuable perspective. How is your company performing in the competitive landscape?

Stiernberg Consulting provides strategic and tactical business planning services and market intelligence for manufacturers, and other companies in the audio-video, music products, entertainment technology industries. The whitepaper “When In Doubt, Find Out! Using Market Intelligence to Manage Risk and Uncertainty” describes five myths and realities about business intelligence and offers tips for spotting trends in your market environment.

August 21, 2014

Business Chops Hot Tip #1: Planning Is Your Competitive Advantage

Stiernberg Consulting announces a series of business and management tips. “Business Chops™ Hot Tips” will focus on tactics for planning, competitive intelligence, trend analysis, and business development decisions that optimize sales, profits, and growth of your business. Think of Business Chops as your competitive advantage toolbox.

Business Chops Hot Tip #1: Planning Is Your Competitive Advantage

Why are some companies in our industry more sustainably successful than others? Hit products? Best prices or value? Great customer relations? Those are all relevant, but they're the results of focused business planning. Strategy is decision making that involves the critical choices that focus your firm’s efforts. Your strategic (three-year) plan outlines what you are going to do within the industry. It also answers “why,” or the rationale behind the decisions. Sales and profit growth need to be driven by planning—they don't occur miraculously by accident. Your operating (one-year) plan articulates how you are going to implement the strategy. Relatively few of your competitors do planning beyond simple budgeting. Your business plan is a powerful competitive weapon.

Hot tip: Take time to plan.

Stiernberg Consulting provides strategic and tactical business planning services for manufacturers, and other companies in the audio-video, music products, entertainment technology industries. The whitepaper “The Tactics of Strategic Planning“ offers five success tips for optimizing strategic planning and describes key applications for scenario planning.

July 24, 2014

From John Stiernberg--Special Invitation to Capital Summit @ CEDIA Expo 2014

Greetings! This is to let you know about a very special upcoming event.

Stiernberg Consulting is partnering with Intrepid Investment Bankers and the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) to present a first-of-its-kind event: The Capital Summit @ CEDIA EXPO 2014. The Summit takes place Wednesday, September 10, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver (co-located with the CEDIA EXPO).

Summit Overview

The Capital Summit brings together residential systems industry entrepreneurs seeking investment with financial professionals and business experts from the world of investments, mergers and acquisitions. Registered attendees will hear from two panels made up of both strategic and financial investors on pertinent industry issues, including:

What investors look for in a company;
How to find qualified investors;
Do's and don'ts of presenting your opportunity to investors;
The problem with investing in the industry and how to solve it;
Examples of successful mergers and acquisitions in the industry; and
How to get started if you do not have an exit strategy.

Partnering with our colleagues at Intrepid Investment Bankers and CEDIA, the Capital Summit is a timely and relevant event.

Who's Invited?

The Capital Summit is geared to industry executives and investors including owners, entrepreneurs, senior executives, and finance professionals. It is especially focused on addressing the issues that branded manufacturers and distributors face as they seek growth financing or plan a merger or acquisition.

High-Profile Panel

Our panel includes both buyers and sellers. Their comments promise to be lively, provocative, and targeted to today's market environment.

Announced panelists include:

Craig Craze, CEO of SnapAV (General Atlantic);
Tim Enwall, CEO of Revolv (Foundry Group);
Scott Gill, CEO, Milestone AV Technologies (Pritzker Group);
Brian Kinsman, Partner Bunker Hill Capital (SunBrite TV);
Jyothsna Kumaraswamy, Director Strategy and M&A, Lifestyle Division of Harman International;
Tim Lucas, CFO of VIA; and
Jim Young, Director of Corporate Development, Legrand (Middle Atlantic, NuVo).

How to Register

Many of you are already planning to attend CEDIA EXPO 2014. You will still need to sign up for the Capital Summit. Register online in the CEDIA EXPO 2014 registration system under the Events section. The event is free for CEDIA members.

The price is $50 for non-CEDIA members. A tremendous value, the nominal fee includes VIP registration to the EXPO Keynote, tradeshow exhibit floor, and welcome reception.

REGISTER NOW

Note: You will need to log in to the CEDIA online registration system to register for this event. Space is limited!

Sound interesting? Please let me know if you are able to attend or if you have any questions. Looking forward to seeing you soon in Denver!

Yours truly,

John

November 18, 2013

Edge-Wise: Getting a Word in on Industry Dynamics and Trends

Sometimes irreverent always timely, our Edge-Wise series cuts through the clutter and inspires you to build your competitive edge with quick thoughts on industry nuances and dynamics.

Technology Transfer and AV/IT "Volleyball"

By Jeanne Stiernberg - Principal Consultant 

The conversation about AV/IT integration & has been percolating for over a decade. And from the AV industry's standpoint, this dialectic has tilted toward IT converging in on AV. Yet, the two fields have been interacting dynamically in multi-faceted ways. Although the IT-toward-AV directionality trend is more noticeable, the interaction between the audio-visual and information technology (AV/IT) worlds is more a game of "volleyball" - a broader, bi-directional reciprocal interplay, with the net getting lower every day.

Jeanne Stiernberg‚ÄčA key driver of this convergence is the dynamic of technology transfer, which occurs when knowledge or methodology from one field is adopted by another field. Scientific and business innovations and discoveries made in one arena can be learned and adapted to other--often disparate--arenas, allowing for leapfrogging of technology and technical knowledge. We can thank these forces of technology transfer, and what NASA calls "spin-offs," for (now mainstream) LEDs, infrared cameras, GPS, smoke detectors, barcoding (from the railroad scheduling industry), and joystick controllers. And speaking of joysticks, one catalytic example of technology transfer in the volley between IT and AV is video games.

The video game industry is large and growing, and continually borrows digital audio and video technology from our industry. Audio gaming elements came of age in the AV world ("AV to IT"), as did much of the video technology. With its industry growing and expanding robustly, game technology developers are advancing new ways to create larger-than-life, immersive audio and video experiences. It could be that the AV industry will be the benefactor of these new cutting edge developments (e.g. in the areas of 3-D, 5.1 surround over headphones, etc.). So the technology ball may well come back over the net from game technology to drive innovation of audio and video technologies relevant to the core AV systems industry. And, by the way, as the AV/IT industry seeks new talent, it's no stretch to think that the game industry has already bred a crop of bright minds to cultivate for core AV research and development.

Technology transfer is actually a subset of the broader force of knowledge transfer. Although the term "knowledge transfer" is most commonly applied within a given organization to broaden the skill-set of employees (think training and certification programs), the concept has profound pan-industry implications. Processes, constructs, and paradigms that migrate from innovations in one industry are subsequently applied in another.  For example, the "project management" approach to manufacturing was pioneered by Henry Gantt (read: "Gantt Charts") for shipbuilding in World War 1. 

There are two critical success factors that are key to our industry embracing more technology transfer opportunities. One is to be open to learning new "languages"-new terminology for familiar technology and product concepts. The second requirement is to see our industry in the larger external context of the sciences, the markets, and applied human perceptual processing. As John Donne said, "No man is an island." We contend that no industry is an island either.

Paradox conclusion: The converged AV/IT industry is part of a larger technology world (on both the receiving side and the innovating side).

  • Sign up here to stay in the loop for our featured Edge-Wise articles.