Home Automation Podcast Episode #52: An Industry Q&A With Giles Sutton
Become a Certified Integrator
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Giles Sutton. Recorded live on Wednesday, September 12th at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Giles Sutton
Giles Sutton is the Senior Vice President of Industry Engagement at CEDIA. In this role he is charged with driving member engagement around the world, facilitating strong partnerships across the industry, and helping build awareness of the CEDIA channel among architects, builders and interior designers.
Giles has spent the last 13 years as Managing Director of James and Giles Ltd. based in London. Under his leadership the company won numerous industry awards and had its work featured in industry press as well as national publications. Prior to founding James and Giles, he worked for a pro audio installation company designing recording studios and live sound systems.
Before ever joining the CEDIA staff, Giles spent many years as a volunteer. Not only has he served on the board; Giles has also served on the Membership Advisory Council, the Designation Task Force, the Governance Committee, Trailblazers Apprentice Working Group (EMEA) as well as CEDIA Treasurer. In addition to these volunteer roles, Giles has been a leader for a CEDIA Group, he’s a COI and ESC-D certified.
Giles graduated in 2001 with a BA Honours degree in Sound Technology from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).
Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Giles:
- Working with Designers and Architects
- Opportunities in Lighting and Energy Automation
- CEDIA's acquisition of The Cinema Designer software
- Exciting things we saw at the show
Ron: Hello everybody. Ron Callis with another episode of Automation Unplugged. It says episode 52 today is Wednesday, September 12th at 12:31. We almost made it on time, right at 12:30. Yeah and there we go. So I'm going to come over here to Facebook too see if our stream is actually effectively and being piped into our page. So let, give me a moment while I just check on that cue the jeopardy music. All right, let's see here. There we are. We've got some people jumping in. Cool. All right, well I am happy to be back here in Florida. Last week was an action packed week. Some of you were probably out in San Diego and out at the annual CEDIA expo. And it was just a fantastic time. One Firefly was there and in all of its glory brought a good contingent of my staff out there. Had a ton of fun. We went over to the,, saw a bunch of our customers, saw a bunch of listeners of the Automation Unplugged shows. Ended up having some fun at various industry events such as the, the Pro Source party, the Control4 party, the Azione cocktail hour. What else did we do? This Sonnen the Sonnen party on Friday night where they unveiled the Eco Links energy automation product, which was pretty spectacular and on out. It was pretty awesome. I am gonna flash him artwork now on the screen. Let's see if I can figure this out here. We at One Firefly did just launch our Instagram page at CEDIA. So please go over to at One Firefly LLC and you can see the correct spelling there on the screen and that is now live. So go over to Instagram and like us and we'll try to do a good job of posting quality content to that social platform. All right. Without further ado, let's bring our guest on. Mr. Giles Sutton of CEDIA. Giles, how are you sir?
Giles: I am awesome. Ron great to be here.
Ron: And you live in England?
Ron: And say that again?
Ron: Londinium. And you are in the US you were up at Indy, you're an Indy, correct. At CEDIA headquarters?
Giles: That's right. So I came straight from San Diego to to our offices in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ron: Got it. Well, I appreciate you taking time out of your super busy schedule to join us here on Automation Unplugged.
Giles: Absolute pleasure. Thanks for inviting me on.
Ron: Now Giles, you have spent at least a portion of your career as an integrator and I want our audience to learn all about that. But before we go there and we talk about the past, what is the present, what is your current role with CEDIA?
Giles: So I joined CEDIA just about two months ago as a senior vice president of industry engagement. So that is a new role that was created. And the main premise of the role is that I am driving member engagement around the world, forming and driving more partnerships with with manufacturers and also expanding people's awareness of CEDIA with influencers, designers, architects, that kind of thing.
Ron: Got it. That sounds like a rather large role. A lot of responsibility.
Giles: It is indeed. Yeah. It covers a lot of different areas. 100% You know, there's, there's an outreach element to it. Membership, business development. Yeah. I think CEDIA when they were recruiting for this role, they wanted it. They wanted someone that really sort of understood the market. So I think that really was a big part of why I was why I was brought on board.
Ron: Awesome. Well help my audience, and I understand a little bit about your background. You know, where did you come from? What did you study? What did you do before you landed here at CEDIA?
Giles: Well, I mean, you said a portion of my life was spent as an integrator. I'd say the majority of my life was actually spent as an integrator. I mean, you know, going right back to when I was a youngster. I mean, like a lot of people in this industry, I was techie from the get go. I don't know why I was, but you know, I always knew how to program the VCR. I was always the kid at home. That was, you know, editing, you know, family movies and stuff. So, it was always been tech techie. And the natural thing for me, cause I love music, I was quite musical as well. I moved into sort of the music technology world. And then from that I went to the local Institute performing arts Lipa, which was very new forming arts college that was set up by the Beatles. Paul McCartney, one of the Beatles so it had incredible facilities, their recording studio facilities. I graduated with a degree in Sound Technology and like, many Sound Technology graduates. There wasn't a lot of jobs in recording studios at that time. The time where everything was becoming computer-based with the likes protocols and things like that. I worked for a company that designed pro audio facilities for educational establishments, universities, schools and yeah, got into this industry that someone that I used to work with basically said, you need to get into this dude. You know, this is a growing industry. And actually, I joined a company, I think it was in 2003, so only a couple of years after I graduated and started by programming. That's how I started and worked for a few companies, ran a custom installation department at a HiFi store and then decided to set up on my own business and I set that up at the age of 25 and then I've been doing that ever since. So it was a big step for me to move away from that business and join CEDIA. I really built the business up into a really good organization. We had some fantastic relationships with designers and architects, so, yeah, that's my background really.
Ron: Tell me a little bit about that integration. Can you, I guess, can you expound on that a little bit? A lot of those listening to this show, whether live or as a recording later, a lot, a lot of this audience are integrators and so I think they'd appreciate certainly with your position and outreach at the trade association level, kind of what perspective you're bringing to the table from your integration firm?
"It's quite strange how our industry are very good at working with each other, chatting, geeking out on Twitter, that kind of thing. But I think it's interesting how we seem to not be so good at actually marketing outwardly."
Giles: Cool. Well the name of that company was called James and Giles. And as I say, I set it up in 2006. When I set the business up, I really wanted it to be positioned in a way that it would be appealing to designers and architects. So what I did was as a love lover of architecture and interior design, I aligned the marketing of my site with architecture sites. Though actually from the get-go, I made sure that they were very image heavy. Because I always find it's actually quite difficult to tell the story of what we do because we can skill the technology. So it don't know me that actually when people land on a, on a website for a company, they just want to see projects that look like, that are aspirational, that look like the kind of projects that they work on. So architects will say, Oh, well, you know, this company works on projects that look similar to the ones that we designed. So I basically get the whole marketing piece up to looking basically like that's an architect's farm. That was one thing I did as soon as, you know, this was before a lot of social media. As Instagram launched, we really pushed our Instagram feed. It became, I always think it's quite strange how our industry are very good at working with each other, you know, chatting, geeking out on Twitter, that kind of thing. But I think it's interesting how we seem to not be so good at actually marketing outwardly. So one of the things I really did, and it's interesting that you've launched on Instagram as well, because I think Instagram is one of the more powerful social media platforms for our industry and totally underutilized. Really, you know, there are some companies that really got involved with it. But everyone seems to be on Twitter and okay. There are designers on Twitter you know, designers and architects, all visual people. They want to see pictures of projects. They're curious about our industry. So yeah, James and Giles was typically at the high end of the market. You know, like a lot of companies I guess. We have good processes in place. We had CEDIA certified technicians and network specialists on staff. So, we were also enrolled in that outreach program as well. So I regularly delivered training to architects as well as part of the setup.
Ron: I want to jump into a couple of those if you don't mind. A couple of those items you just mentioned. One is the idea that you certainly had a vision from a marketing standpoint of how to present yourself with imagery on your website and within even the style, the layout of your website was more of what say an architect or design firm might present as opposed to maybe your classic integrator website. Did you regularly photograph your projects and if so, how did you maneuver that? Did you have a partnership with a studio in London or multiple studios or did you do this in house?
Giles: A mixture to be honest, because it depends. A lot of the time the architects that are working on the project, they would photograph the project themselves. So, you know, they'd often ask for a small contribution to the fee of having a professional photographer take the pictures. But also I bought a camera that had a really good wide angle lens on it as well. So I'd also photograph it myself. Obviously the benefit of photographing it yourself is you own the rights to the image. So actually that was something that you know, we tried to photograph jobs as much as possible because, you know, if you start to put these images on social media, you need to get the permission of the photographer otherwise. But yeah, we made a point of always pushing to photograph.
Ron: How would you maneuver getting the approval from the customer to photograph it? Did you find that most customers wanted their projects photographed or did you have to fight a battle around that?
Giles: You know, I never really had a problem with it. I found, you know, obviously some high profile clients that you work with celebrities. I also worked with the Royal family. You wouldn't even go there. You wouldn't even ask them because you just know the answer's gonna be no. And you wouldn't even want to put them in a position where they had to decide. But the majority of customers I found were very receptive to it. Just, you know, they just want everything to be anonymous, you know, don't go into too much detail about the location of the property or the homeowner. Be very careful not to take any pictures of things that could identify them. But yeah, didn't find it very difficult at all.
Ron: Were you using much video or were you doing mostly photography of the projects?
Giles: No, it was made mostly photography actually. It actually on an interesting point, I was chatting to a designer and actually a lot of designers write into their contract that they're actually able to photograph the projects, which is quite interesting. So that's something as well that, integrators might want to think about is actually having a marketing clause in their contracts that they have permission to actually photograph the project after it's been completed? Something like that. You know, clients can always scrub it out, but it might be worth just putting that into your contract because that, you know, that could actually be very powerful.
Ron: Chris Gamble, I think one of your brothers from the UK there, is commenting, he said who was the James in James and Giles?
Giles: So that is a question I got asked all the time. So actually he was someone that actually was a very close friend who actually suggested that I should do this. So it was a long time ago I had an opportunity to work on a project and actually he said, I should go ahead and do this. To be perfectly honest with you, there was also a marketing angle to this. I actually also thought, you know, it's just me setting up this company automatically. It sounds like a logical..
Ron: Then let's look bigger than we are.
Giles: 50% bigger.
Ron: The Royal family was willing to hire you. Well, it's not just Giles, so let's go with them. They look bigger.
Giles: Exactly. And then it also again plays back to this architect kind of thing. A lot of architects have put their surnames into their names, they have partnerships. You know, so it was along those lines. I also felt there was a lot of techie names out there, you know, tech, this tech, you know, synergy this.
Ron: You can take about 10 words and jumble them in a hat and pick them out in one, twos or threes. And you'll name 90% of our industry.
Giles: You know what? That is a funny idea. We should have a website where you can actually push a button. It's a random, yeah.
Ron: Name your integration firm audio, video tech, audio, video integration.
Giles: Yeah, exactly. That's, that's funny.
Ron: Bruno Napoli is watching by the way. He says fake it until you make it. Bruno I've been watching you on social, I've seen that you're now. I believe he's working for a company in China? I don't remember. But I know Bruno comes from Paris, right?
"I'm a big advocate of going out to the design community and teaching."
Ron: He did, I don't know if he moved. Update us. Bruno, tell us what you're doing. Put it in the comments there. All right. Giles question, you said you leveraged CEDIA's ROI program. Now many moons ago, I want to say at this point, maybe 10 years ago or so, maybe more, maybe 12 years ago, I personally became ROI instructor for CEDIA. And so I'm a big advocate of going out to the design community and teaching. But can you talk about how you did it? Like what were the mechanics, the tactical on the ground methods you used to get the meeting, who would do the training and all, can you expand on that?
Giles: Cool. So just some background on the program. It's called the COI program. Just certified outreach instructor program. Basically you go on a day long course with CEDIA. Once you're approved, you then have access to a whole bunch in the UK. There's only, I think a couple of at the moment, but I think by next year there'll be about six, which is really exciting. So over in the US there are already I think six or seven courses, but I know that over in the UK, people have been hungry for these courses. So basically once you have been certified as an outreach instructor, you are then able to present these courses to architects and designers and they then earn credits as part of their membership to their industry bodies. So like the ASID, the AIA in the US the RIBA in the UK. And also we're replicating that in Australia as well, I should say as well. There's about, I think there's about 30 outreach instructors over in Australia. So that's a growing market for us. Basically I think the key thing about this program is it's a foot in the door, right? At the end of the day, it's reason to contact an architect or designer along the lines of you're providing actual education to them. So it's not a sales pitch. Obviously there's an opportunity to, you know, provide literature or examples or things to the people that are in the room. But it is an education topic that you're providing. So, a lot of architect firms have their own CPD committees and stuff and they sit down monthly and they decide the courses that they want to do. So I know some companies have actually embraced this whole program to the extent that they actually have people on staff, like telemarketers on staff and all they do like lead gen. All they do is call up architects and designers and try and push these courses because they're that powerful. I know that you know, over here we're going to be doing a lot more around this program. This is something that I see as very powerful. Part of my role is clearly increasing our engagement with influencers. So I'm really focusing on this program. I think there is the potential of having influencer events. So this is something I'm also looking at is whether we have, you know, small scale influencer events around the world where we have designers invited and CEDIA members that are certified can present to them. So yeah, I would encourage everyone to get COI certified. All I would say is that it needs, it requires some time, right? And it requires time to pick up the phone and call cool designers and get you put in the dual. But most of them are receptive. Most of them are hungry to know about our industry. That's the one thing that has been really quite striking through. Some of the discussions that I've had both at expo through some of the design connection tours that were happening there. And also my conversations with the ASIID is their members want to know about technology. You know, it's still a bit of an unknown and they don't know how to work with us so well either. So I think there's something to be that to be said for looking at a course that explains how we work with them. So yeah, I think, you know, massive opportunity.
Ron: What would be next steps for anyone listening that wants to investigate the COI program with CEDIA? What do you recommend as immediate next steps?
Giles: Well, so the courses run all around the US and in the UK as well. And I think there's another one coming up in Australia. Get on the CEDIA website, you'll see it listed under the training. Obviously you need to be a CEDIA member as well to have access to this program. But it is, until we launch something at CEDIA last week, that I want to talk about. But I think it's one of our biggest member benefits alongside, you know, the awards program as well.
"You need to be positioned as the thought leader in front of those designers, architects, builders, people in the design trade, in your local markets."
Ron: No, I agree. When I have you know, I'm working with integrators every day of the week and you know, many of them are either looking at how to improve their marketing or looking at how to prepare for the future in a case where maybe the market isn't as rich as it is right now. And my common go-to is outreach. I mean, you need to be positioned as the thought leader in front of those designers, architects, builders, people in the design trade, in your local markets. And they what many, maybe many of the business owners here in CEDIA or in the integration space don't realize is that an architect has to maintain their licensing by getting CEOs. They have to attend education. And so, you know, they want you to come into their office and you do have to pay, you have to buy them lunch, maybe but your vendors will generally pay for that. And they want education. And so it's a captive audience. It really is. I think maybe silly that more people don't go out there and take advantage of this stellar program from CEDIA.
Giles: Like they spend about eight years, I think in education too. Actually, it may be maybe even more than that to actually be become a qualified architect. So, yeah, absolutely. It's in their DNA to want to learn. They're hungry, hungry to learn. You know, I think a lot of integrators are just nervous approaching this sector. And I think that's, that CEDIA has a role to play in that. I think the higher you can get up the food chain, the better. I think because you're being seen as a professional. If you're sitting around the table with other professionals you're not someone else's responsibility. I think if you're hired by the contractor, which I know a majority, you know, majority probably of our members are, you know, you don't have a lot of influence with what's actually going into the prophecy. Whereas if you can get in right at the start, you can actually really make a huge impact.
Ron: Bruno just asked a question, I think directed for you. He says, do you think that one day the construction industry will require the home technology professional to be certified in order to work on a construction site?
Giles: That's a good question. I think..
Ron: It would probably be country dependent, right?
Giles: It would be, and I know even in the US it becomes state, you know, state dependent. Absolutely. And we have a government affairs department here as well, but actually the whole industry benefits from as well. So because you do have to be a CEDIA member to get that benefit. But yeah, I think, there is the potential. I think, yeah, I mean, I don't know.
Ron: That's a loaded question. That's a big hairy question. You could step in a lot of landmines with that question.
"I think every single member company should have a CEDIA certified member of staff on board. I think it's vital."
Giles: Yeah. So I think CEDIA says to answer in a different way, I think every single member company should have a CEDIA certified member of staff on board. I think it's vital. I mean, and also to also invest in continuing education with your staff. And I'm not talking about manufacturer specific education because that can be quite focused on products. The nice thing about CEDIA education is it's obviously brand agnostic and that is something that we are really focusing a huge amount of effort in. So alongside me there is a Senior Vice President of education and certification who's joined, Tom Darling. We are really ramping up our online education and these are going to be cost effective, four hour or less courses. We're going to have by the end of next year, 72 online learning courses. And this is not just technical courses, this is courses in business. And this is something I keep like this is the conversations I had at the show. You know, we wanna help CEDIA members' businesses prosper. So it's going to be on subjects like marketing, sales, social media as we touched on as well as business management. This is going to be the most game changing things about our education offering next year. You know, we need to do what we can to help businesses improve. It's essential. So I'm really excited about that.
Ron: Got it. So, JJ Canon Digital Delight of I believe The Digital Ramble, correct me if I'm wrong. JJ and Chris, they are here and JJ said hi Giles and Ron, what's the topic? Your man Giles is the topic. JJ, what more do you need? We're just, you know, basking.
Giles: Come on.
Ron: We talk about whatever we want to talk about. That's how we roll here.
Giles: Don't they just ramble?
Ron: There you go. See, we ramble too but we didn't put it in our name. Yeah, he's given us a thumbs up. All right, Bruno has another question. He says and on the other hand, how can a home tech pro that have almost no certification credible and educate an architect? Oh, that's interesting. So he's saying a home tech pro that doesn't necessarily have a college degree, doesn't necessarily have a certification. How can they be justified in going to an architect who has eight years of education and giving them relevant content?
Giles: Well, that is an interesting question, definitely because, you know. We have a new program that we'll be launching soon. I think will address that. I can't talk about it right now, but I think I know where Bruno's coming from. But one of the things that I think is very important is, you know, I want CEDIA to represent good companies that are professionals, right? That are involved, that have a professional design and installation element to the work that they do. And that was something that came out of the strategy work that we did. I don't know if people are aware that when we sold CEDIA expo, we felt it was important to go through a strategic planning process. And we worked with a doctor, a professor, a college professor, called Dr Rebecca Humkiss, who also worked with AVIXA and his work with Crestron and some other companies and works with you know, oil companies. And you know, we, we felt it was very important that we defined our industry. What is the industry that we're in because that really sets in motion everything that we do. So one of the things we did was to define the industry as a professional design and installation industry. So there has to be a design and installation element in home technology. So yeah. At the end of the day, I believe we are going to represent professionals in our industry.
Ron: I'm going to state that although integrators may not have a college degree in engineering, they've got a college, they've got a life degree in the school of hard knocks out there doing installations. And that's not to disparage any integrator. They come from all different shades of backgrounds and educations and levels of business experience. But when you spend a long career out there figuring things out and when CEDIA certifies a curriculum as having been approved by the AIA and the ASID, then who better to communicate that message then the people that are on the ground with real life experience delivering this officially certified content? And so that would be, I think my response to Bruno why I think it's legitimate. I would also add for integrators that are watching.. There you go, Chris says we all got scars. That's right. And you educate from those, those scars and those experiences.
Giles: Yeah. Just because you haven't got a college degree doesn't necessarily mean that you're, you know, you're not running a really good business.
Ron: That's right.
Giles: I think the difference, I think the, the only interesting point is that, and this isn't about credentials or saying how professional or not you are, I just think there are a lot of people in our industry that are real techies and not necessarily business minded. And I think, you know, that's something that, you know, when it comes to also the way people design systems as well, it's something that I think should potentially be looked at. I think I would urge simplicity in system design, you know, I think, you know, there are..
Ron: Less is more better is better.
Giles: Right, exactly. And I think that's the key is I think we need to make sure that we empower members with the right tools to be able to develop good businesses.
Ron: So would you believe it, we're almost at 30 minutes and I know we have a whole list of topics we want to get to. I told you this would happen. We'll blink and we're going to get there. So I'm going to jump right in. It was in the news just recently that CEDIA acquired a theater design software company. Can you talk about that? And I even went ahead in advance of the show and went out and grabbed some screenshots from their website. Can you tell us what was acquired and what the benefits to the CEDIA member are in using it?
Giles: Sure. So CEDIA acquired a software platform called the cinema designer, which we've now renamed the CEDIA Designer. So this is a tool that allows you to design home theaters, media rooms. It could be just a television on a wall with a soundbar up to a full home theater system by just entering in design information. So the size of the room, the types of construction materials that are being used. And in a matter of minutes, it will push out a whole raft of information. So that is you know, an actual category. And this is one of the real intellectual property that we were so excited about is that this is something that no one else could do. Putting in all this information, you push a button and it actually pushes out this incredible CAD model 3D CAD model. In addition to that, it also provides loads of information on the products that are being used. It obviously conforms to current standards as well. This is us wanting to provide our members with a tool that they can use to design high quality home theaters. And you know, having been an integrator for many years, I've stepped into many rooms that are meant to be home theaters. You know, and you walk into the room and there were like five in ceiling speakers in the room with a crooked led TV on the wall and that's the home theater. So, you know, that is clearly not a home theater. So what this is, is it again comes back to providing our members with a real benefit. This the base version of the software is free with your CEDIA membership.
Ron: How have you seen early adoption? So this just happened, how have you seen the dealers attending the classes at CEDIA and, or downloading the software?
Giles: So the adoption has been phenomenal. So obviously it was only launched last week. So yeah. Less than a week ago. We're seeing, you know, over a hundred a home theater designs being carried out day on this. So that's great. And it's expanding as people are aware of it.
Ron: That's crazy.
Giles: So I actually used it within my business as well. And actually to give you an example of how this can be useful an architect in the early stages of designing a property said to me, can you just send me a CAD block for a 10 seater home theater system just so I can drop it into my plans and have some early conversations with their client? You know, to do that, take hours and hours and hours you'd need the CAD drawings. It's drop it into CAD, I mean, in that early kind of specking time, you haven't had a design deposit, can't do that. You go into the CEDIA designer, you put in all the information, you've got the room and you've got a catalog. Send it straight over to the architects. You can put it straight into his designs, you don't even have to charge him for it.
Ron: Chris Gamble just commented, he said this software will be hugely popular with members. HUGE! I think he's using his Donald Trump voice when he says HUGE.
Giles: Did he use caps for that? I hope so.
Ron: They did. There's caps. You automatically have to say it in Trump's you know, whatever. I wanna say accent, but I don't know if he has an accent, but..
Giles: So manufacturers are loving it. Obviously we have loads of manufacturers that have their products in there. So more and more there are actually manufacturers that actually use it as part of their design service. So like Meridian audio for example, use it as part of their design service that they offer.
Ron: That's right. I remember, I was just talking to Ryan. Meridian is now providing engineering services for free for their dealers, for their projects.
Giles: Yeah. So this is part of what they use. So yeah, it's phenomenal. We're in talks with lots of different manufacturers who are very interested in it. Yeah, and I would encourage everyone who is a CEDIA member just to go to the website, which is CEDIAdesigner.org. Use your CEDIA log in, you get in straight away and you're in the software. You that. So yeah, just get straight into it and just drop some coordinates and you'll be amazed at what it can do. It is phenomenal.
Ron: On the subject of theater designing. And I don't even know the name of the company, but you may have remembered last week. So I'm leading in here. Neat things from the show. Did you visit that company where you put the VR headset on? They're out of Utah.
Giles: Oh Real?
Ron: Real, is that what it is? I thought it was just with a modular, I don't know. Somebody helped me that's watching drop the name into the chat, but I know their buttons said losing my VRGinity virginity. That was their promotion. But that demo was amazing. I don't know. Did you?
Giles: Incredible as an idea that the output of the CEDIA designer can somehow tie into that?
Ron: Well, yeah. So they said you can import, I believe they said you could import CAD files or drawings. So if you're giving, if you're doing the basic layout in the CEDIA designer and then importing it into there and allowing for the configuration of the room, I mean holy bananas. We're talking about state of the art techniques here for selling theaters.
Giles: Okay. All I'm going to say is watch this space.
Ron: Oh, so there's more coming. All right, well, so by the way, Chris and JJ just posted that that thing was called Modus VR.
Giles: Ah that's it. Yeah. Modus VR.
Ron: Modus VR. That was pretty good. And by the way, Chris informed us he's cooking dinner while he's listening to us, just in case anyone wonders, what are people doing? He's cooking dinner.
Giles: What's for dinner?
Ron: Come on Chris. What's for dinner? You make it enough and enough for all of us?
Giles: Oh no, this is lunchtime for me. I'm not eating anything
Ron: By the way. I have to give a big shout out to Chris and J at CEDIA. I was there on Tuesday with John my right hand man building our booth and we had this monstrosity of a structure by the way he says this monstrosity of a structure and up come Chris and JJ looking terribly innocent and so I snatched them and they helped us finish building our booth. So guys greatly appreciate it. If you go to our new Instagram page, you will see pictures of them assisting in the building of the One Firefly booth.
Ron: Giles I want to talk about tuneable lighting. This is a big, this is everyone's talking about it. Lutron purchased Ketra. You have, I want to say LumaStream here out of the West coast of Florida. I'm seeing their name pop up. I'm sure there's a.. Color Beam is another one. What do you, what do you think is happening? Why are we hearing about this?
Giles: Well, you know, I think it's, it's definitely a new opportunity for, for, for integrators in our market. It's, I mean, I was blown away by the Ketra demonstration. I don't know if you saw it Ron. I mean.
Ron: I did.
Giles: Yeah, it wasn't just the product, it was the whole way they told the story of the product. And I think actually that's something that, you know, I think integrators can learn from as well is actually how to do a pitch like that because it was incredible.
Ron: Now you saw, so I'm going to have to send this video to Sophia from Lutron. You saw, Sophia present tuneable lighting, is that correct? What was the, what was your experience watching Sophia in all of her expertise deliver that message? How did she do on a 1 to 10 scale?
Giles: Can I do like a spinal tap 11?
Ron: Wow. It was that good.
Giles: It was awesome. Yeah, absolutely incredible. I mean, the way that whole room as well was totally designed to tell that story. The way they also brought in Josh AI. They brought in some voice control as well. The way they picked out, you know, showed how a piece of artwork on the wall, how the colors can change the idea is really compelling. I thought it was really phenomenal. But you know, more broadly speaking, I think lighting is a huge opportunity. I know it's been written about quite a lot, but you know, not just from the selling of fixtures, but I think actually lighting design as you know, I think is something that should be within our industry. It should belong to us because it's something in my experience, there are obviously lighting designers out there, but a lot of them do tend to be in the commercial world, not just purely focused on residential. But it tends to be something that falls in between the cracks. Like the architect will have a go, the designer will have a go. And what tends to happen is it ends up falling on the lap of the integrator to sort out this sort of mess and what the integrator obviously needs a control schedule so that they can put that in. So then they know what's happening on the lighting controls side. So, you know, I think lighting design is the opportunity and obviously lighting, fixture sales, but lighting design is also an opportunity to get to get your foot in the door of these influences as well. Don't forget. And then suddenly you're talking that language, you know how rooms are laid out, you know, they suddenly see you as one of them.
Ron: I think adding a lighting designer to the team, and frankly, all of the profit opportunity to sell fixtures. I mean, these fixtures are not inexpensive and they are not without margin. And that just, you know, screams opportunity. And yet, if our listeners and those watching look to their left and right in their marketplace, how many of their competitors are currently doing this? It's gotta be a very small minority, a very small number have adopted this new path. So the opportunity is, it's awesome.
Giles: I agree.
Ron: Give me one more thing that excited you from CEDIA.
Giles: So I mean you touched on it as well. The notion of energy automation, I'm always interested in finding these new markets that we can, as an industry, I'll say we, you know, CEDIA members, our industry can move into. And I think that the idea of energy automation is very interesting. The Sonnen, I think you said you went to the Sonnen party they're doing some really interesting stuff.
Ron: I did the tech talk with Sonnen.
Giles: Oh, did you?
Ron: I did. Yeah. I was on there with the fearless Blake Ricotta, former co coworker and peer of mine from Lutron and now he's running that business.
Giles: I didn't realize he was, he was from Lutron as well. So, yeah, I think it's obviously a much more it's a market that is a product that is much more geared up to our market than like the Tesla product for example. The way that it can be integrated with Control4 for example, or other automation systems.
Ron: Yeah right now I believe they have their drivers sets done for C4 and for Crestron, those are baked in and ready to go from what I what I understand.
Giles: Yeah. So I'm interested in seeing, talking to these guys further and seeing what we can do on that side of things, whether there is an education offering around energy automation that we can be looking at. Yeah. I thought that was really exciting. Obviously the Reva guys are doing really cool stuff as well. Very excited about that. Yeah. Otherwise the Ketra stuff on the standards was phenomenal. So, yeah. Wasn't that a great show?
Ron: It was awesome. I had a blast. I mean for One Firefly, you know, as I've probably said a few times, you know, for me this was show I think number 18 or 19 for me personally and I was with Lutron, Crestron and then there's One Firefly and for our business you know, we stepped it up a notch this year, had a bit of a nicer booth, a nicer presence, a little more coordinated and you know, you've done something right when you have people walk up to you and say, is this your first time at the show? You guys look good. I'm like, well that's like good and bad cause this is like our eighth year, ninth year at the show. But the first time I think really stepping it up and so, you know, we now know the level that we need to operate moving forward. Giles, I am very excited for you and for our community at large with your moving to CEDIA and taking your expertise and experience and passion to help this channel help this industry globally. I think it's very, very exciting. I really appreciate you taking some time to come on the show.
Giles: Thanks man. I really appreciate it. Really enjoyed being here.
Ron: If you will allow me, I'm going to invite you back and I'd love for us to make this a regular thing. You keep us appraised what's going on in a CEDIA land?
Giles: Cool. So if people also want to follow me on Twitter, I'm CEDIAGiles, G. I. L. E. S.
Ron: CEDIA Giles. Are there any other, and I'll put that here in the.. I'm going to do that now. I'm going to type it. I'm going to say follow Giles on Twitter. And you said that that is at @CEDIAGiles?
Giles: No, not GLA.
Ron: Yeah. See, I didn't even bring out the GLA. I saved, I did that with Jimmy. I wasn't going to do that to your face. That was too much fun. All right, let me let me get signed off here. All right, ladies and gentleman that are watching number one, thanks for watching. Please like this. Please share this. This is how we get the spread the good word with our friends in the industry. I am going to remind you that One Firefly is now on Instagram. So there's our address. Please go on Instagram, check it out. We just launched this last week, so we are I guess Instagram virgins, but no longer. We are now on Instagram and we're going to spread the love and all the marketing goodness. That is One Firefly. And I do not have the artwork done for my next four guests. I can tell you we got some good ones, including Blake Ricotta. We're having him back. We had him on just a little over a year ago. Blake is the CEO of Sonnen that big energy automation story coming out of CEDIA. So we have him on I think in a couple of weeks. And on that note, thank you for joining us. And it was my pleasure and we will see everyone next week on another episode of Automation Unplugged.
Giles has spent the last 13 years as Managing Director of James and Giles Ltd. based in London. Under his leadership the company won numerous industry awards and had its work featured in industry press as well as national publications. Prior to founding James and Giles, he worked for a pro audio installation company designing recording studios and live sound systems. Giles recently took on the role as Senior Vice President of Industry Engagement at CEDIA. In this role he is charged with driving member engagement around the world, facilitating strong partnerships across the industry, and helping build awareness of the CEDIA channel among architects, builders and interior designers.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.
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