She is the Vice President, General Manager Crestron Europe.
Back in 2019 you were appointed as Managing Director of Crestron Europe, could you tell us some of the challenges that you have faced?
It sure was a challenging start! Not long after I was appointed, the Covid crisis arose and sped up tremendously the process that was already ongoing in the AV industry: our industry was already transforming into more than it used to be. We are the AV-IT industry now, or maybe the AV-IT-UC industry. Before the pandemic, everyone in the sector was already using and selling technology to collaborate remotely, with top notch audio and video during meetings from home or from the office. But the changing circumstances also led to an incredible quick turnaround on solutions that could help companies communicate and collaborate during these times. The global pandemic caused companies to quickly change their way of working, and thanks to our technology and experience, we were able to quickly adapt our offering and respond to the increased demand for our technology, even while working from home ourselves.
And of course, the chip shortage and increased demand have introduced a lot of uncertainty into production for companies around the globe. Every day you hear of companies that have had to slow or halt production while they wait for key components and missing chips to finalize building product. We face similar challenges. We are working daily with our different component suppliers to place orders very early and ensure we can receive the components as quickly as possible. to ensure our supply of components to come in. Although the global shortages combined with worldwide transportation issues affect many industries, we remain confident that our experience within AV/ UC/ enterprise and our drive for innovation to find solutions and anticipate to challenges will most definitely help us to overcome the actual situation.
All Crestron activities in EMEA were handled by Future Vision Marketing, but now this is handled by Crestron Europe, what are the pros and cons of this change?
Up until the end of 2018, all Crestron activities in EMEA were handled by Future Vision Marketing. Logistics, finance, distribution, marketing, customer & technical support and training are now fully managed by Crestron Europe, headquartered in Belgium, while Technological Innovations Group (TIG), evolved out of Future Vision Marketing, remains Crestron’s exclusive sales agent in EMEA.
It allows everyone to focus on their strengths. Where Crestron Europe can build upon the resources and efforts of the US headquarter for the operational support and service with a focus to provide excellent support and service to our customers and sales, TIG covers the direct sales relationship with our customers all over the region still receive the same great experience and high level of support they’ve come to know. We have been able to establish a close and strong relationship between TIG and CEUR ensuring an excellent and trustworthy service for our customers within the entire region.
In 2019 Crestron was also growing tremendously. What has that growth been like and what changes has it brought about?
The demand keeps skyrocketing. As said, the Covid crises sped up a process that was already ongoing in the AV industry. Now, every room is a meeting room, and has to be equipped with collaboration technology. Our solutions are in huge demand because of the long term quality they offer. That’s also because we don’t just lean back and wait. The Crestron Next Road Trip Europe is filled with brand new or improved technology for the workplace we developed over the last two years.
Speaking of environment and green initiatives, Crestron has been trying to reduce energy consumption and promote environmental sustainability. What are these initiatives?
Crestron recognizes the impact that human activity has on the environment and we strive to integrate sustainable development and environmental stewardship into our processes, procedures, and practices. We are committed to identifying opportunities to mitigate our impact on the environment and reduce our carbon footprint through improved and sustainable workplace, product designs, manufacturing processes, product life cycle, and end-of-life recycling. As part of our ongoing efforts, we have undertaken lots of initiatives.
Just a few examples: we engage in go green initiatives to innovate products, systems, and solutions designed to reduce energy consumption and promote environmental sustainability, meeting energy code standards adopted by numerous jurisdictions, support product life cycle longevity, engage in environmentally sound and sustainable manufacturing processes, uses eco-friendly packaging materials and practices to minimize package size and waste bulk, recycle metals, plastics, and organic materials responsibly through sustainable vendors, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions for corporate travel and transportation by employing remote meeting technologies and offering remote and hybrid work arrangements to a significant portion of our workforce etc.
What developments could Crestron experience in the future?
We’re in the extremely beneficial position that we have experience in AV, UC and residential solutions. Which means that we are well aware of the needs in all those areas and where they overlap. And it also means that we are always working on developing more products that will ease the way people work and live. Smart buildings for instance.
The concept of a smart building is based on using interconnected technologies to make buildings more responsive, sustainable and productive for their users. It’s the logical next step in digital transformation, a step that some of our customers are already taking. There’s a lot more than audio and video when you look at smart buildings, for instance equipment and energy management, parking management, occupancy analysis, space management/office hoteling, digital signage, direction & indoor navigation, visitor experience & lobby services, cafeteria experience, access control and cognitive services. Crestron’s strength is in providing a complete ecosystem, either on our own or through working with partners that offer the best solutions for their expertise.
Which Crestron product has been most beneficial to your customers?
Crestron XiO Cloud, our global technology operation management system. In a time where adoption rates of new technology skyrocket, it’s important to think about the best way to manage all these newly installed devices, and the old ones. I don’t just mean having the resources to install, set-up and update your technology, but also to fix any issues there might be. Crestron XiO Cloud allows IT to remotely access the specific room system from anywhere in the world. That means they can configure complete systems without the need to go onsite. But XiO Cloud also allows to fix issues remotely. For example, in a classroom, a university deploys a new piece of technology for Zoom meetings. If a professor has an issue joining that Zoom meeting to start the class, IT can remotely access his system through XiO Cloud from anywhere in the world. They can see the system that the professor is working with and can control the system remotely. So, they can immediately hit ‘join meeting’ from anywhere in the world without having to go onsite.
If you had to define Crestron in three words, what would they be?
Innovative, user friendly, integrated (of high quality/ trustworthy)
Crestron Electronics is 50 years old this year. In all this time, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
The world has changed tremendously in 50 years. Crestron was founded in 1972 and has a rich heritage of developing and producing products that solve needs in the workplace and the home. Historically, we created a broad set of piece-part devices and sensors that consultants, dealers, and architects put together to create a solution, but that’s been changing. With the advent of the Internet and digital protocols, Crestron leaned into the future of the industry. In 1995, we introduced the first networked device in the industry, and a few years later introduced E-Control, which provided new ways of integrating and controlling custom spaces. This was the first step in a long journey to merge the AV and IT worlds. In 2001, we launched the industry’s first server-based management system, built for Microsoft®, connecting devices to Exchange to make them “scheduling aware.” Now, with the ability to network, control, and monitor devices, we were ready to fully jump from the analog world (preferred by traditional AV pros) to the digital realm. To that end, Crestron introduced DigitalMedia™ in 2009 – the industry’s first fully-digital audio and video distribution system.
As “digital transformation” became the rallying cry in 2014, we reached an inflection point – everything changed from how we design, develop, and deliver products, to engaging with customers. Crestron’s digital transformation was a conscious decision to focus on the IT professional ecosystem, including system integrators and resellers to sell and install its products, while leveraging Microsoft Azure® IoT for provisioning and management. The Crestron of today is unrecognizable from the company that began five decades ago. While we employ new,technologies such as IoT and AI to provide smart buildings, smart classrooms, and smart workspaces, evolving with customers’needs has always been part of Crestron’s job. Every crisis we manage to stay ahead, and with all the experience we gathered over the years, thanks to our experience in UC, AV, we manage to adapt to all challenges (economically, politically, technology wise). All these challenges allowed us to keep on growing.
Let’s finally speak about the Crestron Next Road Trip Europe. What can we expect of this event and what benefits will bring to the European visitors?
Crestron Next Road Trip Europe is a tour with a mobile experience center that visits 38 stops in 19 countries. The company will provide every attendee a safe and supportive environment in which they get hands-on one-on-one demos of all Crestron’s key technology platforms for the workplace, and answers from experts. We have launched amazing new products and we can’t wait to show our dealers, partners and customers all over Europe how our innovations can ease the way people work. We look forward to connecting in person at ISE Barcelona in May, but we also understand that some customers may currently be hesitant to travel too far and prefer a more personalized, small-scale experience. That’s why the Crestron Next Road Trip Europe offers visitors a closely monitored environment where they can interact with our products and learn from their local Crestron representatives at an easily accessible location closer to home.
The Road Trip Europe is open for everyone: people who are new to Crestron technology and curious to see what Crestron could do for them, for existing customers who want to discover hands-on the latest technology (or simply want to catch up informally), or a Crestron commercial dealer looking to bring customers. It will cover the whole ecosystem of Crestron’s latest solutions for the hybrid workplace, classrooms, government and more, such as Crestron Flex video conferencing, room scheduling solutions, intelligent video & audio solutions, wireless presentation and collaboration technology, Crestron DigitalMedia™ technology and global technology operation management. We are partnering with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Netgear, Zoom, Intel, Philips, Shure, Appspace and Ashton Bentley for this series of events.