There has been some recent discussion and blog posts within the commercial control community centered around the question, “do viable alternatives to AMX & Crestron exist?” What has also been part of this discussion is a growing opinion that the two long-standing control giants may be getting a bit long in the tooth. As we’ve all heard a million times, perception is reality. And while in general, I do not subscribe to this belief, I must say that there does seem to be evidence supporting some truth here. Up until recently, I believe to a certain extent both companies are guilty as charged. Perception or reality…? the bottom line is it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, this belief within the channel has been gaining momentum.
There are a number of factors leading to this, but for the most part I believe it was fueled by the fact that for far too long there existed a gap in providing integrators with a reliable, viable vehicle to completing standard fare AV control projects. Both AMX and Crestron over the years attempted to fill this gap with “wizard” based software applications, but they consistently fell short of the mark. Because of this, it seemed as though every project was forced into becoming a science project. As us AV geeks can relish, we love those “mad scientist” type of projects, the problem is from a business perspective, that approach doesn’t scale. And the days of trying to justify (let alone get someone to actually agree to pay for) a 30K AV project with a 10k programming tag attached to it are over.
The bottom line here is for the vast majority of AV projects, it’s really no longer about code creation, it’s about configuration. And at the foundation of this is module integrity. Without it, the configuration tool can be the most powerful, flexible, easy to use in existence, but without module integrity, you’re dead in the water. This is where AMX and Crestron separate themselves from the pack. They both hold a very valuable asset… a deep, broad module and UI database. Yes, some of the other control company alternatives do provide a means within their software suites to create modules (or drivers, profiles, AV Add-ins, etc…) on the fly, but because of their modest sized module databases you are to a certain extent having to start from scratch by building and vetting out your own. I know some of you out there prefer this methodology regardless, but I’m here to tell you that dog don’t hunt either. AV integrators need to spend their time providing reliable, repeatable, scalable solutions. Module development needs to be offloaded, not absorbed. There’s no way to expand company profitability thru module creation and testing. This is a profit pit!
About 2.5 years ago AMX launched their cloud based project configuration utility called “Rapid Project Maker” or “RPM” for short http://www.amxrpm.com/. This represented the first time either AMX or Crestron launched a very simple, easy to use, cloud based, (and most importantly) very effective control project deployment solution. And while this concept is nothing new, allowing it to function and be fully managed in the cloud and having it deliver as advertised, is. I do know for a fact that AMX has made a huge investment in not only the continuous development of this solution, but also the support behind the usage of it in the field. We have a large # of our AMX dealer base that are using RPM on a regular basis to a very high degree of success. This solution is at the heart of AMX’s future in the channel tied to providing a means to scale with AMX on both the hardware and software side.
And yes, while there will always exist the need for a completely customizable control solution, of which AMX and Crestron have no equals, the game has changed. Thankfully, adaptation and the perception shedding process is taking shape.