Digital Display Solutions (DDSAV): Charting a Seamless Transition to Work-From-Home
Classified as a critical business by the Bexar County in San Antonio, DDSAV has a service agreement to manage the city’s 911 emergency operations center (EOC), one of the many government-based projects that the A/V specialist administers within Texas. The company has also designed and installed A/V systems and control rooms for the Lackland Air Force Base, and the City of San Antonio’s fire department and water system’s headquarters.
“ Regardless of the technical difficulty— troubleshooting or designing a solution from scratch—our staff is equipped to deliver more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than our competitors”
On the commercial side, too, several essential businesses can sustain operations thanks in large part to DDSAV’s solutions—which include Zoom Rooms, Digital Signage, Auditoriums, Hearing Loops, and Conference Rooms, and the requisite A/V support and managed services. For example, a fast-food chain such as Whataburger, which has over 900 stores spread across Texas. DDS has supplied a Service Maintenance Agreement with the large chain for many years.
Ultimate Differentiator: A Well-Trained Team
This rare capability to support businesses during an outbreak is due to the extent of time and effort that DDSAV has invested in training its personnel. Lisa reveals that DDSAV laid out a plan to ensure that “nothing stops” regardless of the duration of the lockdown, allowing its technicians to advance their training remotely—to serve existing and new customers accordingly. While highlighting that “there is no college degree to prepare an A/V engineer,” Lisa acknowledges that DDSAV’s differentiator is its trained staff. “Knowledge is power, and the level of training we provide to our engineers is unprecedented in the industry. Regardless of the technical difficulty— troubleshooting or designing a solution from scratch—our staff is equipped to deliver more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than our competitors,” emphasizes Lisa.
The wealth of knowledge acquired by DDSAV can also be attributed to Lisa’s journey, which includes 25 years with Procter & Gamble (P&G). During her stint with the consumer goods giant, Lisa— akin to a sponge soaking up knowledge— studied the nuances that allow P&G to maintain not only a successful empire and cultivate a workplace of efficiency and harmony. “P&G values diversity and ensures every employee has a voice, which in turn helps them grow from within,” she notes. Fostering a similar culture at DDSAV, Lisa understands each teammate’s strengths and passions, creating an environment where every opinion is valued. This multi-cultured setting is why DDSAV is nationally-certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE) in addition to other certifications such as HUB, DBE, WBE, SBE, EDWOSB, and HABE. DDSAV’s distinction as an MBE has allowed the company to secure several government clients that mandate a minimum of 40 percent minority inclusion in the staff.
It is little wonder DDSAV has succeeded in retaining both clients and employees for the long haul. Lisa says, “Once we develop a relationship with a customer, it is a lifelong association, as our track record proves. Also, through my time with P&G, I learned how to empower and retain employees.”
CIOs have a million questions, and with A/V technology moving so rapidly, they need a place where they can trust experts, self-educate, and collaborate. This is what Technology Toy Store provides
The Standardization Experts
While retaining these long-term associations, DDSAV has convinced a number of its high-profile customers to standardize their A/V platforms—the need of the hour at a time when hackers are relentlessly attempting data breaches. In the aftermath of the 2013 incident involving Target, especially, more of DDSAV’s clients are going the route of standardized systems. To its credit, DDSAV has gathered the needed expertise to reside on a customer’s network—behind the firewall—by adding several layers of security to ward off any hacker-led threats.
As an example, DDSAV worked closely with Whataburger’s IT team to standardize their conference rooms across locations and create a safe environment. “Today, every executive at Whataburger can walk into a meeting without having to worry about the technical specifications. Everything is standardized and a click-of-a-button away,” reveals Lisa, while adding that the ability to standardize A/V systems gives DDSAV a competitive edge.
Through standardization, DDSAV also solves three recurring challenges for IT managers, namely equipment downtime, user-based errors, and dated technology. According to Lisa, many organizations resort to low-grade A/V systems that lead to severe issues, forcing IT managers to fix the problems themselves. Furthermore, some businesses attempt to combine dated analog hardware with modern digital systems, another cause of downtime. “If you standardize, all these issues vanish immediately. Nobody requires any technical knowledge,” adds Lisa.
One A/V System, Multiple Experiences
When it comes to architecting a seamless, user-friendly experience, there is one customer success story that genuinely encapsulates the value of DDSAV.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has a large auditorium in its student center used for various events and gatherings, ranging from lectures, concerts, movie nights, to student announcements. The acoustics and ambiance for each event vary, and the technical specifications must be tuned accordingly to create the flawless A/V experience.
So, how exactly does the UTSA personnel overcome these technical hurdles?
Thanks to DDSAV’s masterful sound engineering and the way it designed the university’s speaker system, there are no hurdles. “They just have to press one giant button, for example, concert settings, and another button for a quieter ambiance,” informs Lisa.
The UTSA use case won DDSAV an award for Best Higher Ed Project. Similarly, DDSAV won the acclaim of industry peers for a government project involving the San Antonio Water System (SAWS). Due to government-imposed regulations, SAWS is required to have its board meetings on a specific streaming platform so that all information from the power plant is reported and trickled down accordingly. Knowing that its municipal client required archive-quality production and a linked digital conference system, DDSAV provided SAWS with an intuitive and trustworthy way for board members and the public to participate in a critical element of the city’s future. By replacing outdated analog A/V systems with intuitive A/V systems, DDSAV ensured SAWS could proceed with policymaking uninterrupted by system failures. “Post installation, we followed-through by scheduling personnel training sessions to get the municipal staff familiarized with the technology. We saved them significant money, and the client reported no issues whatsoever after operating the new system for over a year,” recounts Lisa.
Seven years later, DDSAV continues to manage all the equipment and services for SAWS.
Understanding Both Sides of the Coin
Long before scaling such steep mountains for its clients, DDSAV undertakes an initial assessment period to determine if a customer requires an A/V design from a budget standpoint or purely system capability. “Customers are always on one side or other of the pendulum. We are great listeners, and our job is to understand their needs,” adds Lisa.
This process proves timesaving to both DDSAV and the client, avoiding excessive back-and-forth interactions through the engagement. To ensure the assignment lifecycle is standardized and organized, DDSAV calls upon its in-house OS titled D Tools. The software is installed on everytablet used by a DDSAV technician, who accompanies a client service manager to every meeting. The specially-designed application allows DDSAV’s engineers to take measurement of rooms and check their acoustics, besides assessing other technical specifications.
Upon gathering the specs, the technicians return to “the lab” to build a solution while taking into cognizance the client’s end budget. During this process, DDSAV strictly undertakes Design Verification, and the sample solution reaches the client only after thorough screening. Once the customer approves the date of installation, DDSAV arrives at the scene to do the needful.
As highlighted in the above use cases, DDSAV’s engagement with the client does not end with the technology installation. DDSAV, after taking the client on a walkthrough, makes an effort to create a handbook that details every A/V system installed on the premises, along with guidelines and troubleshooting measures. This is a far cry from A/V integrators who are known to deploy technology and flee the scene. “Our engagement with the client never ends,” says Lisa.
Showcasing the Technology Toy Store
This education—that DDSAV seems so intent on providing—is not restricted to existing clients. Recently, DDSAV launched its technology resource center or “Technology Toy Store” in an 8,000-square-foot facility. Located on a major freeway, by the San Antonio Airport, the facility is bolstered by a giantsized digital sign out front that is visible to 14 lines of traffic.
So, what can one find inside the resource center?
Besides showcasing the latest, most cutting-edge A/V equipment, the Technology Toy Store serves as a knowledge hub for IT managers, CIOs, and even consumers who wish to invest in commercial A/V equipment. Every month, the showroom will host forums encouraging various parties and organizations to engage in constructive dialogue.
With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of the business world, DDSAV is determined to train IT managers, on unique ways to work-from-home and keep employees safe. “We can create a system which includes Zoom, Microsoft Teams, TeamViewer, and Webex, showing IT managers the pros and cons of unified collaboration. This is their way to determine what works best for their organization,” explains Lisa. Furthermore, with work-from-home set to become the norm, a simple zoom video conference on a laptop would not suffice. “Even regular employees will need commercial A/V systems and service maintenance,” predicts Lisa.
The center is also preparing for a post-lockdown world with virtual receptionists (a live person on a TV screen), a temperature gauge at the entrance, and other social distancing measures.
As part of its roadmap, DDSAV plans to launch Technology Toy Stores across the country. The company also expects to enter the avenue of A/V lighting and solar panels in the future. “We believe this initiative will take commercial A/V to the next level. CIOs have a million questions, and with A/V technology moving so rapidly, they need a place where they can trust experts, self-educate, and collaborate. This is what Technology Toy Store provides,” reveals Lisa.
An exceptionally bright future awaits DDSAV, which is nearing its 20th anniversary. “A/V remains a dark area, and there is not enough education on the subject. We want to showcase our knowledge and talent while imparting the needed education,” concludes Lisa.