WHAT’S IN A NAME?

We’ve never been big on the whole job title front. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve nothing against those whose job comes with a title, it’s just that it really isn’t something that any of us a very comfortable with.

Managing Directors, Technical Managers and Sales Executives abound in any industry, with even a good handful of Chief Technical Officers and even Experiential Designers cropping up in our sector. At the end of the day, Majik House is eight people and a three-legged dog, so giving ourselves titles is more than a bit superfluous especially when there are times when we undertake any task that needs doing – we just get on and do it. (Yes, I know it’s my turn to make a brew…)

This is fine and dandy until someone asks us what we do, what’s our job: I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been put on the spot and completely lost for words. Or to be more precise, lost for just a couple of words which will encapsulate what I and Majik House do.

“Home automation” is the fall-back but even as I say these two words I can see people’s eyes glazing over. “Custom install” is slightly more succinct, but generally guarantees a similar reaction.

To rescue an awkward social situation usually means moving quickly on to safer ground and rolling out the words that will hopefully put things into context – cinema rooms, audio systems, smart homes, control etc – until that lightbulb moment when we hit on a familiar phrase.

The home automation / custom install industry (see, I’m still not even sure what to say!) has been around for a good few years, evolving from various sectors such as lighting, high-end audio, TV, home security, so we’re not talking about something which has arrived out of the blue over the last few years. People are familiar with The Internet of Things, controlling physical equipment or vehicles or buildings through a network via a remote device, yet no-one really knows what to call it and therefore we don’t know what to call ourselves.

I know that I’m not alone on this front: just about all of the industry also struggle to get to grips with common descriptors that are easy to communicate with confidence, safe in the knowledge that the wider world will understand.

It used to keep me awake at night, but then I got a life.

That was until an article popped up in my Inbox earlier this week from the very good Residential Systems website. The author is Todd Anthony Puma of Source Home Theater Installation in New York, and his article titled is titled “What Do You Call Yourself? CEDIA Has a Suggestion”.

As you can imagine, this I was hooked straight away and simply had to read further. It starts out by covering the exact experiences I’ve mentioned above and goes on to offer a solution, an encompassing word that none other than CEDIA (the international association for the industry) themselves have championed.

That word is technologists.

So, imagine the scenario, here comes the question: “What do you do, Tim?”

“Thank you for asking.” I say, “I’m a technologist.”

“……….oh. How nice for you.” Toddles off to the bar to get away from this (obviously) mad man.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this isn’t quite the Holy Grail that I was seeking. OK, so it might then lead on to the next question of “So what does a ‘technologist’ do?” at which point we can all elaborate further, but it’s still not something that I can see becoming part of business parlance any time in the near future. To me it sounds a bit white lab coat, mad scientist and Einstein hair styles, uber-geekish.

Surely it’s not rocket science? Then again, maybe it is…

Do we need to devote some serious investment to this, pull together some of the greatest creative minds in the pursuit of the elusive words that encapsualte who we are and what we do?

Do we launch a Blue Peter-esque competition, inviting people to pop their suggestions on a postcard or sealed-down envelope and we’ll pick the winner at random?

Seriously, this has started to niggle me again. I’m becoming more than just a bit obsessive about this. What about the next generation of school children? They may want to get into the industry but what do they tick on the forms their career teachers put in front of them?

Engineer? No.

Marketing? Nah, not for me.

Logistics Manager? Not going anywhere…

Person who assesses a client’s needs for smart control of their home encompassing networking, lighting design, security, audio and visual systems (plus ongoing system maintenance and upgrading)? Tick.

We’re not going to solve this any time soon, so I’m going to try and move on with my life and focus on my day job, whatever that is.

I’ll also stick with my current business cards, the ones which just say: Tim Burrow, Majik House.

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