50 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Tools for integrators Software and services are available to help integrators be more efficient, more productive – and more proﬁtable. Ian McMurray looks at tools for system design, documentation, sales and business performance
Enabling fast, simple room conﬁguration SI 2017 and cloud February this year saw the introduction by AMX of Rapid Project Maker (RPM) v3.0. RPM is a cloud-based application that guides users (typically AV technicians or IT professionals) through setting up, conﬁguring and connecting devices such as presentation switchers, touch panels, displays and more. It uses a step-by-step approach to conﬁgure, deploy and commission huddle spaces, meeting rooms, executive boardrooms, classrooms and so on. Although designed primarily for use with AMX systems, RPM – which is free for AMX customers – will map to third-party devices such as displays (touchpanels and switchers must be from AMX). In addition to conﬁguring devices, RPM also provides user interface templates, so that meeting participants have a consistent user experience – from room to room and building to building. Without RPM, AMX says, automating a conference room requires extensive programming skills and custom code.
According to the company, users can set up an entire room system or building in an hour or less; its intuitive design means that no initial training is required. RPM users can store their projects on amx.com and access and manage them from anywhere. AMX’s Resource Management Suite Enterprise (separately available) can link with RPM for remote asset management, scheduling, and remote monitoring and control of equipment.
Service provides alternative to software designﬂow is a design and documentation service for systems integrators working in smart buildings and home technology, aimed at increasing integrators’ proﬁtability. The company says it can take on any size of project at any stage, from producing the initial proposal through to the M&E handover pack, and any stage in between. The overriding reason to use designﬂow’s services, the company says, is to save an integrator’s time; it is said to represent a seriously viable alternative to investing in software and the associated learning curve. UK-based designﬂow only works with systems integrators and has over 40 years’ experience of working in, and designing for, this market. The company notes that all its designers are CEDIA ESC-D certified, and have won many industry awards over the years. designflow uses InfoComm and CEDIA standards to help ensure the designs it delivers are fit for purpose.
Using Autodesk AutoCAD and Microsoft Visio, and integrating with most major business platforms including QuickBooks, Microsoft, SAP, and more, D-Tools SI 2017 is designed to enable integrators to understand and better perform key functions of their business – estimation, system design, and project management. The latest version has a cloud infrastructure which adds signiﬁcant new capabilities and performance enhancements that can be accessed from any internet-enabled device. It also includes a new Business Intelligence (BI) engine and visual reporting features. Using the BI feature, users can view vital information across multiple projects with preconﬁgured visual reports and dashboard views of key performance indicators. These new reporting capabilities enable deeper analysis of business activities and trends such as proﬁt analysis, product usage, vendor engagement, personnel performance and sales pipeline. Integrators can also create custom reports. SI 2017 also features a new Customer Portal, which enables D-Tools users to publish project documents to the web for client comment, acceptance and e-signature approval. The Customer Portal is designed to facilitate collaboration and increase client engagement, even across time zones and mobile platforms. Users can share proposals, contracts, change orders, drawings, cut sheets, user manuals and other client-facing documents via the web. To review, comment on and accept (or reject) the documents presented, clients simply click on an emailed link and log into a secure web portal.
designﬂow represents zero cost to the integrator, as its fees are simply passed on to the client. designﬂow provides sample projects to integrators, allowing them to demonstrate to their clients what is involved in the design of a complete system. designﬂow believes this is an invaluable aid in selling the design fee to the client. The company has conﬁdentiality agreements with all its customers.