Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - 55

SPONSORED CONTENT
Empowering Integrators to
Serve Higher-Ed Tech Managers
Starin's Jennifer Weaver acts as a consultative advisor to leading education institutions,
gaining key knowledge that helps resellers elevate education outcomes.
H
igher ed is on the move. From education
technology managers' ubiquity at
InfoComm 2023 to the HETMA roadshow
crisscrossing the country, higher education is
flexing its muscles and staking its claim as our most vibrant vertical.
But it's also a unique market, which presents distinctive needs and is
prone to common integrator misconceptions. Few industry members
understand this vertical better than Jennifer Weaver, business development
manager - education, with Starin. She was, after all, named
Best Higher Ed Ally at the inaugural Higher Ed AV Awards this year.
Weaver is a former high-school math teacher who later worked
on the integration and manufacturing sides before then moving to
distribution. Commercial Integrator turned to her to highlight the ripe
opportunity in higher ed, as well as how Starin and she are working
to help integration businesses leverage it.
Embracing Education Technology Managers
Weaver believes the integration channel should embrace education
leaders' increasing prevalence in our circles because in education,
perhaps more than in any other market, resellers and tech managers
really need one another to achieve outstanding outcomes. As a
former teacher, Weaver knows how difficult it is for a non-pedagogue
to tap into the instructional mindset required to understand
students' learning needs. " We understand what that widget does, "
Weaver says of resellers/integrators. " But we're not understanding
how it's going to be applicable in the space. " Meanwhile, higher-ed
tech managers have an intimate understanding of what's required to
foster learning, make professors more comfortable and keep environments
operational. But, although many colleges have highly
robust in-house technology teams, almost all of them seek to partner
with integrators for large, ambitious deployments.
To be effective partners, integrators must recognize that education
end users are quite different from, say, corporate clients. It's paramount
for each collaborator to acknowledge and respect the other's
abilities. " They're getting their CTS, they're attending InfoComm
[and] they're attending all of these other trade shows, " Weaver says of
higher-ed tech managers. " They're really making it a point to say, 'We
know it. Just help us do it better.' "
A Consultative Role
In her role at Starin, Weaver sees a desire to " do it better " put into
action every day. She spends countless hours visiting college campuses,
touring facilities with tech directors or directors of media
services. Her role is as consultant and advisor, asking questions and
empowering those learning institutions to enhance their education
outcomes. While on campus, she explores each space, evaluating
everything from room naming to technology standardization. During
the tours, Weaver examines whether the
education institution has standardized products
like projectors and interactive displays.
If not, then she might convey some of the
benefits of doing so - everything from efficiencies in purchasing
to professor ease of use.
Starin offers excellent options for projectors (e.g., Barco, Vivitek)
and interactive displays (e.g., SMART Technologies, Vivitek, LG), but
Weaver's ultimate goal is to foster understanding and build a relationship
with that education institution. " I just want them to feel comfortable
knowing that I'm going to understand what their standard
is, regardless of if it's a Starin manufacturer, " she declares. Weaver also
takes the opportunity to elevate the technology manager's consciousness
about emerging technology needs. One example would be mass-notification
systems, which have seen tremendous investment in the K-12
market but whose uptake has been slower in higher ed. Ultimately, if
the college chooses to invest in fresh technology, Weaver emphasizes
Starin's readiness to work with any integrator/reseller the client selects.
The Truth about Higher Ed
Weaver's deep ties to the higher-ed world give her insight into a few
misconceptions that the reseller channel has. Too often, the word
" education " calls to mind textbooks and blackboards, she says, rather
than the media-rich environments that students occupy today. " They
want the technology, " Weaver says of colleges, speaking emphatically.
" It's so different [from K-12]. " She also underscores that, unlike K-12,
colleges often bring ambitious projects to life. " They may not have the
budget to do it today, " Weaver begins, " but there's grants that they're
writing - they find the funding. " And given ongoing competition
among institutions of higher learning, any one campus' successful
deployment is likely to inspire other colleges to seek to top it.
When Weaver joined Starin, she, along with Bill Reimer, vice president
of sales, was prescient in seeing immense potential to grow the
education part of the business. And that's exactly what the distribution
leader did. Meanwhile, Weaver, in her role as consultative advisor,
has become a genuine higher-education subject matter expert. " I'm
having these conversations with higher-ed institutions and gaining all
this knowledge, " she says. " And it's only turning around and helping
[the reseller channel]. " Indeed, Weaver says she hopes to make the
integrators themselves education subject-matter experts - to dramatically
expand their own knowledge base. " I'm a teacher by heart,
so it gets me, " she smiles. " I love getting information out. "
Asked for closing thoughts, Weaver expresses her earnest connection
to the education community - the tapestry she emerged from and still
remains a part of. " It's a passion, " she declares, saying that winning the
sale is secondary. " Higher ed is a community - a very, very strong community, "
Weaver concludes. " They've set the bar pretty high. "

Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023

Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - Bellyband 1
Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - Bellyband 2
Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - Cover1
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Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - Cover3
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