VARs Look Homeward for New Revenue Opportunity

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Getting the new HDTV to work with all the other components ahead of the Super Bowl can be mission critical in the home, and now CompTIA and CEA are helping VARs to get certified as Digital Home Technology Integrators to take advantage of that revenue oppo

Year after year, HDTV sales spike in the week before the Super Bowl as consumers buy the big screens and invite friends and family over to watch the game.

But what do you do when you hook up the new screen and it doesn't work? What if you hook it up and there is no sound? Or you have cables running down your wall?

That's part of the opportunity that the CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) and the Consumer Electronics Association wants to help member VARs take advantage of—installing and integrating home entertainment systems, home networks and other home computing and electronic systems.

The two organizations have recently launched a revamped DHTI (Digital Home Technology Integrator+) certification, giving VARs a chance to capture the growing business in home entertainment and automation.

According to information compiled by CEPro newsletter, custom integrators anticipate sales growth of nearly 15 percent in 2007. That compares to 35 percent growth in 2006 for the typical home integrator, the organization said.

"This is a growing area," said Miles Jobgen, product manager for Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based CompTIA's skills development department. "We really look for this industry to be a new trade within the home and an opportunity for a domestic workforce to latch onto."

VARs who gain this certification are also likely to find continuing revenue opportunities in service contracts, said Jobgen.

VARs participating in this new field typically come from two places, traditional IT VARs that are looking to expand their businesses, and consumer electronics consultants such as home theater designers and security installers.

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Brett Griffin, co-founder of Bothell, Wash.-based Architectronics, was among about 20 people who helped CompTIA and CEA compile the certification exam, and he plans to use it to screen potential employees at his company.

Griffin's background is in home automation, and he's seen business boom over the past several years. But he noted that many computer technicians are getting into the field of home integration.

"There are a lot of technicians who are coming into the home to do network routers and are then being asked by the homeowner, 'Hey, can you hook up this home entertainment system?'" Griffin said. "They realize they can branch out and do home theater and home automation too."

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The DHTI certification from CompTIA and Arlington, Va.-based CEA covers general home technology including integrated systems, computer systems, basic home networking, home theaters, from cabling to speakers to components and video displays, home automation and basics of security systems.

Griffin said that the certification exam would be easy to pass for someone who had been in the industry for many years. Someone with two years of experience could pass with a little studying, he said.

Jobgen noted that CompTIA offers a large training network to help technicians gain the know-how needed to pass the certification, including courses from private training companies and community colleges.

"We think there is a lot of potential for this kind of business," said Jobgen.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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