Q&A with Chris Birks from Proactive AV

Q&A with Chris Birks from Proactive AV
on 04 August 2017

An Independent AV Consultant 

We speak to Chris Birks, MD of Proactive AV, a leading AV integrator

What does Proactive AV do?

We are responsible for installing 1000s of AV solutions into mainly education premises, but more recently into corporate sites. We focus on delivering the complete package to our clients – and that means onsite demonstrations, installation by our own DBS approved engineers, followed by full user training and ongoing support.

What is your typical installation?  

It could be anything from a single interactive touchscreen installed in a classroom, to 50+ screens in a large school across all classrooms. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that school budgets are getting tighter and headteachers need to be able to clearly demonstrate a return on investment to the school’s various stakeholders in-order-to get the required allocation of funds from the budget pot. Therefore, it’s imperative that the technology is installed correctly and teachers receive training so they feel comfortable with using the equipment – and can show how it improves learning outcomes. Headteachers also need to feel they can trust the AV partner so should anything happen post install, they can rely on them to rectify the problem immediately rather than simply passing them to the manufacturer or another 3rd party.

We are now seeing growing interest from commercial companies and as such, introduced a corporate division in 2016. We are already working with several corporate clients – and like schools, they too expect a demonstrable return on their investment in technology.

How do you approach specifying technology for a project?

We work with our clients to understand their pain points.

For a teacher, it could be old technology that needs constant recalibration in lesson time or interactive software that’s simply a bit old-hat and isn’t retaining pupils’ attention.

For a corporate it could be the inability to screen share across multiple mobile devices and platforms, participation of attendees working remotely or simply the need to annotate on the screen, store and share in real-time.

We build a solution depending on what the client wants to achieve, this could be with a single touchscreen or a mix of various AV solutions to incorporate their needs. We conduct proof-of-concept demonstrations on-site to show what a huge difference the technology can make to the client’s organisation.

What kind of projects would you specify Clevertouch?

Clevertouch is the most popular touchscreen in education – its combination of cutting-edge hardware, the latest software and superb reliability have all helped to secure its position as the market leader. We’ve installed over 5,000 Clevertouch screens our trainers have carried out over 650 training courses. This means our repeat business is fantastic and our list of references is growing by the day.

One of the reasons Clevertouch is so in-tune with end-user requirements is its dynamic development strategy. As an AV consultant, we know what our prospective clients need – sometimes even before they do! In a way, we act as the ears and eyes of Clevertouch – we relay these requirements back to Clevertouch, and they listen to our recommendations, and more-often-than-not, they are included in future technology releases.

We fully expect the recently launched Clevertouch Pro to perform equally as well within the corporate sector.

How do you help the client decide?

We run pre-sales demonstrations and/or trials of hardware and software on a client’s premises for all the products we specify, including Clevertouch V-Series, Pro-Series and the Plus-Series.

Alternatively, clients can visit Clevertouch demonstration suites in London, Leeds or at our offices in Cambridgeshire where all the Clevertouch products are on display.

How important is training and user adoption?

Training is always a real challenge in schools. A lot of people are terrified of technology having had no training since they started teaching; in some cases well over 20 years ago. That’s why as trainers we make our training sessions easy to digest and pertinent to the audience in front of us.

Not only do we constantly review our training material to include the newest and best features within Lynx but crucially we always train using the customers own equipment. Nothing makes customers feel more at home then when you show them all these amazing features working on their own computers. Using staff computers also allows us to spot any problems with proxy settings or resources they have not downloaded, etc. anything that might stop them using the fantastic new software.

This is one of the reasons our rates of adoption are so high and why we leave with people saying; ‘This is just like SMART but better’ or ‘This is like interactive PowerPoint’. Whenever we hear feedback like this it is music to our ears because it means they understand the concept and they are excited to use Lynx 5, Snowflake, Clevermaths and most importantly Proactive

What support is there for clients during and after the screens are installed?

We’re independent regarding the installation and everything is done in house by Proactive employees – this is backed-up by a Clevertouch five-year warranty. However, when we do need advice or run into a technical issue, the response from the Clevertouch technical support team is immediate.

We handle the front-line support and undertake our own training for teachers and corporate end-users, although Clevertouch does have its own specialist in-house team of trainers, many of whom are ex-teachers. We also ensure our technical skills and product knowledge are fully up-to-date with each new product release through a series of regular meetings with the technical product team.

All-in-all we’ve enjoyed a 13-year partnership with the Clevertouch team, and that’s because the quality of the technology and service we receive is amazing.