What is it that allows Harman to be innovative as a manufacturer?
The intent and driving force behind what we do is that we do like to innovate; we spend a significant amount of money on engineering per year. The number that we spend on engineering is typically more than a lot of the brands that we compete with in the industry. I always remind everybody, if we're talking about loudspeakers, we're still developing our own transducers, we're still developing our own horns and acoustic designs, we're still developing patents every year.
The same thing with amplifiers – we're doing the amplifier design – and on the BSS side, we're doing all the DSP and the algorithm work. You see that play out across the entire portfolio, whether we're talking about lighting, video or control at AMX – we are actually developing real products ourselves, and we take it very seriously that we're progressing the industry each time that we do a new product.
If you look at all the brands, most of them are 40, 50, even 70 or 80 years old, and that's been the driving force behind why they're still relevant and successful in the market. It’s that bend towards technology and making sure that we're adding to the industry as we go forward.
What are you working on now at Harman and what kind of use cases are you solving?
The biggest initiative across the organization right now is our next generation, installed AV system. Very challenging! The ability to combine audio and video and control into one system on consolidated networks and having a similar security platform across all of it. Doing digital audio and digital video is very challenging. What we're about to bring to market over the next 12 months will be impressive; all the feedback has been really great from the customer side – we take it very seriously in terms of getting input and having those checks throughout the process.
That's the biggest thing that we're working on. It's exciting. It's certainly challenging. It's hundreds of engineers at one time globally, across multiple different sites, doing everything from hardware design to software development. What we bring to the market over the next 12 months is going to help the industry take a big step forward.
Do you have any advice for the industry?
I think the biggest thing that we at Harman have, at least over the past few years, learned to focus on is what we're good at. It's too easy to just put your brand on something or go use a development partner regardless of where they are in the world, and not really add any value.
For us at Harman and for those that are the industry darlings that get held up as the ones that continue to add value and innovate – just continue doing it. This industry is really exciting. At the end of the day, it's all about entertainment, helping people feel good and providing an experience. My biggest advice would be to continue to innovate, continue to add value. That's where you'll see the brands that win and lose over the next five to 10 years; it will be the ones that continue to invest and innovate in the industry that win.
Listen to the full interview with Andy Flint on Headliner Radio, here: