The business side of cabling

In a high-technology industry like cabling, it is sometimes easy to forget that we are in business. Rapid technological change focuses us on keeping up with electronics and optics, and our daily as well as weekly and monthly whirl of activities provides us with trade shows, technical journals, standards meetings, and new-product announcements aimed at filling these informational needs. But how do we keep up with the business side of cabling?

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Group Editorial Director

arlynp@pennwell.com

In a high-technology industry like cabling, it is sometimes easy to forget that we are in business. Rapid technological change focuses us on keeping up with electronics and optics, and our daily as well as weekly and monthly whirl of activities provides us with trade shows, technical journals, standards meetings, and new-product announcements aimed at filling these informational needs. But how do we keep up with the business side of cabling?

This is a question I`m asked frequently because at least once a week, I get a phone call from a contractor who wants to know more about the size of the cabling-services market, the range of salaries paid to installers in different regions of the country, or the answer to one of a hundred other business questions that affects his or her livelihood. Because I`m asked such questions so frequently, I`ve looked around for answers and have been surprised to discover that not much information is available on cabling services.

It`s true that there are several market research firms that study the cabling industry, both domestically and worldwide, but mostly they focus on the hardware--cabling, components, and active equipment--rather than on who installs it.

To remedy this situation--and so that I can have good news for that weekly caller looking for business information--Cabling Installation & Maintenance has undertaken the first formal study of the cabling-services market. The results of this research will be presented at the first Structured Cabling Marketplace (scm) Seminar, to be held this month at Cabling Installation Expo `98 in Atlanta, GA (see "Seminar offers market analysis, technology discussion," page 78).

In our December 1998 issue, we hope to summarize some of our findings, and next year we plan to publish a special supplement on business issues in the cabling industry. This coverage will be broad-based, and it will be explicit--that is, we`re not just going to be talking about dollars and cents. We`ll be looking at competitive bidding, licensing, and the regulatory environment; manufacturer warranty and value-added reseller programs; the rise of national integration and installation chains; and installer training and certification.

My sense from the comments and questions I hear in the field is that these can be life-and-death issues. They hit us where we live. They are about success--and failure. We at Cabling Installation & Maintenance have always striven to give you the technical information you need to succeed--the information about products, technologies, and standards. We are also concerned about your business success, and we will be focusing more of our attention on helping you with the business side of cabling in the future.

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