GPA Blog: Time flies

Ben Smit, Manager International Business Development


It is February already, and there is something in the air. There always seems to be a certain sense of positive tension around this time of year. The world’s largest trade fair in my field is due to open in just a week’s time. Integrated System Europe (ISE) is also one of the largest events hosted in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. And the large number of international visitors that the trade fair attracts is also good for the city’s economy. Furthermore, it is the ideal opportunity for me to catch up with members of the Global Presence Alliance (GPA), the international network of AV System Integrators, in my own country.

The last occasion that we met one another was at the annual event in Brazil, which actually seems such a short time ago. Our previous meeting remains fresh in my memory, as a result of all that I experienced there.

During the meeting, the GPA board brought us up to speed on its plans for the period ahead. These included the further evolution of the GPA Alliance to become a private limited company (B.V.). This hurdle was successfully negotiated on 1 December last year, thus creating a more formal relationship between the GPA and its members, which enables us to better meet our commitments to global customers. In addition, Julian Philips (former GPA Board Director) went on to explain the unique aspects of the GPA. A naturally gifted storyteller, Mr Philips made reference to the system of plutocracy applied by the Roman Empire. This was a method of governance whereby the wealthy at the time held power, and therefore passed legislation applicable to the rest of society. It is one of the pitfalls that can be encountered when an organisation becomes very large.

The GPA, in stark contrast, applies a pluralist system. It is an alliance which unites members with various ideas and visions. In fact, it is more or less comparable to Dutch society, which has become more pluralistic due to the arrival of immigrants in the country. And Mr Philips’ analogy is highly accurate. The GPA comprises various cultures in which all members retain their own individuality, while nevertheless jointly forming one big club. It has a unique style of collaboration, which is also highly tangible.

Such a week also gives us the opportunity to get better acquainted with one another. And this is not restricted solely to GPA members, as a number of suppliers exhibiting there also organised a couple of workshops. The most exceptional experience, however, was a visit to the charity project sponsored by our Brazilian host, Absolut Technologies in. The project in question is a school for underprivileged children, which provides mainly singing, dance and sports activities. It was nice to witness a GPA partner’s support for such a significant project.

I experience such a week as a warm, constructive occasion, because you feel the members’ willingness to go the extra mile.  Everything therefore seems to gather momentum, as people cooperate responsibly, with our common interests at heart. This approach enables us to virtually move mountains, and therefore truly make a difference.

Although I have had the good fortune to be treated to a sneak preview of the ISE, I nevertheless eagerly look forward to the week ahead. If you have any doubts whatsoever about paying a visit to this jungle of audio-visual innovations, then perhaps one of my colleagues or I might serve as your guide. Just email me.

Ben Smit is an international Business Development manager at AVEX. He was added to the AVEX team on the basis of his extensive experience. He also participates in the Global Presence Alliance (GPA) on behalf of AVEX. The GPA is a select network of more than 25 prominent solution providers of audiovisual and unified communications solutions.