Joe Zaller at Devoncroft examines who broadcast hardware and software vendors think is the most important decision maker at their customers. Broadcast engineers remain the most important perceived decision maker, but vendors still predict that our importance will decrease over time. The only thing is that vendors have been making that same prediction for years.

Zaller suspects that broadcast engineers have learned the skills they need to avoid replacement as decision makers and that vendors “tend to over-predict the velocity of change in the market.”

I think things have not changed for a different reason. Broadcast engineers are still making decisions on technology for the sake of technology. We see the same old pattern: “We need a new graphics box. We’ll get this one. Hey Graphics, here is your new platform, figure out how to use it to do most of what you need.” This is the decision making that stems from the “What does the product do?” Wrong Question.

Like needing to ask requirements gathering questions to tailor the solution to the business, broadcast engineers need to work in equal partnership with the other departments Zaller cites to make decisions. Operations, IT, and Finance all bring useful skills and opinions to the table. Senior management should also be part of the partnership. Operations knows their business needs, IT brings a deep technological background, Finance understands the cost of a system versus the revenue potential of that system, and senior management can address the strategic value of a project.

Continue to make decisions your own, and your systems will continue to be under used. Your project will still be behind schedule and over budget. Worse still, you will continue to feel the friction and tension of competing with other departments. Broadcast engineers will still feel like management does not understand us and IT is trying to squeeze us out. Create a decision-making partnership and you will create a stronger, more adaptable, more enduring broadcast engineering organization.