AV Police Squad

Conference Rooms: Should You Place All Your Eggs In One Basket?

When thinking performance, don't forget supportability.

When I was a kid I would wear Reebok sneakers because they came with a pump and that was rad. I would wear Adidas pants because Run DMC sang about them. I would wear an old Nike t-shirt because it was the most comfortable piece of clothing I owned. In other words, I was optimized. Kids nowadays, in order to be “on fleek,” have to have all their brands coordinated. “You can’t have Under Armor pants with a Sweaty Betty tank! What’s the matter with you?!” That got me thinking about AV.

Most designers would encourage each device in a system to be methodically selected to provide the client the best solution for their particular needs. This makes a ton of sense, of course. However, something that is often left out of the selection process is how easy the system will be to support after the installation is completed. Once the project is done, the designer and installer, for the most part, step away from the system and leave it with the client to maintain. The project might be completed, but the life of the system has only begun.

I was recently speaking with a client about a manufacturer’s new product line. This particular manufacturer had ventured into this line of product before with less than stellar results, and I was expressing my hesitation about wasting more time with their new stuff because I didn’t want to be disappointed again. My client brought up the point, however, that managing devices from one manufacturer is so much easier than managing the typical mish-mosh of names in an equipment rack. Even if it didn’t perform as well as its competitors, it still might be the best solution.

That blew me away. I couldn’t believe it.

My client, who owns hundreds of systems around the world, is willing to implement a lesser performing product into his conference rooms because it is easier to manage. He has a great relationship with the manufacturer. It will work seamlessly with their enterprise monitoring. It will play nicely on their network.

He was actually starting to convince me. I used to think that these manufacturers that are trying to offer the entire conference room solution didn’t know what they were doing. Why would a video manufacturer start to make audio products? They can’t compete with the audio-only product guys, and vice versa. They might not have to be the best, and, as crazy as it sounds, selecting them might be good for the client.

So, it might not be that bad to have all your eggs in one basket. I’ll be the first to admit when I was young, wearing that mix ‘n match of free advertising for those brand names, I was not voted “Best Dressed” in my class. Getting all the bits for a business-class conference room used to make me nervous because there were better performing mixers, or switchers, or controllers, or whatever available from other manufacturers. In focusing on the performance of the technology, I was missing a key aspect of the design for my clients: supportability.

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