I know and appreciate all the things my phone can do. It is an incredible piece of technology. It can predict where I’m headed, when I get close to my car, and tell me how long it’ll take to get there. It can help me live a healthier life. It can tell me a joke. It can teach me new languages. It can even be used as a phone from time to time! But, in reality, what do I mostly use it for? Text-based messaging, listening to podcasts, social media and…dare I say it?…Candy Crush. (I’ll be the first to admit I have a problem.) I use the fancy stuff every now and again, but I don’t use it anywhere near its full potential. Naturally, this got me thinking of AV systems.
So many control systems being rolled out have all these hooks for analytics. The system can measure how often the room is used, as well as if the technology is used at all. They can compare room bookings to actual room usage. The system can keep track of the most used (and underused) sources and functions in a system. These measurements can be linked to individual users and identify serial “over-bookers,” who schedule meetings in the conference room all day, but never actually show up. The system can ask users if the technology performed well, or if service is required. The control system can automatically send messages to support staff if some device goes off line.
However, are users taking advantage of these incredible features, or are they just playing Candy Crush?
I’ll take it a step further. Are we as an industry making sure these analytics are actually collecting the data we expect them to, and is anyone sitting down with the client on a yearly basis to review what all this data means? I think this could be a huge revenue stream for us, especially as more and more “conference rooms in a box” come to market to take our lunch. However, a few things need to happen before this can become a reality:
- Since we are relying on our systems for this data, it is even more imperative that they are 100% complete with no defects. Human users can adapt to small system flaws. Computers cannot.
- We need to make sure the data is actually being collected. In a world of SLCBs (Small Little Check Boxes), it is easy to forget to turn reporting on.
- We need to figure out how to interpret all this data into something users can digest. It’s all well and good to know that Conference Room B is being used 99.9% of the time. We need to come up with room efficiency targets and tolerances that translate into floor/building planning directives, i.e., If you have only two conference spaces on a floor, and they are running at above 85% efficiency…you may need more conference spaces for your users. Or, if the VGA input at the table is used less than 10% of the time, can we finally kill it off?
Not only could this be a great service to offer clients, but think about the position it puts the industry in. It allows us to get in front of the real estate and architectural planners! Instead of being the last kid asked to prom (AV is always forgotten in the construction meetings), we get to be on the prom planning committee!
Instead of just playing Candy Crush with our AV systems, we can start to take full advantage of their features. This might be another powerful tool to elevate the AV industry to its rightful position during the programming phase of projects, instead of just being an afterthought.