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Relationship Advice For AV Practitioners

Relationships are everything. Let’s face it—they rule the world. They can make a day or ruin it. Relationships are at the heart of every business transaction and every personal journey. Whether you’re at work, at home or somewhere on the road in between, you have to deal with other people.

And, apparently, it takes work to be in an enduring relationship. It doesn’t just happen. You’ve read the countless articles
and watched the videos about how to “get along” with all kinds of people: your colleagues, your kids…even your pets. All the advice seems to confirm that the number-one relationship builder is communication. Keeping lines of communication open is paramount to a positive, productive give-and-take relationship. If you practice sound communication skills (yes, I meant to say that), you’re on the road to success at home and out in the world.

There’s a relationship that wise AV practitioners should never ignore. It’s the one they have with IT departments. From the start, AV systems have challenged IT networks to rise to increased bandwidth requirements and a neverending thirst for more. Although there are exceptions to every rule, by and large, the relationship between IT and AV has been rocky to this point.

The good news is, we can do our part to make this relationship work by following some simple communication guidelines.

We can start by following the recommendations that AVIXA just published for this special relationship. As AV professionals, we know what keeps IT staff up at night (besides a 24/7 security operations center): Hacks, downtime and bandwidth are certainly the top three.

Recommended Practices for Security in Networked AV Systems (AVIXA RPC303.01:2018) identifies things you have to do right now to protect not only your system, but also the network it’s relying on. Recommendations include things like simply documenting all the AV devices that require network access and their potential vulnerabilities; creating a risk register to help IT departments make effective security decisions; and ensuring AV equipment is reflected in IT policy.

The Recommended Practices document is full of action items that should be followed in every single case—period. The to-do list follows a logical order and isn’t complicated. It represents a starting point, and, at a minimum, the practices should be part of your everyday business model. Let your IT team know that you follow these guidelines, and, please, communicate the fact that you’re using industry-recommended practices. Show the document to them—they’ll really appreciate it! The IT staff lives and dies by standards. You’ll be speaking their language, and it’ll help improve the trust factor between you.

And be transparent. Communicate your needs and intentions to IT stakeholders early on. The sooner the better. By being transparent about the space you’re going to take up, you will show them that you (a) know your stuff and are organized, (b) understand their need for planning ahead and (c) want to provide them with a level of confidence that you can work together to deliver a reliable—if not exceptional—experience.

I don’t know about you, but, to me, this doesn’t sound like a very hard task. Many of you are probably doing some of the things recommended by AVIXA RP-C303.01:2018. But, as is often the case, you might be missing some crucial practices that you hadn’t thought of; thus, it’s in your best interest to heed the advice of the experts.

You can be sure that practicing AV-system-security hygiene is how you should start if you want to do your part. Your IT counterpart will have the comfort of knowing that the AV practitioner is following recommended practices to the letter. That means a lot, especially in this relationship.

The IT practitioners have a lot to learn from you, too. By showing them that you understand their world and you’re respectful of their network, you are opening the door to meaningful, two-way communication. There’s no downside. The sooner the IT staff starts to listen to you, the sooner they’ll realize the incredible knowledge and talent every AV professional uses daily to deliver the amazing experiences that people want. Your relationship will flourish. Get busy!

You can learn more, and download Recommended Practices for Security in Networked AV Systems, at www.avixa.org/avsecurity. The publication is free to AVIXA Premium and Elite members. And let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear from you at standards@avixa.org.

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