We can see disruption all around us. Over the past two decades, the increase in internet speed, the growth of computational power and the decreasing costs of storage have drastically changed the way we live and work. This democratization of data and technology gives all of us easier access to things we never could have imagined, and that’s what makes today such an exciting time for the AV industry.
Disruption is a given in today’s rapidly changing enterprise environment. In many organizations, AV is now part of IT. But no longer can IT be reactive and transactional; today, it has to be innovative and transformational.
As the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) suggests, AV is the area of technology that can make or break the user experience. However, as technology evolves, we in the industry have to embrace this transformation—if we do not, we risk becoming irrelevant. Innovative technology is needed to simplify, secure and speed up the deployment of new initiatives like the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and mobility. In doing so, there are six critical imperatives for organizations to consider:
- Employing software to drive efficiency.
- Leveraging scalability.
- Transforming the workplace with a better employee experience.
- Taking a proactive approach to security.
- Embracing cloud technology.
- Renewing a focus on results.
AV has a role to play in each of those imperatives. It’s simply a matter of identifying how AV can add value.
Employing Software To Drive Efficiency
Traditional AV hardware technology has struggled to keep up. Its time-intensive legacy processes have become redundant, causing a wasting of resources that is negatively impacting business outcomes. Rather than deploying hardware that requires proprietary programming, encourage the use of standards-based software and applications, enabling improved agility and productivity. That way, you can focus personnel on higher-value innovation and creativity, rather than repetitive processes.
Most software also gives us the ability to collect data, so that, based on real-time insights, we can make better decisions as the services are used in different geographic regions. Adding machine learning to these environments further allows us to predict performance, while giving us actionable insights.
For many organizations, the biggest challenge with traditional AV has been its lack of scalability. As we head into this new paradigm, we see enterprises looking to deploy collaboration or huddle rooms at scale. In the old paradigm, organizations would have to program equipment specifically for each room; in this new paradigm, room configurations can simply be copied and deployed within minutes. Not only can you deploy at scale, but you also can support at scale. Imagine a scenario where you can support hundreds of rooms remotely. Eliminating a truck roll reduces costs, and it allows staff to focus on initiatives that are more strategic.
Transforming The Workplace
One of the biggest challenges that enterprises face today is attracting the best and brightest talent. IT departments have to evolve their role to bridge the gap between business and technology, without eroding agility and while enhancing innovation. This means modern collaborative workplaces with rich and engaging employee experiences. But all this has to be delivered with unprecedented efficiencies, and that just isn’t possible with traditional, black-box AV.
In a connected but open environment, productivity rises. In such environments, employees are empowered to work in the way that they want to work, so they’re more engaged and, as a result, they get more done. Human ingenuity is a company’s most important asset.
Proactively Approaching Security
Enterprise security continues to be at the top of the list of challenges for every organization. Enterprise installations should flow from an outlined architectural vision that includes security, IT-grade transport mechanisms, manageability and monitorability, price/performance and features—in that order.
To enhance security and create a better end-user experience, today’s enterprises should incorporate the role of Chief Solutions Architect. The role of that individual is to create a reference architecture. Each organization will then have a reference architecture that includes vision, a roadmap, ample designs, products, configuration documentation and practical guidelines. This approach can integrate people, processes and security technology across all organizational functions, so as to mitigate risk.
Embracing Cloud Technology
Organizations are using cloud technology as a way to combat complexity and reduce some of the burden on IT resources, and this holds true for AV, as well. As users, data and applications move across devices, clouds and geographic locations, you have to be able to provide a collaborative working environment for all users. This kind of digital-ready infrastructure foundation will scale capacity and simplify network management, and it’ll allow you to provision services as needs evolve. It’s important to understand how to leverage that technology to provide the most effective and efficient AV solutions.
Focusing On Results
Innovation is challenging, and it can be costly, too. This next generation of AV technology is looking to the IT model of managed services. Enterprises want the same kind of strategic relationships for their AV needs as they’re currently experiencing with their IT networks. They’re looking for data centered on how the services are being used, and more efficient ways of managing the solutions.
When you’re clearly able to demonstrate a reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment (ROI) over the life of a specific initiative, such as the next iteration of AV, then CIOs and leadership teams are willing to consider those options because they’re delivering better value for the investment. These kinds of solutions accelerate the adoption of newer technology, and they help to make better use of talent and resources.
AV providers who are ready to add more value, including advisory services and implementation of managed services, are making it easier for enterprises to buy, maintain and upgrade their infrastructure, focus on their core functions and remain competitive.
This next generation of AV technology must have the capacity to accelerate business for the enterprise. It has to be capable of integrating and scaling new initiatives. It has to leverage analytics for smarter and faster decision-making. And it has to improve the overall user experience.
If AV is to maintain its rightful place as the crown jewel of IT, we need to embrace this transformation…or we risk becoming irrelevant.