Truly Sustainable Solutions

Whether you’re working on a managed digital signage network or planning to offer AV-as-a-Service, it’s necessary to look to the future. If we’re going to deploy truly sustainable solutions, we must broaden our criteria for success. By “sustainable,” I don’t simply mean green—energy efficient, free of contaminants and recyclable—but also durable, serviceable and adaptable to future needs.

Sometimes, designers and integrators simply make sure that they’ve checked the requirement boxes on a request for proposal (RFP), and therefore miss the opportunity to add value to a project through dialogue and consultation with the client. I guess that’s OK if the proposal satisfies the immediate needs identified by decision-makers, but we might be short-changing both the client and ourselves if we don’t at least try to address some of the following questions: Is the solution scalable and adaptable to meet future needs? Is it durable and economically supportable? Will it work well with other current and planned solutions? Will it support new technologies in use across the user’s organization, and beyond? Will it fit the changing demographics and evolving culture of the organization?

Scalability can be a serious issue for many systems. It’s a good idea to ask for a forecast of expected growth over the next three to five years, and make sure that key sub-systems can handle the anticipated increase. Cost-of-ownership calculations should include not only factors such as the cost of projector bulbs and repairs, but also factors such as the staying power of key hardware and software vendors. In addition, AV/IT solutions rarely function in a vacuum, and the ability to interoperate smoothly with other technologies should figure in any needs analysis. This should go beyond connectivity with current systems, to include interoperability with technologies trending within the user’s industry.

Rapid adoption of smart devices and voice recognition in consumer markets has fed expectations for similar ease of use for technologies in the workplace. Younger management assumes that business tools will evolve to take advantage of social media, artificial intelligence (AI) and even augmented reality (AR). To be truly sustainable, current solutions must address the increasing demand for smart technologies in systems used for presentations, collaboration, remote meetings and digital signage.

Not all of these issues apply to every new system, but thinking about them in the context of each new challenge is important, and it might reveal opportunities to innovate, add value and build more durable business relationships.

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