How to create value and open the door to new business opportunities with IT.
My kids sit rightly and unapologetically atop my priority list. Recently, I braved a return to school to study Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); this, first and foremost, was to find ways to better communicate with my son, Sameer, who has been diagnosed with autism. Through the years, I have learned how to frame my communication around his needs, while also helping him learn ways to communicate with others. He is thriving with improved communication. Oddly enough, though, a happy byproduct of this journey is a revelation that can be applied to AV’s journey with our IT brethren. Not only does AV have to speak the language of IT, but we also have to work actively together to create value for each other.
Building and managing IT networks that include AV solutions for a distributed workforce has become the new normal. Instead of focusing on the traditional ways that AV technology fits into various onsite room types, we must broaden our view to consider enterprise-wide campuses; regional offices with co-working spaces; and remote offices, including those in public places and even the home. Regardless of where people are located, IT is required to provide an equitable collaboration experience. For applications such as hospitality, live venues, themed entertainment, etc., there is an increasing need to have full transparency and accessibility with regard to AV infrastructure, regardless of application size.
Although IT’s specific needs vary across various applications, there are five core values that speak to IT professionals. Understanding these can create direct opportunities for the AV industry.
Value Driver 1: Simplicity and scalability: Simple deployment of technology is crucial to achieving desired experiences. It will become increasingly important to use an end-to-end, network-based approach that utilizes less hardware and that leverages scalable, software-based solutions. From an IT point of view, seamless integration of audio, video and control will provide greater benefits for reducing complexity and achieving lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
Value Driver 2: Remote deployment and management: With a distributed workforce, it is imperative for IT operations to be able to access, manage and troubleshoot their AV infrastructure remotely. Whether it’s having the ability to deploy features and capabilities remotely via software upgrades or being able to interact with connected AV devices to ensure an optimal user experience, remotedeployment-and management capabilities built into the AV system will become necessary.
Value Driver 3: Security: The increase in cloud-based solutions—they are here to stay—allows more gateways to an organization’s IT infrastructure. This can bring more threats to networks and data, and it heightens the need for increased security that is holistic in nature. This includes network security, data security, device and user-level authentication, and much more. It is vital for the AV industry to remain in sync with current security standards and requirements that the IT industry sets. We have to instill confidence that all network-based solutions, including cloud applications, provide the level of security that IT professionals expect.
Value Driver 4: Business-model flexibility: The traditional approach—a one-time AV-infrastructure purchase as a capital expenditure—will likely stay around due to its familiarity and because of inherent inertia. However, the IT industry has become accustomed to, and it now expects, a “pay-as-you-go” business-model option for greater financial flexibility. We will start to see more
companies demand recurring, subscription-based models. This model, which IT administrators adopted almost two decades ago for their IT infrastructure and assets, adds value for them and gives them greater flexibility and scalability of deployment.
Value Driver 5: Great user experience (UX) for both the IT administrators and the end users: For collaboration, the role of the IT end user continues to be more entrenched with AV. As such, IT administrators will play a crucial role in programming, configuring and commissioning AV systems. In collaboration, the UX is often delivered through a chosen unified-communications (UC) platform, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom. Being certified with these UC platforms has become table stakes, and it’s critical for IT administrators to be able to deliver their end users the best UX possible. In addition, manufacturers have to offer features—for example, touchless control—that can be easily upgraded with software and that IT administrators can deploy.
In the end, framing our communication around what resonates with IT will help to create value and open the door for new business opportunities.
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