The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago—so goes the Chinese proverb.

It was a fitting metaphor employed in response to a query about gathering data from audiovisual systems for the noble purpose of tracking outcomes. My question was rooted in a rustle I’ve been hearing about the need to deliver hard, factual evidence that investing in workplace technology carries a host of benefits. We know it’s true, and those trendsetting end users leading the workplace of the future migration do too.

Credit for delivering that proverbial tidbit goes to Rob Badenoch, associate principal at TAD Associates, during a Workplace of the Future panel discussion hosted recently by Sennheiser. German office furniture company Wilkhahn participated in the event, during which CEO Simone Vingerhoets-Ziesmann presented some of the different workplace modes that have come to exist by modern (read: Millennial) demands. These include collaboration, focus, learning, socialize, and rejuvenate—all of which correspond to the varying spaces that offices are being designed with now. This differs from past standards, of course, in that they represent a breakdown in traditional silo approaches. Sounds a bit familiar to the way AV systems are changing now too, eh?

Faced with new paradigms in AV workplace designs, Badenoch aptly outlined some of the key sources of transformation: the migration from hardware to software, the intrusion of consumer electronics into the enterprise, excessive complexity, and the outdated dominance of the “ecosystem,” along with the lack of interoperability it presents. He also shared some internal stats: just one out of five TAD customers holds on to the hardware-based paradigm, while 80 percent directly asks for soft-conferencing.

And apparently, consultants find themselves informing capital planning decisions today. Could this trend be branching out? Surely it’s been on everyone’s wishlist—if only AV had a seat at the table in the earliest stages of building design to impact decision-making. Bring real metrics to that table, and you’re holding a golden ticket.

Now isn’t it convenient how converged AV systems deliver a plethora of data? End users get a window into how rooms are being used (and aren’t), and they’re emboldened with information to guide future investments. There’s a dual opportunity within this dynamic that integrators and consultants could be letting flutter by: capturing some of this data to quantify outcomes for prospective clients.

Big data can be intimidating, and there’s a ton of it being logged in the enterprise today. Your CIO and CTO clients, though, they live for this data. Don’t get left out in the shade and let the chance to track the outcomes of your enterprise systems get carted off to the lumberyard.

While the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, as the second half of the proverb imparts: the second best time is now.