The audiovisual (AV) and information technology (IT) worlds have collided, and it has been a very noisy, bumpy—and sometimes heated—introduction. As the dust clears, AV and IT professionals are seeing their new roles clearly, identifying new opportunities, and examining new technology trends.
Hybrid IT & AV Teams
IP-enabled AV has brought AV and IT staff together. When using IP-enabled technology, AV integrators have to work closely with their IT counterparts to ensure a thorough understanding of the technology that is being added to the system. Fortunately, the skills and knowledge of AV technologies by the IT workforce is growing. Their ability to use encoders, content players (decoders or PCs), network switches, network connectivity and architecture is a great asset to AV companies. Also, many of these technicians already know how to configure and maintain a network and can help adapt AV technology into the existing infrastructure.
A Shared Backbone
One of the biggest trends in AV/IT is placing all formats of audio and video on the same distribution back-bone that is currently being used by the AV client and their IT staff. Adding onto the network while using the same connectivity and hardware that IT is already familiar with allows for an easier exchange for both parties and a better result for the end-user.
IP-based streaming is also an emerging area. It allows content sharing quickly and easily with multiple users while using less data. This technology is not brand new; it has been around for about ten years but was used primarily by large enterprises with the need to publish and push content out over their own networks. It’s now become more mainstream as the technology is able to distribute high-definition content and offer more bandwidth. With these systems, delivery of content is reduced to a much smaller footprint for an organization and content can remain digital, moved around on the same back bone that it was created on.
IP-enabled AV has great benefits and is something AV integrators need to continue working with IT staff on to add to existing systems. The IT staff can also help maintain the technology as they have a great knowledge of the existing infrastructure. The expansion and contraction of an IP-enabled system is very affordable and simple using existing infrastructure.
The Biggest Challenge of IP-Enabled AV
The main challenge: you need to be working off an existing, robust backbone, or the find/approve the budget to create one. You also need knowledgeable staff to handle the IT-based equipment that is the heart of IP-based AV.
In order to take advantage of the benefits of IP-enabled AV, users need to be willing to invest in the network infrastructure and long-term support for this type of project.