As the New Year approaches, we tend to take the time to reflect on the past 12 months—what we accomplished, what we hope to accomplish in the future. In the AV world, we’ve seen some technologies and applications flourish, with big buzzwords like collaboration, 4K, AV over IP, huddle room, the Cloud, etc. popping up left and right.
Over at Tekvox, CEO Jim Reinhardt had some observations about what worked in 2015, and where the industry is headed.
SCN: What technologies and/or verticals were most successful this year? Which do you see declining?
JR: Education continues to grow at a strong pace as first-generation adopters look to replace their basic analog signal paths with scalable digital paths using HDBaseT. New adopters, particularly in K-12, are finding ever-more cost-effective technology to outfit even budget-conscious facilities.
In education, the collaborative learning/flip classroom stands out and the category with the most potential to change education but curriculum must be tuned to the new capabilities. Collaboration is also the sweet-spot for deploying 4K technology as 4K display makers race for the bottom in pricing. We see collaboration technology effecting every level of education with the potential for exponential growth in education, healthcare, and corporate campuses.
The biggest decline we see is in desire for custom programming. Customers are rapidly learning that custom programming means years of ongoing support and maintenance burdens. Factory-programmed, standardized solutions are catching on.
SCN: What technologies emerged this year that you were most surprised by? Were they effective?
JR: 4K displays are not new by any means but the price points achieved in 2015 certainly are. Except in the most cost-squeeze application, 4K displays are becoming the norm and, yes, it’s not only effective but exciting since 4K opens the door to new application including ‘multi-view’ where multiple HD inputs are simultaneously displayed - this is a game changer for interactive collaboration and learning.
SCN: What technologies/ verticals should we keep our eye on for 2016?
JR: Managed solutions for large A/V installations will start to take hold more broadly in 2016. By this, we mean A/V systems that are managed by enterprise-grade automation. Most small to medium installations will be perfectly happy with systems managed by their A/V technology providers or integrators. Local customer support will continue unchanged but support staff will spend less time on managing the A/V plant as automation takes over.
SCN: What customer/ end user demand surprised you the most this year and why? What kind of customer requests are becoming more common?
JR: VGA still isn’t dead yet and continues to be a drag-factor in maximizing cost-effectiveness of entry-level systems. Ironically, it is the most cost-sensitive customers who demand the added cost of VGA-capable A/V systems. We hope to see these decline as legacy PCs are retired over time. On the ‘increase’ side, more customers are coming to understand the cost and quality benefits of standardized, factory configured, and programmed A/V systems. ProAV customers see a much more consumer-like engagement and enjoy the cost benefits of mass-produced, standardized systems.