Strategic Reinvention

Strategic Reinvention

Wow, it’s already the December issue of Systems Contractor News. It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the threshold of departing 2011 and about to step into 2012. This is always a great time of year—a few extra days off, time with friends and family, holiday parties, and a time to review this year’s accomplishments while preparing for next year’s challenges.

One of the exciting things about our industry is the ever-changing landscape of products, applications, and technology trends. In preparing for the upcoming year, I have always found it helpful to review predictions of leading research and advisory companies in other verticals. One that I often follow is the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends as identified by research and advisory firm Gartner, typically released at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo event.

As I read through the Top 10 for 2012, it struck me how many of the projected IT trends will have a direct impact on the AV business (and by the way, the AV/IT convergence has come and gone). As you are building your strategic plan for 2012, you may want to consider some of these forecasted trends and their impact on your business.

Media Tablets and Beyond

In the 2011 forecast, mobile applications and media tablets were listed at #2 on Gartner Top 10. The 2011 predicted trend was the proliferation of devices that brought about the convergence of mobility and the web, including mobile commerce. Obviously they nailed that one, and are focused on the “beyond” in 2012. In this case, the “beyond” includes security and management challenges faced by IT as more and more employees are bringing their own various technologies to the workplace.

What it means to the AV industry: Learn and embrace the various platforms, form factors, and various mobile computing technologies. They will become the user interface (UI) for media management, electronic systems, and environment control, as well as a few other things that we haven’t thought about yet

Mobile-Centric Applications and Interfaces

Changes in UI interface capabilities such as touch, gesture, search, voice, and video will change how mobile apps work in the future. With these changes, they predict that half of the apps downloaded today will cease to exist or will have been acquired by other companies.

What it means to the AV industry: More opportunities! As the UI capabilities expand and the new applications evolve, there will be more opportunities for system updates and changes. Can you say “service agreements”? Or better yet, what if it happens in the cloud? You then say “managed services.”

Contextual and Social User Experience

Context-aware technology is all about improving the quality of interaction with the end-user by anticipating the end-user’s needs and proactively serving up the most appropriate content, product, or service.

What it means to the AV Industry: A total change in how we think about the design and utilization of collaborative spaces and associated systems.

The Internet of Things

The concept of “IoT” is about the expansion of the internet as more and more devices add sensors and intelligence. Cameras, microphones, image recognition, occupancy sensors, etc.—they all become part of the internet. Obviously not a new vision, but the quantity and types of things being connected are accelerating rapidly (thank you IPv6).

What it means to the AV Industry: Sorry, if you can’t figure out the opportunities here you may want to consider a career change.

It looks like 2012 will be another year of technology advancements occurring at a rate faster than ever before. Becoming knowledgeable about forecasted trends on a variety of technology verticals will provide you with a wealth of ideas and opportunities.

Happy New Year!

R. Randal Riebe ( is the director of AV integrator business development at Polycom.

The Other Six

The other six 2012 strategic technologies identified in Gartner’s Top 10 included Application Stores and Marketplaces, Next-Generation Analytics, Big Data, In-Memory Computing, Extremely Low-Energy Servers, and Cloud Computing. Although each will have some level of impact on the AV industry, a few stand out.

Application Stores and Marketplaces are all about the rise in applications for mobile users. The current majority of mobile applications are focused on the consumer, but the forecast is that we will see extreme growth in business-focused applications. This will also create a change in the function of IT, which will become the gatekeepers of apps. I can envision enterprise app stores operated by IT that will be on a continual search for customized applications that provide specialty business value. So what does that mean to you? Your company needs to be developing customized apps.

Big Data is all about the use of new technologies to manage and store the sheer volume of information being generated on a daily, hourly, and per-minute basis. As the storage requirements continue to grow, business will realize that they can’t store it all. Of course, a new problem will create a new solution, so be aware of new techniques and technologies developed to handle extreme amounts of data. The opportunity for the AV industry is to explore services/offerings around data storage and access that will be required for that next generation collaborative space.

In-Memory Computing is another forecasted trend that will require close attention. Flash memory is everywhere, from consumer devices to IT systems. Unlike RAM, flash memory is there even when the power isn’t. As the costs of flash memory continue to drop, you will see the development of software that will use this memory. It is predicted that this could become a very disruptive technology. Stay close to this one—it will mean a complete rethinking about the design of systems.

Technology trends will redefine and reinvent our industry, your company, and your career. Never be satisfied with the way things are.

—R. Randal Riebe