Technology is becoming more porous, seeping into every aspect of our waking lives. Even our sleep (or lack thereof) can be tracked and logged into a FitBit IoT dashboard. It’s Moore’s Law in the machine learning era.
Open-source, stackable technologies are democratizing innovation, though the big tech brands are still standards bearers. More devices are coming pre-baked with AI, networks are getting faster, and just about everything comes in an as-a-service model—but how will these broader IT trends shape the professional AV industry? To unpack this question, scan the CompTIA 2019 Industry Outlook, which contextualizes the dynamics shaping the $5 trillion global technology industry. While the CompTIA report does not address audiovisual systems specifically, it is clear how developments like ambient computing will influence AV and UCC designs and implementations.
2019 COMPTIA INDUSTRY OUTLOOK STUDY
CompTIA, the world’s largest trade association for the technology industry, conducts an annual state of the industry research study to provide insight and direction for those working in the business of technology. The 2019 findings suggest a marketplace on the threshold of profound change, while simultaneously searching for new business approaches. Here are 12 key trends explored in the study:
COMPTIA’S KEY TRENDS FOR 2019
1. Cloud, Edge Computing, and 5G Form the Modern Economic Infrastructure
2. IoT and AI Open New Possibilities in Ambient Computing
3. Distributed Technology Models Challenge Existing Structures
4. Stackable Technologies Supercharge Digitization Efforts
5. Business of Emerging Technology Prompts Sales Channels Reinvention
6. Hyper-personalization Takes Customer Experience to Next Level
7. Partnerships Bridge Gaps in New Tech Ecosystem
8. Persistent Tech-Worker Shortages Fuel New, Creative Solutions
9. Digital-Human Models Begin to Shape the Workplace of Tomorrow
10. Technology Professionals Take the Lead in Anticipating Unintended Consequences
11. High Tech Increasingly Transforms Low Tech
12. Global Tech Hubs Put Spotlight on the Ingredients for Innovation
(Courtesy of CompTIA—www.comptia.org/resources/it-industry-trends-analysis)
Jim Hamilton, CompTIA’s vice president of member communities, is excited what the 2019 Industry Outlook suggests for business growth. “Think about the development of the steam engine or the combustion engine, and how electricity and water contributed to the industrial revolution. Now we have the cloud, edge, and 5G—ingredients that will contribute to the next industrial revolution,” he said. “It makes for a fertile environment for innovation and for businesses to thrive.”
While “the next big thing” usually makes headlines, Hamilton said the current technological landscape is more about the adjacent possibilities that “come from the maturity of tech, the various advances in different sectors, and how you can tie it all together. It’s about the ability to build strategic solutions and leveraging different pieces.”
One of the key trends featured in the CompTIA report is how IoT and AI are opening new possibilities in ambient computing. With smart lights, for example, users can access and control lighting via apps. Automation took smart lighting to the next level. Add to that AI and IoT, and smart lights will soon automate themselves. This is the promise of ambient computing.
Similarly, rooms will start to “learn” and respond to user behaviors and patterns. With ambient computing, the whole room will become an immersive, intuitive technology experience that extends far beyond the need for touchpanels.
“Ambient computing will use AI and algorithms to learn your age, your occupation, when you’re in and out of the house, and all of the things that are pertinent to the experience at home and work,” Hamilton said. To that end, systems integrators, tech managers, and room designers will need to think more critically about people’s behavior, consider new interfaces, and safeguard against negative side effects.
What’s more, as rooms become smarter and technology becomes less intrusive, users are demanding the flexibility to collaborate everywhere, via any interface. To specify solutions that can complement the “always on,” increasingly ambient culture, explore how soft codecs, remote participant support, and integrated audio can help organizations stay nimble and grow.
MONITORING AV LIKE IT
IoT, AI, and other emerging technologies permeated Integrated Systems Europe 2019 in Amsterdam. But no trend was as popular as AV over IP and the integration of “IT-friendly” features. Phil Marechal, VP business development and product management, Yamaha Unified Communications, sees the benefit of the AV industry embracing both IT-related concepts and IT-based technologies.
“There are a number of IT-based technologies that are starting to become popular, and AV is working toward understanding and building best practices around them,” he said. One example is the proliferation of networked AV, including IPTV and real-time AV over IP. While there are many approaches, including AVB/TSN, Dante AV, and AES67, more time-sensitive networking technologies are increasingly specified for AV deployments where scalability is required.
He added that, at Yamaha, the team considered various IT-based technologies for some of its new products. The CS-700, for example, features a networking technology called SNMP, a network management protocol that is common in switches and large deployments. SNMP lets users create different thresholds for alarms, and it will automatically notify a network center that a condition is occurring in a piece of equipment that may need to be addressed. In other words, it is a type of proactive monitoring. “Ours is the only audio/video soundbar technology designed for huddle rooms that has SNMP nibs built right into it,” Marechal said. “You can have 10,000 of these all over the world and constantly monitor them in the background like you might monitor a router, switch, or another critical piece of IT infrastructure.” With more IT-centric deployments, Marechal believes AV stakeholders will be better positioned to ensure reliable performance quality of service.
But to unlock the potential of IT-friendly AV, organizations large and small must diversify their talent pools. “AV is certainly understanding the impact of IT,” Marechal said. “Some integrators are starting to build practices right inside their organizations, hiring networking professionals to provide additional value-added services for configuring networks and understanding how networks need to be designed to support video protocols and audio protocols.” Myriad manufacturers offer IT-related training modules. AVIXA, ZeeVee, Matrox, Kramer, and others provide AV-over-IP certification courses.
PROACTIVE SECURITY TO SUPPORT AV
As more AV content and feeds become digitized, ultimately moving onto the enterprise or campus network, technology managers must be just as proactive about security as their IT counterparts. The new era of cybersecurity will benefit from needs assessment, enhanced firewalls, robust software to detect security threats, strategic vulnerability audits, and security analytics.
In his role as enterprise strategic business consultant, Midco, Andrew Simmons is strategic about security. Midco (Midcontinent Communications) works with large organizations, partnering with their IT leadership on delivering IT products and services to meet their ever-growing bandwidth and technology needs. Midco is one of the leading network and technology services providers in the Midwest, with an expansive, independently owned fiber network throughout the region. The firm delivers internet, network services, and data center services to communities large and small, both inside and outside of its footprint.
From his day-to-day work in the field, Simmons observes that “in virtually every industry, IT professionals are fighting to stay ahead amid the rapidly evolving data security threat landscape. Network and security departments are making continuous improvements to their network design and data centers to help combat this constant threat.” He added that when tech managers need to protect data with enhanced firewalls and anti-virus software, “it’s even more critical that you have fast, reliable, and diverse network connectivity to support your AV and IT initiatives.”
One method of staying proactive, according to Simmons, is to move away from a single, centrally located data center to a multiple-location approach. This allows organizations to be better prepared to respond to and recover from security threats, natural disasters, and equipment failure.
FACING THE FUTURE
What is clear from the CompTIA report is that IT trends encompass more than the technical infrastructure. The interplay of technology and the evolving economic climate is contributing to what many consider the “fourth industrial revolution.” The cloud, edge computing, the ability to process data quickly from any source, boosted by lightning-fast 5G, and security threats all present challenges and opportunities as we march into the brave new world. UX will become more important as IoT and AI help design powerful experiences at work and home. While traditional integrators and managers may specify less hardware, they will need to be more creative about the models and methods of delivering exceptional outcomes.
Margot Douaihy is a writer, storyteller, and frequent contributor to Systems Contractor News and AV Technology.
AVIXA NETWORKED TECHNOLOGY TRAINING
COMPTIA INDUSTRY OUTLOOK 2019
KRAMER AV OVER IP CERTIFICATION
MIDCO: NEED FOR DATA SECURITY GROWS
ZEEVEE AV OVER IP WHITEPAPER