With an extensive history in the AV business, I’ve seen the evolution the industry has experienced as it relates to implementation. The way we work has changed. Modern organizations collaborate to accelerate new ideas, fast track the development of new products, and expand the power of remotely connected teams. What were once sophisticated AV solutions are now available in just about every enterprise conference room.
The Evolution of Collaboration
Historically, audio/video systems were custom solutions, and frequently only deployed in executive boardrooms. Today, organizations are looking to blend technology, physical space, and their people to optimize productivity. They want employees to be able to engage across any device, regardless of where they are working, so they can leverage video, voice, and content, simultaneously.
While the technology itself has seen some significant evolution, the way these rooms are deployed has, unfortunately, not seen the same kind of progression. Due to the often-global nature of enterprises, the customer typically has to rely on the services of various integrators around the globe. Integrators have different ways of working, prefer different brands, offer different documentation standards, etc. And then to make matters even more complex, integrators are often asked to provide consultation as well. While they are perfectly capable of this at a local room or building level, when they are forced to consider the intricacies and nuances of the enterprise, they simply are not equipped with the information to make this a success.
AV integrators frequently struggle to connect with enterprise IT departments, with enterprise security teams, Windows teams, and the list could go on. For an enterprise that strives to deliver a unique but global corporate standard, this is undesirable, and in many cases, unacceptable.
Having struggled with this on multiple occasions, I’ve taken the time to explore the challenges here and worked with some of our partners to identify ways to resolve this. As older systems are being replaced, and new buildings require new AV solutions, more and more of our deployments resemble one another, and designs, configurations, and installations are becoming more standardized, which means the boxes matter less.
Architectural Vision for the Enterprise
The solution—enterprise installations—should be the result of an outlined architectural vision that includes security, IT-grade transport mechanisms, manageability, monitorability, price-performance, and features, in that order.
To enhance the process and create a better end-user experience, today’s enterprise should include the role of chief solutions architect. That individual will create a reference architecture. Each organization will then have its reference architecture that includes a vision,, a roadmap, ample designs, products, configuration documentation, and practical guidelines.
According to Micha van der Stoop, of IDM Solutions, “When this kind of documentation is available, and customers can understand the impact of their choices and can really predict the service-level agreement requirements, the role of the integrator transforms. It shouldn’t be necessary to reinvent the wheel at every deployment. It shouldn’t be necessary to pay different companies for the same work in different geographical regions.”
“Instead, the key functions and logic of any system should be predefined, and in some cases, available in the enterprise ‘cloud’ as a service. Integrators can then do what they do best—they can focus on the local quality, knowing that the security, enterprise connectivity, control logic, etc. is all addressed,” added van der Stoop.
Unfortunately, most enterprises lack this vision and decisions are then made locally, and that results in incompatibility with other sites. Organizations end up with isolated information, fragmented support, escalating and unpredictable costs, and a less-than-optimal user experience for those who travel between locations.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to find the CTOs of the enterprises you work with, but when you can deliver that enterprise-wide message, you will be better equipped to become part of something bigger—a pervasive AV experience—and you’ll become an integral part of that enterprise strategy, creating your own opportunity for the future.
For integrators, uniformity in deployments represent the opportunity for long-term relationships. The best way to solve these issues is with a strategic solution where you can deliver new value. Integrators that can provide solutions that allow them to remotely monitor and manage AV deployments with analytics will have the data to have important and strategic conversations with their customers, including what equipment is being used, and when and how it’s being used. With IoT insights, this enables analyses around hundreds of data points that could shape the way an enterprise uses its AV technologies to drive business results. Providing this kind of data opens the door for more important conversations with the enterprise.
For the enterprise, this is also the path to cost savings, faster implementations, more secure designs, and a consistent user experience. The technology will affect customers, employees, partners, and providers. The opportunity is to look at how the technology can alter the core business and allow it to pivot in a new direction for faster growth or new possibilities.