Walking in someone else’s shoes is often the key to learning the most in life. At InfoComm, while we all do much more walking than we’d like, this metaphysical means of pedestrian activity comes from talking to our friends, colleagues, and mentors. In preparation for the annual AV geekery unification, we’ve been surveying leading integrators and consultants about what they have their eyes on for technology, business trends, markets, training, and overall goals they’re looking to achieve while racking up record Fitbit stats.
Ed Cook, CEO, AVMI There was a healthy range of responses, with some expectedly common themes. More than 60 percent of respondents cited networking, IP, IT, and security focuses in the training opportunities prioritized. “With AV projects increasingly being ‘owned’ by IT departments, we are investing heavily in training our technical engineers and service personnel to speak the language of our colleagues in IT, including adopting the appropriate processes and service frameworks, such as ITIL,” said Ed Cook, CEO of AVMI, a global integrator based in the U.K.
Networking along with project management are the training topics most of interest for Travis Deatherage, president, Linx Multimedia, based in Denver, CO. “I believe these are the areas where our industry continues to be the weakest at the integrator level, and these disciplines are critical to our long term success,” he said.
Paul Mueller, enterprise sales engineer, AVI Systems Training in other more business-related capacities was cited across the board. “My top area for training is to develop my management skills for the AV technician,” said Paul Mueller, enterprise sales engineer at AVI Systems’ Iowa office. “It seems the current workforce needs leadership in both technical and customer relations, so they can support the project cycle.”
Michael Umile, consultant, Akustiks Training and other technical sessions are top priorities for Michael Umile, consultant at Akustiks, in Norwalk, CT, who has found the innovation a bit lacking the past few years at InfoComm. Umile is eager to take advantage of InfoComm’s new Seminar and Workshop Package, allowing attendees to participate in up to four hour-long workshops or one-to two-hour seminars from Wednesday to Friday.
Travis Deatherage, president, Linx Multimedia Beyond what integrators and consultants are looking to learn, there was a bevy of different technologies they listed on their watch lists. LED video walls and 4K, along with some reference to huddle spaces and the cloud appeared in 40 percent of survey responses. Simpler huddle rooms strikes a chord for Deatherage as the workplace continues to evolve toward fewer fixed work spaces and more mobile employees. “The simpler we can make these solutions to install and operate, the more we will sell of them,” he said. “Then it becomes important to understand how we will support, maintain, and manage these systems.”
Ben Bausher, senior consultant, Audio and Video Systems Group, Jaffe Holden Laser projectors was another top category, particularly with mainstream options now coming to market. A broader range of price points was commonly of interest concerning all types of solutions. Ben Bausher, senior consultant in the Audio and Video Systems Group at Jaffe Holden, will be hunting for the install-type sound reinforcement loudspeakers in the low to mid-cost level. “The good stuff is always good, but not everyone has the budget for it. I will be spending time in the demo rooms doing as much critical listening as I can,” he said. “I’m also going to be looking at lowcost video streaming appliances.”
Dave Hatz, design engineer, AVI Systems Streaming and recording were both recurrent product trends. As noted by Dave Hatz, designer engineer at AVI Systems’ Chicago-area office, many companies will no doubt be debuting streaming products at the show. “I’m interested to see which manufacturers are presenting streaming ‘solutions,’ where they have found ways to bring streaming into the ecosystem of their existing products without being separate ‘boxes.’”
In the ever-increasing shift away from hardware, references to simple, intuitive user interfaces and the influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) held top mentions. The latter was cited by AVMI’s Cook particularly in the retail sector with sensor and motion technology.
Standardization in those user interfaces, as well as with a global delivery platform, had a few nods. Kelly Bousman, SVP of marketing at AVI-SPL also referenced collaboration ubiquitously, from these open spaces, to applications that promote collaboration without in-room bias, video-based between remote teams to large-scale data visualization for project teams. She is most interested in hearing about collaboration solutions that boost workplace culture and performance.
Some of the other product technologies integrators and consultants mentioned in the survey included video over IP, HDBaseT, BYOD, Dante, and USB 3.0. A few of the other more conceptual trends worth mention were digital signage services with content development and platform management in the cloud, and a new catch-all, XaaS, “any tech as a service.” Talent recruitment and participation in InfoComm’s Career Fair popped up a few times.
Overall, Linx’s Deatherage approaches InfoComm from the stance of solving client problems. “Sometimes that can be about a better widget, but most of the time, I find myself needing to look through the shiny rocks to find the foundational elements that make us a better partner to our clients.”
Lindsey Adler is editor of SCN. Follow her on Twitter @lindseymadler.