The New Office, Part 3: The New AV Ecosystem–Creating a Better “Room” for Each Employee

The New AV Ecosystem: Creating a Better “Room” for Each Employee
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the previous article in this series, we looked at how scheduling, training, and career enhancement options for your team members are always a great starting point for achieving flexibility. What’s the next step? Recent research[1] points out that while many workplaces are already effective in supporting collaborative activities, the biggest opportunity for impact is to focus on individual workspaces to improve the overall effectiveness and experience. The most successful companies are now trying to make the office feel like a destination rather than an obligation. To put this in simple terms, how can we create a better “room” for each of our team members, both literally in technical performance terms and also in the creation of spaces that people just want to be in, often? That’s a big question, so let’s focus back on the room.

A lot if not most of your knowledge workers—whether you’re in business, education, or government services—got used to their familiar if not perfect WFH room set-up over the past few years. Your task now is to accommodate those remote “satellite” offices into your network, recreate the safe and productive feel of those spaces as folks come back to your offices occasionally or for good, and take it to the next step: look forward, not back, and start offering your people new and better spaces that can create efficiencies, enhance productivity and foster collaboration that lets employees blossom, succeed, and contribute to your company’s success.

Following are some top best practices that are emerging among companies taking it to that next level:

1: Design AV hardware/software ecosystems for system agility

AV system success—from the “room” to the enterprise—is all about hardware/software systems that can be easily updated with minimal impact with new features and newer API architecture. Does your AV system allow for easy updates that fine-tune systems for a constantly changing mix of remote and in-person workers? Your AV system will be too locked into outdated platforms if you don’t choose nimble and software-agile products that can be updated at any time for your workers’ changing needs. For example, are they empowered with one-click full definition video sharing while in a web conference? Is your system integrated with solutions that increase efficiencies, increase compatibilities, and decrease downtime and frustrations?  Does your system allow you to “break out the video” to different screens in the room? This is about new generation API’s (Application Programming Interface) that let software platforms “talk to” other software platforms more seamlessly. We at Sony—together with our Alliance Partners—can attest to this, and today we’re helping AV system users avoid being locked into hardware or software solutions that lack flexibility. For example, BRAVIA Professional Displays—with the more network-friendly, non-proprietary Android OS—go way beyond great display technology and have paved a way for better API support, seamless integration with all videoconferencing platforms, and better enterprise management. Plus, the integration with solutions from our alliance partners delivers flexible and powerful collaboration options.

2: Fine-tune your rooms with data analytics

Don’t underestimate the importance of data analytics capabilities of your AV systems—so all stakeholders can fine tune both systems and their workflow processes going forward.

We’ve all heard AV people comment that “everything is a device on a network,” the implication being that all AV gear is now network gear. But that comment usually is referencing the push of video and other data out to all those nodes on the network and edge devices. More important is all the data that should be coming back from all of those data collectors, to store in a data lake or in the cloud, to then use to analyze how efficient your workplaces, business processes and AV systems are. You also often hear: “the cloud has changed everything.” And then you normally think of the off-premise nature of the cloud and what that means for data routing and management. In fact, the cloud is really about generating more data, more efficiently (and more securely) and then giving you that data back. The goal of all of that data should be: Data feedback and reporting from all parts of the AV ecosystem—so that analytics can then help you fine-tune the systems for better efficiency and even better flexibility going forward. For both AV integrators, and sophisticated end users, data on technology usage, collaboration results, and internal productivity trends and patterns is one of the greatest benefits of AV systems—when they’re designed right. If you’ve always thought of “data” as important but not really about AV or about empowering people, think again. This is at the heart of creating better “rooms” for each of your team members.

3: Create better audio experiences for your team

When putting together better rooms, the best AV integrators and the most demanding end users never take the “A” in AV for granted. They know that audio is a critical component for better collaboration and all display-based communication experiences. And they’re adopting new best practices to empower every participant or viewer to experience the same great sound. What’s brought audio to the forefront again for the design of better rooms? Recent advances in DSP (digital signage processing) enable new generation line array configurations. Case in point: Sony’s new SLS-1A Powered Line Array Speakers for installed AV harness recent breakthroughs in beam-steering and DSP in the best concert sound systems. Further companies such as Crestron, Kramer, and others are leveraging these breakthroughs in their new product design. The result: a better audio experience for every participant in offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, and cultural venues—all spaces that today need better audio but have presented audio configuration and installation challenges in the past.

How does your AV system adapt to your goals? To your workforce? Can it see into the rooms (with data) and know whether spaces are being optimally utilized? Is your AV ecosystem allowing all your stakeholders to make better decisions? Design for agility and flexibility, and it will do that and more.

Rich Ventura
Vice President, Sony Professional Display Solutions

Richard Ventura has spent 20+ years within sales, strategy and marketing organizations focusing on display solutions, video analytics, cloud platforms, display technologies, projectors and direct-view LED solutions. During that time he has helped numerous client and partner relationships flourish and spearheaded campaigns, which have elevated brand and products throughout the marketplace.

Richard is a long-standing member of many organizations within the industry as well as is a former Chairman on the Board of Directors for the Digital Signage Federation with experience in developing and supporting initiatives for the International Committee, Advocacy and Outreach Committee, Membership Committee as well as the Global DOOH Council. During his tenure within the industry, he has delivered many presentations at conferences as well as authored articles for key publications and industry trade periodicals.

Richard holds a BA in history from the University of MN-Morris and a MBA from Hamline University. He is also a retired member of the Minnesota National Guard after 10 years of service in the military.