As technology advances and media integrates into all devices, the line between AV and IT is beginning to blur. But content remains king, so be prepared for the upcoming convergence of AV and IT into a single media-delivery team. Times of change are coming for professionals in all industries, but there are ways to stay ahead of the curve.
Here’s how to future-proof your team against the coming AV/IT convergence.
We’ve come a long way from bespoke cables, single-user systems, and centralized decision making. It’s now a world that requires an intrinsic commitment to communication, collaboration, and productivity using any device from anywhere. This new landscape is propelling an inevitable increase in AV/IT convergence as the boundaries between these functions continue to blur.
Content Remains King
One of the major drivers of this trend is flux in content service technologies for the workspace. We are in a period of transition and potential confusion exemplified by the gamut of overlapping concepts including content services platforms, content collaboration platforms, digital experience platforms, web content management, and customer communications management.
It’s all happening fast and requires the integration of AV and IT resources in order to develop the most appropriate solutions that address evolving business and user needs – now and in the future.
Gartner also mentioned several pieces of this puzzle including document management, content security, records management, integration, storage infrastructure, virtual data rooms, cloud-based applications, and file syncing and sharing. “Application leaders crafting a digital workplace will need to address use cases for both content-related key business process, and content developed collaboratively by teams.”
From Silos to Digital Transformation
There was a time when AV and IT departments were siloed and sometimes even hesitant to get pulled into each other’s projects. Not anymore. AV/IT convergence is now a fact of life driven by a focus on the drivers of organizational strategy and the needs of end-users.
In the past, AV equipment functioned primarily on an independent architecture, with specialized software, purpose-built hardware, and unique control systems. This space was also serviced by a group of resellers/installers who specialized in commercial AV, residential AV, or both. On the other hand, corporate IT departments were focused on servers, network infrastructure, and endpoints.
There is now a digital transformation taking place everywhere, with devices that are more connected and allow for greater employee and customer interaction. This transformation is forcing IT departments to become much more involved with provisioning and managing a wider variety of AV equipment.
The result is a mandate for integration and teamwork between these two groups that hold the keys to successful project implementations. That means developing a proactive approach to understanding the respective needs and pain points as the lines blur between the two sides of what is now the same coin.
And, just as the IT side will need to get more versed with AV technology, the AV side will need to do the same with “commoditized IT equipment” if they want to stay competitive.
Who Is Affected by Convergence?
Everyone from customers and employees who use technology to resellers and distributors is affected in some way by the convergence of AV and IT. It’s impacting virtually all market segments as well. Of course, each has its own unique needs and objectives, but they can all benefit from interconnected technologies if they are properly designed and implemented.
In the corporate office, the objective may be to increase productivity and collaboration between headquarters staff and those at divisions around the world. In healthcare, it could be to expedite consultation between clinicians to improve care or facilitate workflow with faster access to medical records. For schools, it might be to quickly broadcast emergency notifications. And in fast food, it may be to boost sales by enhancing efficiency in the drive-through service.
This trend is a positive one for the IT side. It offers an opportunity to branch out with new technologies and expand the department’s reach. At the same time, they must fully understand the use cases and user experience aspects of the technologies they are deploying. The first step is understanding the goals a team is trying to accomplish and what the people employing the technology need to be most effective.
Managing Digital Overload
Effective partnerships between AV and IT can help deal with a sense of digital overload stemming from the use of multiple devices, screens, sensors, and sources with pipelines carrying significant amounts and varieties of data in real-time.
The move to IP-based systems is just one example where IT and AV overlap and must share information to successfully consider their respective resources when designing or retrofitting a network that will incorporate AV.
The result will be a sharing of experiences, expertise and best practices that deliver the expected performance in a cost-effective manner.
Buzzwords heard in these scenarios include webscale IT, mesh networks, distributed intelligence, and single pane of glass for managing resources. Moreover, as these demands continue to increase, artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play. In addition, intelligent devices and sensors are transforming aspects like facility usage analysis and automated energy management.
Other considerations include 4K resolution, wireless tablet controllers and virtual reality – all requiring the right software, hardware, and communications interfaces.
It’s now a completely interconnected ecosystem that demands:
• Cross-disciplinary collaboration and holistic design between AV and IT teams
• Product-agnostic approach for maximum flexibility and future-proofing
• Continuous training and education on user needs as well as technology options
Ongoing Change in the Workspace
A key change in today’s work environment is that more and more employees work from home or in different corporate locations. The need for collaboration has prompted AV and IT departments to seek new solutions. It also presents challenges to office managers in upgrading conference rooms as well as creating increasingly popular huddle spaces.
In the past, for example, a typical meeting space would have a Polycom phone and a projector for local attendees to share their screen. Modern-day conference rooms now require much greater connectivity. There are often one or more large-format, interactive, flat-panel displays that serve as content collaboration platforms for local participants connected wirelessly as well as for remote participants anywhere.
Interactive collaboration displays with advanced whiteboarding software, built-in screen mirroring and connected Unified Communication (UC) systems are becoming common in the workplace of leading companies.
Through advances in IoT, it will soon be common for displays, cameras, mics, and other AV equipment running over IP-based networks to automatically turn themselves on/off and adjust their performance according to the attendees in the room.
Digital signage solutions are also a type of “content services” or “content management” platform that crosses over both the traditional IT and the AV spaces. One example is a lobby video wall using distributed AV over IP technology.
Others include check-in kiosks, posters, or non-interactive displays enabled with screen mirroring from phones or mobile devices. These require special AV technology that runs off IP-based infrastructure, whether using traditional AV control systems, MDM (mobile device management), or content management systems (cloud-based or on-premises).
Ongoing digital transformation is happening in organizations from Fortune 500 businesses to elementary schools and healthcare facilities. It requires heretofore siloed AV and IT teams to work closely together to deliver systems that support organizational strategies and deliver the resources end-users need to optimize communication, collaboration and productivity.
Advanced interactive touchscreen displays and associated systems are a prime example of this intersection of AV and IT with their ability to deliver natural onscreen writing and drawing, seamlessly connect multiple users and locations, provide built-in processing for annotation and multimedia, accommodate multiple ports as well as wireless interconnectivity, access cloud-based storage and apps, and provide the flexibility of a platform-agnostic approach.
Download your copy of the AV IT Convergence Whitepaper here. For more information, contact ViewSonic sales at firstname.lastname@example.org