The challenges of meeting room and videoconferencing technology are increasingly falling into the laps of IT departments. It can be daunting work, especially when long-term plans are on the table.
When someone makes the decision to invest in meeting room technology, the fear is as soon as it is installed it’s going to be outdated. They want to know how to invest in technology that serves them well over time.
In this transition, many clients are looking less at hardware and more at software-based platform solutions. They are leaning toward platforms that are extensible and built around concepts that are familiar. They want solutions that are easy to integrate with existing infrastructure.
Importance of Standards
Today, meeting room technologies tend to be cobbled together from discrete hardware components, each with its own requirements and each utilizing different protocols. Enterprise-wide system upgrades are tricky. Room management and monitoring is nearly impossible. Now more than ever we realize the importance of the critical counterbalance known as AV standards.
When an IT team is faced with integrating AV into their department, my best advice is to create AV standards. IT already has a set of standards. What they need is to work audio, video and control (AV&C) standards into that. It is a language they know with benefits they understand.
Early Adopters of AV Standardization
Matt Anders, manager of global media services for a multinational e-commerce corporation, says his AV team has been part of IT for nearly five years.
Pete Kolak, a former conferencing engineer at Adobe who now serves as senior manager of conferencing services for an industry leader in building high-performing networks says, “In my experience I’ve never worked for a company where AV was separate.”
As representatives of enterprises that have already embraced the AV/IT convergence, Anders and Kolak offer advice for businesses just beginning the process.
Invest in a “future-proof” infrastructure. Kolak says that as technology quickly changes, IT teams should expect to get three to five years of use from infrastructure equipment. “You should also consider solutions that are based on basic IT standards to make integration easier and seamless with your existing infrastructure,” he says.
Find the right partner. When selecting a vendor to work with, Anders says to make sure they have a strong training program. “Training is one of the biggest challenges of integrating and managing AV equipment,” he says. Finding someone whose technologies have a basic feature set that is familiar is also important. If they do not have it, find out if there is something you can work together to develop.
Develop enterprise-wide technology standards. Many end users consider standardization and total cost of ownership as key value drivers when selecting AV technologies.
Anders notes that his company realized the importance of this nearly five years ago. “Not having standards was a disaster,” he says. “We developed our standards from scratch. Now, every single one of our rooms are identical. They all have the same touch panel, same look, and same products. An engineer from here or the UK could fix any room globally because they all have the same wiring labels, numbers on the cables, etc. That has really helped support maintenance, phone support . . . everything.”
Importance of Standard, IT-Based Platforms
Our AV industry still focuses on the hardware…and you have to have it. From innovation in beam-forming microphones, touch screen control panels, to conference room cameras, and so on. However, what they should be looking for is a standard, IT-based platform that will serve them well into the future as well as be easy to upgrade.
This is an excerpt from “Building the Perfect AV Platform,” which appeared in Sync Magazine. You can read the full article here.