In the not too distant past, AV demands in a corporate environment were much more limited. Looking back, it seems like it was a matter of setting up projection and sound in a few meeting rooms, and boom, you’re done. But the workplace has changed as technology has changed— and AV is playing an outsized role in that process.
Now in 2020, companies sprawl over vast campuses, AV pros are becoming UX designers, managing the experience of guests and employees alike through digital signage and other wayfinding, huddle spaces and other meeting rooms, not to mention all the behind-the-curtain networking and controls needed to make all these new functionalities happen and come off without a hitch. Managing the flow of sound and image data is a fundamental component in getting work done.
And what about the dramatic shift in the logistics of how people work? People do their work all over the place. AV is helping to usher in the era of hot-desking, flex-time, and all manner of remote work. But employees still need access to clear communication. They need access to the sound and image data they would be working with just as they would if they were tethered to their cubicle.
AV is aiding collaboration like never before. One measure of this is the space companies devote to meeting rooms. It used to be that a few large conference rooms were sufficient to meet the need for gathering staff together. On a modern office campus, there will be conference rooms along with open collaboration spaces, and smaller huddle rooms dotted around the facilities. The purchase of flat-panel displays used to be a huge outlay, but with the reduction in pricing for these critical collaboration tools, there are more opportunities for employees to work together on shared projects.
All the new technology means new opportunities to make employees feel intimidated by all these tech interactions, but that just won’t cut it in today’s workplace. Integrators have stepped up, understanding the need for intuitive design and the input of the end-user in developing and implementing these tech-intensive AV projects.
Nobody wants to call IT to help set up their presentation. So a complicated and esoteric piece of equipment that technically “works” is no longer going to be the acceptable standard. More and more, our expectation is that the equipment we use at work be easy to install, easy to work with, and actually fun to interact with.
Big strides in technology and high expectations from end-users have brought us to this point, so where do we go from here?
Managed AV services will be one trend to keep tabs on. In a new trends report, AVIXA notes that “managed AV services have been offered traditionally through the lens of monitoring and maintenance contracts. However, managed services have expanded to include storage and video processing functions, which tie into SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings. This expanded functionality is a key value-add for pro AV integrators and solution providers, as the channel moves beyond just hardware sales.”
From the tech standpoint, it’s the usual suspects. AI is helping us understand how users are interacting with AV-enhanced environments, so we can tailor those experiences to meet user needs. VR/AR gains more traction with every passing day.
AV technology has played a pivotal role in how the workplace has changed over the past decade. How will you be helping clients adapt to what’s coming in the next?