A natural evolution or a predictable development?
Those who have worked within AV for any length of time will testify that the industry has grown and changed beyond recognition in the last few years. What are the reasons for this surge in AV interest? We have identified some key reasons and the new considerations that AV professionals have to address.
Is AV fundamental when changing and enhancing working cultures, styles and environments?
Where previously AV was added to a meeting room after the room was designed and created, AV is now ingrained within working practices and strategies.
The workplace culture has changed to one of open communication, internally but also externally and, in many cases, globally. This is made possible with advances in display, data streaming, video conferencing and live interactive technologies.
Hot desking and remote working
With 50% of workstations empty for long periods, the trend of hot desking and remote working in corporate environments is on the increase. This is not a new phenomenon to universities where remote working and learning is entrenched in their culture. Technologies such as data streaming, AV integrated configurable workstations, cloud based conferencing and the integration of AV and IT has made hot desking and remote working possible.
Work smarter not harder
The old adage of ‘work smarter not harder’ holds very true as the user demands technology that is multi-functional. Today the average mobile worker carries 3.5 mobile devices and expects them to connect together.
Technology has developed to support new environments such as collaborative spaces, lounges and coffee shops. With acoustic treatments, wireless connectivity and mobile or modular solutions that work in open environments, AV makes mobile working easier and more efficient.
As for the future, expect to see technology designed, created and programmed specifically for smaller groups or even for the individual – the ultimate in personalisation.
The rapid decrease in cost of hardware
With mass production and competition between manufacturers bringing down the cost of hardware including components, AV hardware is now a more accessible option to many organisations. A good example of this is in large format displays. Relatively recently they were cost prohibitive for many installations. However, the reduction in price along with improvements in software has driven the market for video walls. When huge images are needed, video walls are now a viable alternative to projection with lightweight units displaying crisp images and innovative content, dependent on the application of course.
Integration into home and working life
The ability to access documents from almost anywhere in the world means we are no longer restricted to sitting in front of a screen in an office or learning environment. 60% of workers say they don’t need to be in an office to be productive. Initially technology was a driver in the changes we have seen in working practices, but this situation has now changed – as flexible working in the business environment has caught up with the flexible learning of the education market. As flexible working is now considered the norm there is a pressure to find even more intuitive and efficient ways to support the trend. The moves in video conferencing from complex, technician reliant systems to desktop, user friendly packages is a typical example of how technology has evolved to meet the need.
The blurring lines between office and home as a workplace is a trend set to continue and one that employers must address in the same way universities have supported their lecturers and students. A recent survey of over 3200 Generation Y finance professionals across the world found that lifestyle factors outweighed contractual ones in their choice of job. In this case the growth and importance of AV seems to be a predictable development following the trend of flexible working.
The marriage of AV/IT
Having been talked about for several years, the integration of the two functions is becoming a reality.
The upsides of AV/IT integration include:-
- A lesser level of resource with a greater level of knowledge.
- The breaking down of barriers between AV and IT, leading to faster decisions on solutions.
- The creation of a seamless operation incorporating everything from design and infrastructure to fault finding.
- One point of contact, making it easier for external integrators and contractors to engage and communicate – again easing the decision making process.
However there are also some disadvantages:-
- A potential loss of specialism.
- Potentially less budget, as spend for the two areas is merged.
- A move towards standardisation rather than bespoke solutions. At the moment, internal AV teams, external integrators and manufacturers have the expert knowledge to match a solution to an organisation’s long-term needs and strategy.
What changes have you seen in the industry in recent times? How do you keep updated on the AV technology that matches your organisations working practices? Where do you see AV working for you in the future? Let us know what you think by tweeting using #flexibleworking