There has been plenty of chatter and excitement for what is now a long drawn out decade about the AV/IT convergence, as the Audio Visual industry came to terms with the idea that it is becoming part of IT, during which time the Audio Visual industry came to terms with the idea that it was becoming part of IT. Astoundingly, you can still read articles that talk about the AV/IT convergence as though it’s either new or not already well underway.
An AV/IT convergence has happened and IT managers are well aware. The transition came about largely not least due to the realisation that all this sophisticated AV technology was not well suited to be managed by Facilities, which is the logical outcome if Property funds, designs, and manages the construction of the systems. Sure, AV equipment has become increasingly network-friendly over this period, but that is a matter of record dating back to a trend which began with audio systems in the mid-nineties. Far more significant than the blue cables or the switch ports is the reality of managing another essential service.
IT is not new to managing essential services – witness telephone, email and the myriad applications accessed by the humble desktop or laptop computer. What is new is the ability for an experience of a single service to dramatically impact a group (potentially a large group) of people – and that’s without the service even failing at a technical level. The confusion and consternation that arises when people in a meeting “can’t work this thing” escalates rapidly and is comparable to multiple staff simultaneously losing email on their devices.
This means that IT is having to adapt to a new reality – that “AV” systems must be adopted, integrated, and standardised to an IT level of quality in order to deliver an IT level of performance.
This is entirely achievable, but it requires a radical shift in the thinking, briefing, design process, delivery, and operation/management of these systems. Fortunately, IT thinking already has many of the tools required for this adaptation. In fact, the principles of ITIL are almost ideally suited to the enhancements and improvements required to ensure that “AV” systems deliver an IT-grade experience.
Soon, people will be able to rely on video collaboration systems as an essential service and part of the broader intelligent building environment, but only if we embrace IT-thinking.
Graham Barrett | Product Management