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How AV Integrators Can Maintain Relevance at the IT Table

on August 02, 2016

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The AV world needs IT as part of the design and installation process. Not too long ago, the AV industry could afford to think of IT as an afterthought. But in recent years, the two have become inextricably connected as control systems, Smart TVs, projectors, processors, and more live on the network and depend on IT infrastructure. The Internet of Everything is here, and AV components are a part of it.  

In the past, AV professionals could perform an installation. The IT department’s role in an organization was to provide service and support, if needed, after the fact.  But technology is not that straightforward anymore, and issues that extend past individual hardware components need experts in IT and AV working together on a project to ensure a smooth installation. As a result, sophisticated IT support needs to be integrated into the early stages. The AV team, in essence, needs to anticipate the IT issues of a project before implementation. How can AV firms best accomplish this objective?

The answer sounds simple: Hire IT professionals with an AV background who are capable of understanding both sides of the technology fence.  The most successful AV companies will hire IT experts with a solid understanding of AV and how the trades rely on each other to work with the AV integrators to create a rock-solid project. But what’s expected of each team starts to blur as IT and AV converge. Let’s explore how AV consulting firms can thrive by embracing IT in today’s technologically complex environment.

ITAV Convergence: Not Just a Catchphrase 

More complex technology requires more robust back-end support and a more competent IT department to provide that support. Consulting firms must retain professionals who clearly understand both AV and IT and how they intertwine. AV and IT will largely remain separate entities, managed as distinct departments. But the departments will continue to grow closer together and work more cohesively as technology advances. Most industries will see the merging of these two as a natural transition – especially if their departments are prepared for it. 

Does this mean your AV professionals must be IT experts and vice versa? Not at all. In fact, as IT and AV grow closer together and the demand for professionals with experience in both fields grows, consultancies mustn’t fall into the trap of spreading their resources and professionals’ time too thin. Specialization remains essential—it’s better to do one thing well and rely on other experts to manage the other aspects of an installation. Just as you wouldn’t expect members of your sales team to manage projects, it’s not realistic to expect your service professionals to manage every IT and AV issue that arises. Instead, every member of your team should have a firm grasp of how the two departments interact.

Incorporate Better Efficiency with Cohesion

When departments work together—especially those as dependent upon one another as IT and AV—their organizational efficiency rises. As IT and AV professionals maintain working knowledge and a firm understanding of how their departments work together, the improved communication leads to a more thorough approach to any issue or project from both an AV and an IT standpoint.

Hardware isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but today’s hardware relies on software components or cloud-based processing. Although cloud and software issues are typically delegated to IT departments, when AV professionals start taking these platforms into account, their projects will be more successful. AV professionals must make their skillsets scalable with evolving technology and make IT considerations part of their standard processes.

Education Is Key

The major trade organizations—CEDIA on the residential side and InfoComm for commercial AV integrators—provide numerous training opportunities for AV integrators to understand the role IT plays in their projects.

AV integration firms should also work to create internal creating networking standards that aren’t solely specific to AV, weaving IT into their decision-making processes. By expanding their core skillsets, AV professionals are going to find a more prominent place at the table when developing ITAV solutions for their organizations.

AV Integrators: Protect Yourselves and Your Clients by Understanding Network Security

Of course, with the great power of networking knowledge and cloud-based services come the responsibility of securing those networks for your customer. Integrators face great challenges keeping pace with IT security issue—but it’s not impossible and those who succeed will stand out. The demand for robust, proactive cybersecurity has grown exponentially in recent years, and as hacker attacks become more complex, IT firms must adjust their tactics and thinking surrounding cybersecurity. As technology evolved, security concerns bled into the AV field. AV professionals are now under the same pressure to incorporate cybersecurity into their projects. Those who understand how cybersecurity influences their work will build the trust of their client base and continue to grow their firms. 

Don’t Get Left Behind

In recent years, AV integrators who failed to grasp the growing relevance of the relationship between IT and AV were left in the dust as organizations shifted to accommodate this new trend.

The lack of acceptance among AV professionals may stem from feeling as though they’re being pushed aside in the growing presence of IT in the modern business world. The AV professionals who begin to view IT experts as allies, rather than competitors, and who embrace an IT-friendly mindset in their organization by hiring AV experts with IT knowledge along with IT experts with AV experience, have the opportunity to shine in the new, networked world.

 

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