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Today's IT Department Is Also The AV Department

You can add to the IT department’s list of responsibilities the task of managing and leveraging audio visual tools. They’re an important part of improving collaboration and decision-making in companies of all sizes, all around the world.

The reason the AV responsibility is falling to the IT department is that AV has all but converged with the unified communications (UC) arena. UC encompasses voice, video, and data, delivered in real time via technological components that fall into the IT sphere, including networking, software, and apps. As we know, if it is connected to the network, IT is going to need to manage it. 

Conventional AV tools have long been used in corporate boardrooms and conference rooms -- I’m thinking of early AV, such as the vintage speaker phones you see on episodes of Mad Men. Well, Don Draper would probably lose his indefatigable cool if he were to step into a modern conference room equipped to handle VoIP, softphone calls and web applications. We’ve come a long way, baby! Today, the integration of modern AV devices and technology into UC IP networks is changing the landscape of corporate and institutional communications.

In the past few years, both video and audio conferencing have shifted from hardware-based platforms to more of a software model. Organizations are increasingly using software-based videoconferencing solutions such as Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Vidyo, and Zoom because the cost savings, scalability, and user experience far exceed what you can achieve with a hardware conferencing platform.

However, delivering a high-quality audio and visual experience still depends on devices from the AV world:  cameras, microphones, and speakers. That’s why AV is so critical to UC solutions.

When selecting AV-based collaboration systems, there are some important factors to consider:

  • Interoperability -- Do the AV devices, software, and UC platforms work together based on industry standards? Systems integrators and IT resellers tie everything together on site, but that job is much easier to do if manufacturers have already made sure all of the components are compatible. Interoperability is key to the next factor.
  • Reduced complexity -- The system should be simple to install, deploy, and use. If it is, then integrators can spend less time setting up the system and more time tending to an organization’s specific requirements.
  • Price/performance.
  • Quality of sound and video.

In an industry where remote knowledge workers can work on any device, anywhere, we’re no longer dealing with an office environment; we’re dealing with a virtual environment. These new spaces are setup for “teaming” not just “meeting.” As such, customers are looking for the ability to deliver a quality experience with improved efficiency and productivity for less cost. When you implement AV and UC technologies together, you typically see those benefits in the form of reduced IT costs and travel expenses.

In a CIO survey released early this year, 44% of respondents rated “optimizing the organization’s business process” as among the most frequently cited business initiatives CIOs expect will be most significant in driving IT investments. Certainly, improving communications (i.e., through virtual meetings), which improves productivity, is an important part of optimizing daily business processes. With integration into the IT department, AV and UC can work together to greatly improve the quality of communication worldwide.