In case you haven’t noticed, the internet is eating all the things. Audio and video components in both home and commercial environments are no longer standalone devices. Instead, they are often networked to one another and to the internet.
The pro audiovisual industry refers to this as the AV/IT convergence, and it offers many advantages for businesses. Building technology systems can now send and receive data, stream media and store information, and employ remote support.
AV/IT convergence also presents business challenges, as IT departments become responsible for maintaining a shared infrastructure.
But what does it mean for AV design, and for the path of an AV design or integration professional?
The AV/IT Design Paradigm
Lloyd Ranola, audiovisual designer at TEECOM, identifies three design practice trends created by the AV/IT convergence. These trends are rapidly transforming the audiovisual profession in ways that threaten to leave the traditional practice model behind. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Systems design now requires cross-disciplinary collaboration.
The interweaving of AV and IT means that the telecommunications backbone of a built space affects the quality of the audiovisual system performance, and vice versa. Clients benefit from the savings and ease of maintenance offered by convergence on a single network, but that network must have enough bandwidth and must be configured correctly to handle both AV and IT traffic securely and efficiently. The same goes for Wi-Fi systems. A holistic design that truly integrates AV and the network brings scalability, flexibility, and beauty to a space. A piecemeal design results in patches, visible cords, and poor performance.
One of the reasons Lloyd came to work at TEECOM is that he recognized that an interdisciplinary approach was the future of the industry, and TEECOM has the team structure. “I’ve actually heard some industry peers complain that no one sees the value in designing data infrastructure. Here it’s the opposite,” he says. “All the disciplines at TEECOM are constantly gleaning from each others’ information.”
2. Product-agnostic design matters more than ever.
Many product manufacturers and contractors offer design consulting as part of their product package, so much so that the term “AV consultant” has become watered down, says Lloyd. Product manufacturers, however, are out to sell the next box, and their reluctance to explore alternatives doesn’t always result in the best design. A product-agnostic design provides flexibility and longevity. A true design consultant should be able to:
- Research your organization’s AV and IT needs and develop a long-range strategy to meet them;
- Create a Scope of Work and develop an Opinion of Probable Cost to inform your budget;
- Conduct independent research on products and trends;
- Perform peer reviews;
- Produce construction documents stamped by an in-house licensed engineer;
- Develop an RFP and qualify contractors;
- Oversee the build-out of the design and perform a punchlist;
- Train users on operation and maintenance of the systems.
These services result in high-quality finished systems that survive product obsolescence.
3. Keeping up with the technology options requires ongoing education.
To keep up with the ever-changing product market, AV/IT designers need the capacity to engage in continuous learning about the marketplace, design requirements, and emerging technologies. Creating this capacity requires an enterprise-wide commitment to and framework for education and research. TEECOM has a structured program of ongoing education incorporating weekly open knowledge shares, industry organization membership, conference attendance, and mentorship. We cover all exam expenses for industry certifications, and reward recipients with substantial cash bonuses to acknowledge their dedication to bettering themselves and the industry.