Strategic Planning in the AV World

Image of AJ Sementilli
AJ Sementilli

We have all said or heard that the world continues to grow smaller all the time. Major contributors to this feeling of a smaller planet are better and more widespread communications, hastened by the growth of the Internet. The Internet is the modern highway of commerce with its principal cargo being information.  That information comes in many forms. Today corporations make use of that highway to work with clients around the globe. Face to face communications via videoconference, easy access to information, viewing live events and video on demand are in common use. Where will technology be taking us next is always a big question, but one thing seems to be consistent, after the initial introduction of a new technology it is continually improved upon until it is replaced with something new. Many companies are currently in that “improve upon” stage with many current AV technologies. Video conferencing, file sharing, streaming, and VOD are becoming more widespread, easier to use and cheaper. Today’s laptops and tablets come with videoconference and viewing applications preloaded. Although many current technologies may appear transparent to the end user, the underlying infrastructure can be complex. I believe that it is our job as AV professionals, wherever possible, to make complex AV technologies transparent to the end user, technical and non-technical alike.

User Issues

Conference Planners are the first point of contact for clients planning large events. These are the folks who need to interpret the client’s requests and communicate them to the groups who together provide the facilities, technology, food, and all the related services for a successful event. Extracting and interpreting the client’s needs are probably the most difficult part of the event planning process. Anything that we can do to make the planner’s job easier will improve the client’s experience.

As the providers of everything audio visual, AV’s part should be to make the AV component of the event equation as simple as possible. Simplicity and consistency in the facilities benefits everyone involved in the process from event planners to the technicians providing the service, and in the end, a better experience for the client. To this end we believe that when designing new facilities “simplicity and consistency” will always be the mantra. Although “simplicity and consistency” is not always the least expensive route to follow, the benefits far outweigh short-term financial goals when planning, training, compatibility and operational issues are considered.

If one were designing a facility from the ground up “simplicity and consistency” would be much easier to implement. The reality is that many facilities have aging infrastructures that have grown slowly over time and have had to evolve with an industry that is changing at a much faster pace. As with most industries, the influence of computers and the software that run them has lead to numerous issues within the audio visual world. Considering that the computer industry is always looking forward and rarely looking back, it is understandable to want to hang on to existing facilities for as long as possible. For this reason one should try to be consistent with system purchases where possible and always consider backwards compatibility with existing systems. Buying a unit that is less expensive but requires programming changes in control software may not be the bargain it appears.

Many facilities are designed to specifications for normal day-to-day business with varying degrees of consideration for expansion or compatibility. Expansion of viewing and participation within a facility is usually limited to some portable systems for interpretation, conference mics, IR receivers, and displays but not all systems are compatible with every room that may need to ramp up capabilities for a short period. Planners need to be aware of these limitations when the client’s request exceeds the facilities available within a room. Although any room’s capabilities can expand, it may not always be in a timely or economical fashion.

The Plan

Keeping in mind a general goal of enhancing operational effectiveness, a plan of “simplicity and consistency” should fit right in. To achieve that goal one should standardize the AV facility whenever possible. Planners and operations technicians both welcome this approach. Interconnectivity of all facilities with centralized control systems can provide operational efficiencies and user simplicity.

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