The confluence of a new mobile workforce and higher real estate costs have pushed facilities managers to create more efficient use of their existing space. This trend also has forced the creation of smaller meeting spaces. The U.S. Workplace Survey conducted by Gensler Research in 2016 stated, “Innovators spend less time at their desks, instead collaborating and socializing from conference rooms, open meeting areas, and café spaces.”
As the networked AV universe continues to expand, the rush to put all digital AV equipment and devices on the network may overshoot what is practical or fiscally responsible for every application. Cost-effective, point-to-point, all-in-one, and standalone solutions are filling the need for small collaboration spaces and huddle rooms.
Traditionally, the AV industry has been focused on high-end conference and meeting rooms with multiple laptop connections at the table, a control panel, a video conferencing codec, a matrix switcher, table microphones, and a speaker. “In the most basic rooms, you might just have a laptop and want to plug it in and get an image on-screen,” says Daniel Jackson, director of Enterprise Technology at Crestron. “There's a lot of growth with these low-cost, simple systems that provide a needed solution.”
Crestron and other control companies are seizing an opportunity once only filled by traditional conferencing manufacturers, by offering stand-alone products that don’t require proprietary AV control systems. This tactic might appear risky when most companies want to ensure ownership of the whole AV ecosystem. It took Porsche almost two decades of watching its customer-base purchase SUVs from Land Rover before offering the Cayenne.
Jackson says that most people tend to think of Crestron as big, complex, and costly. “People don't realize that we have these cost-effective, easy to install, just plug it in, and away you go solutions.”
Flexible and Scalable
For an organization that chooses to install standalone solutions—whether for presentations, digital media switchers, or signal routers—it is essential that the products are “hybrid,” with the capability of connecting to a network when you’re ready.
Although huddle and small collaboration spaces don’t intrinsically need to be connected to a network to make them easy to use, these spaces can benefit from integration with room scheduling software to maximize room usage and employee time. Depending on the vendor, room scheduling can be added as a standalone system.
As you move further into an AV ecosystem, there is greater flexibility and scalability with the ability to deploy hundreds of rooms at a time.
Single Source Benefit
Although always challenging, three years ago, managing multiple vendors with multiple products didn’t have as much of an impact as it does today. The alphabet soup of vendors with networked AV products is of paramount concern for internal information security groups that demand any product be tested before going on the network.
“We’ve seen a ton of demand for consolidation of vendors because when you scale up, people aren't looking to be a product manager or project manager,” says Alex Peras, Product Manager of DigitalMedia at Crestron. “They just want to put something in and have it work, and if it doesn't work, they can go back to one person. What we are trying to do is give people the ability to stick with one vendor to solve all of their digital media needs.”
Exhibitors at InfoComm 2018 will likely position their AV product to be the ideal single platform solution. The question is, will the manufacturer make deployment, management, security and reporting easier?
Be on the lookout for the third of six installments of the InfoComm18 Networked AV Series where Jackson and Peras discuss, “4K Networked Video Image Quality and the Latency Discussion.” There’s more to the story than the spec sheet shows.
InfoComm18 Networked AV Series
One of Six: Networked AV — More Than a Disrupter