For many, there has been an evolution from working exclusively in a traditional office environment to a hybrid model, where employees can work from practically anywhere. In turn, this trend has precipitated a shift in many organizations’ audiovisual needs. In the past, integrators were often tasked with outfitting a behemoth boardroom to serve as a corporate showpiece. Now, businesses are asking for potentially hundreds — even thousands — of small meeting environments, each of them requiring scalable and easy-to-install AV solutions to meet the explosion of demand for unified communication tools.
Against that backdrop, integrators have a growing need for streamlined, yet dependable, AV solutions that are standardized to create a seamless experience for users in the office, at home or on the road. In short, the best AV solutions are ones installed quickly and easily, with intuitive functionality for non-technical users. Standardization, familiarity and dependable functionality are paramount.
From the AV manufacturing perspective, if standardization is the benchmark, then it’s imperative to make it simple for integrators to earn their profit. They need vendors that can supply products that cover the entirety of the solution and that intuitively integrate. In meeting rooms, the conferencing system should be engineered with the integration experience in mind, delivering simplicity, speed and incredible reliability.
Creating Uniform, High-Value Experiences with Intelligent Features
AV professionals must now look at the conference room from a new perspective. There will still be microphones, loudspeakers and video cameras — the principal players in every installation — but the new challenge will be to create a uniform, high-quality experience for all. That experience must be hybrid, yes, but also equal.
This can be achieved by deploying discrete and all-in-one integrated AV solutions that boast intelligent features, including artificial intelligence (AI), that bring forward individuals both in the conference room and located elsewhere forward, both auditorily and visually. These clients need microphone systems that actively track and mix conversations from around the room. That way, no matter where someone sits in the conference room, they’ll sound as clear as if the microphone were right in front of them.
This will also require videoconferencing cameras that automatically identify, focus on and zoom in on participants when they speak, similar to how remote participants are presented onscreen. In addition, high-quality audio- and videoconferencing bars that incorporate these same features will provide IT departments with complete meeting-room solutions without any changes in the quality of the experience, offering enhanced ease of setup and use.
Improve Efficiency, Facilitate Standardization
For the integrator, AI and other intelligent solutions can be leveraged by the installation team to improve efficiency and facilitate standardization. By combining AI optimization and predictive analysis with existing signal-processing algorithms, audio solutions can now assist in the installation process, helping to configure rooms to satisfy end users’ needs. AI can also aid the integrator by speeding up installation tasks; making room deployments more consistent and predictable in duration; and smoothing out variances in room tuning so that integrators can consistently deliver superior-sounding rooms in less time. This translates to more profit.
AI is specifically adept at managing repetitive or time-consuming tuning tasks for simpler rooms, which can help free up programmers and tuners to focus on rooms that are more complex. A system that uses an automatic room-setup feature may detect all the connected AV components, including microphones, speakers and other peripherals, and then measure that room’s current performance to intelligently configure and tune each component. This is accomplished without reliance on custom programming, which can cut into integrator profits. This technology can also generate a report to validate the final room performance for the IT team, while also serving as a performance benchmark for troubleshooting.
Automation Eliminates Complexity for All
Complex AV gear can be its own impediment for the integrator, the IT team and end users alike. When a room doesn’t work as it’s expected to, or if it’s too complicated to manage correctly, it can be overwhelming and distracting to end users. Using system-optimization features, such as automation, natural language processing and predictive analysis, can vastly improve the relationship that users have with AV assets, as well as room utilization. Smart commercial AV systems become more accessible to everyone, even without training. As a result, they naturally facilitate innovation and productivity for employees. When rooms work and sound as expected, it also reflects well on the integrator and the IT team that contracted the integrator, which can lead to repeat business.
With all signs pointing to customized AV setups deployed as a mass commodity, those who fail to adapt will be left behind. Equipment that is easy to install, configure and use, as well as customize via automation, will continue to gain share at the expense of complex, hard-to-use solutions. In other words, mass customization is the new commodity, in that users can enjoy customized experiences at the touch of a button, fueled by AI and other automated tools. Mass customization equates to happier clients, more business opportunities and better margins.