A mere decade ago, the AV industry was still moving from the analog to the digital world. Not satisfied with just getting to digital, five years ago the conversation moved to AV over IP. And now, for the last few years, those unsatisfied with the way things are seek to change the industry yet again to managed services and AV as a Service (AVaaS).
We can’t stop it. We can’t even hope to contain it. Being in a technology industry means the change is only going to come at us faster as the building blocks of the hardware continue to improve, shrink, and essentially become a network encoder or decoder and the software becomes more ubiquitous.
It’s not an argument. It’s not a debate. It’s just a statement that things change and they do so in many ways that we cannot always expect.
I started like so many other AV industry professionals do
My career started like so many others in the AV industry – as a musician. Music lead to studio recording and live sound. That, in turn, lead to event production, then lead tech at performance and corporate venues.
Eventually, it was manufacturer, then integrator, and, ultimately, consultant. I didn’t even know the AV industry existed as it does until I was five years in to my career. By that point, I had fallen in love with the idea of the design puzzle.
Each system was a new challenge, and I wanted to solve them all
To do that, though, I had to evolve and keep evolving. I had to find what I didn’t know and then learn it. I had to be a sponge and absorb every wrong decision and mistake (and there have been more than I can count) to ultimately be able to spend each day solving those design puzzles.
Then one day, a new puzzle appeared on my desk. This one was much more difficult than any other I had attempted previously. It was extremely ambiguous and it wasn’t going to be solved easily or quickly. It took research, time, energy, and lots of questions.
Just like the design challenges that I had been working on over the years, there were countless ways to solve this puzzle, but the difference was that even if I found the right resolution, there was likely no way my solution would be adopted.
Strangely, that only made me want to dig farther into the issue. It was at that time that my career evolution seemingly took a highly unexpected turn.
Why I’m moving from AV consultation to policy & law
This new puzzle wasn’t a project or a product design. The new puzzle was taking the hundred-thousand-foot view of what the audiovisual industry was, where it was going, and how decisions made by people that barely knew we existed were going to alter our future.
I had stumbled upon the world of public policy, advocacy, and the law.
For the next four years I wrote about, spoke about, tweeted about, and generally did everything I could to draw attention to the effects that policy decisions could have on the audiovisual industry.
It is much more likely that we will see deeper segregation between the service providers as they seek to make themselves more a part of your decision making and own more of your time, money, and attention.
Thanks for reading.
— Josh Srago, CTS (@JSrago) June 13, 2018
I found myself with a seat at tables I could only have dreamed about as I asked for associations to do something on our behalf. I sat with manufacturers asking what measures they were taking at protecting end users’ information. I found myself spending almost as much time working on this as my day job.
Several people in the AV industry asked me why I didn’t just go do that for a living, and the primary reason was that in order to be able to participate at the next level, I would have to step away from the industry that I called home to return to school. I wasn’t ready to do that.
One day last fall, I got a seat at one of those unexpected tables.
After I told the story of the audiovisual industry, the shortsightedness we sometimes exhibit, the network evolution and subsequent responsibilities that we still aren’t fully prepared to face, along with my analysis of the broader technology regulations that impact the industry, I was asked one question, “Why aren’t you in law school?”
I had no real answer beyond the cost.
3 years ago I was endlessly trying to get #avtweeps to fully understand how #NetNeutrality can alter our landscape. It’s nice to see it getting so much attention from the industry now – even if we are still on the outside of the protections.
— Josh Srago, CTS (@JSrago) December 13, 2017
With mild prompting, I saw my next evolution rapidly appear. I prepared for a month and took the LSAT. I applied to law school. And, to a certain amount of surprise, I got in to law school.
I made the decision to evolve into what’s next for my career based on the idea that this was the best thing I could do to help. My goal is to be able to take a brief hiatus from an industry that has been my home, brought me friends as close as family, and made me who I am in order to be able to serve it better.
I want to aid the industry in solving problems with contract language, intellectual property, data privacy, data security, liability, and public policy, but the only way that I can legitimately do that is to add a juris doctor to my resume.
My predictions for what will happen while I’m away
The AV industry is going to continue to evolve in new ways.
- With AVIXA’s experience agenda we’ll see increased mingling with content developers and event producers.
- We’ll see the AV over IP adoption take hold.
- We’ll see more AV as software making managed services easier for everyone.
- There will still be endless debates over “the best” everything.
- No one manufacturer will be the dominant force in the AV industry, and there will be a shift from picking a single product from a manufacturer to picking a system solution from a manufacturer.
I can’t wait to see it all become reality.
I don’t know that I can actually say goodbye to the people of AV as I make this career evolution; nor do I want to. I’d like to think that while I may not be a part of the day-to-day AV world, I will still be able to watch from afar, and pop in for a quick refresher now and then.
The AV industry seeps into its members’ blood. I’m not sure goodbye is the correct word for what comes next. All I can think to say is ta ta for now.