Every integrator wants to know how they can do their job better, how they can ensure 100 percent of clients are happy at the end of every project, and how they can overall become a trusted expert in their field.
But, as with all professions, there a few challenges that stand in the way of integration perfection, especially in AV integration.
CI had the chance to speak with a few AV integration professionals at Almo‘s E4 AV tour in Boston regarding what they think are the biggest challenges integrators are facing right now.
At the end of the day, three major themes emerged from the discussions:
The Convergence of IT and AV
We all know the convergence of IT and AV is inevitable, but IT and AV professionals are still trying to figure out a way to make it all work together, and that includes both the technology and the people.
“I think the major challenge continues to be the combination of IT and AV. No matter what, you’re being dragged, kicking and screaming, into that world. Getting the IT people on board, allowing us to have a portion of their world, is still an ongoing battle,” says Jeff Gerow, an independent consultant.
Joe Williams, an AV systems designer at RDK Engineers, agrees:
“A lot of the technology in AV is being converged with IT, so another challenge is working together with IT groups and creating a bond between AV and IT. If we’re pushing 4K through a network, there are a lot of bandwidth restrictions that occur and it doesn’t leave IT groups very happy when the AV group comes in and has all of these demands. The challenge will be seamlessly blending AV with IT.”
James Berlo, senior engineer at Shanahan Sound & Video, adds:
“The biggest concern is bandwidth—bandwidth for high definition video, everyone wants to stuff it onto the network and the IT people hate us. There has to be some sort of delicate compression scheme that’s going to allow high definition material to be compressed and sent over the network.”
Overcoming the IT/AV challenge will mean facing the reality that IT and AV professionals are going to have to work together to understand each other’s goals, limits and capabilities.
While bringing two tech worlds together will certainly be difficult, it seems that there is an even bigger challenge keeping AV integrators up at night.
Everyone Wants 4K
“One of the biggest challenges integrators are facing is mitigating customer expectations,” says Michael Libby, a design engineer for Advance Technology.
“There’s a lot of terminology with 4K. There are great difficulties in interacting with customers that sort of have preconceived notions regarding 4K and what it’s capable of and what’s out there on the market. There is straight up false advertisement behind some of that 4K mentioning that [customers] are coming into. So it’s difficult to start a job with a customer where right off the bat you’re sort of saying, ‘No, you’re wrong, that’s not how it goes.’ That makes things extremely difficult.”
Sarah Hearn, an installation project manager for AVFX faces the same challenge.
“Managing the customers’ expectations especially when it comes to 4K is a huge challenge because it’s a huge buzzword. Helping people understand what they’re actually going to get out of that and the limitations that come along with it [is a challenge].”
Beyond managing customers’ expectations, some integrators are still wrapping their heads around all of 4K’s capabilities.
“It looks like  is going to be the start of the implementation of 4K systems. It does seem like this is going to be a challenge until we all have our feet wet and are able to fully comprehend and articulate [4K] to our customers. I would say that once we become better informed and have more experience with the 4K systems, everything should be easy from there on out,” says Eric Walker, a system integrator for Norseman Audio Video Systems.