How Do We Choose Technology?

Published: October 19, 2023
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Editor’s note: Commercial Integrator has teamed up with the IMCCA, the New York-based non-profit industry association for unified communication and workplace collaboration, to produce a quarterly supplement, titled Collaboration Today and Tomorrow, that focuses on all things collaboration from multiple perspectives.

As the collaboration industry continues to evolve at what feels like a record pace, one question remains constant: How do we make technology choices that best align with our needs and goals? With options ranging from BYOD solutions, to fully integrated rooms, to drop-in systems — even peripheral choices, such as table versus ceiling microphones — it can be overwhelming to determine the best fit for an organization. To shed light on this topic, we reached out to industry experts and asked them about their criteria for making technology choices, whether for themselves or for their customers. What follows are their insights and perspectives on how to navigate the decision-making process when it comes to AV systems and collaboration technology. 

This is the question prompt that we presented: What criteria do you see your customers using to make technology decisions? Are they the criteria you’d recommend customers use and, if not, what would be? 

Jason Moss, Vice President, Corporate Development and Alliances, Q-SYS 

Before we can start talking about technology, we encourage customers to really understand how each space is intended to be used. As hybrid work is now the reality, collaboration spaces are taking a new form and typically serve more than one purpose or function. Although companies are still identifying exactly how these spaces will be utilized, they do see the importance and value of investing in people-centric spaces that deliver elevated experiences for both in-room and remote participants. These rooms will require users to utilize AV and control-platform technologies that are widely certified by UC vendors and that offer a compelling ecosystem, which can grow and change as needs shift. Frost & Sullivan refers to these as high-impact spaces and foresees that the market will rise to 11.3 million spaces by 2025, with the potential for nearly $140 billion in revenue. 

Related: Office Spaces: The Next Generation

Jeff Giampa, Head of Systems Engineering HP Poly Hybrid Work Solutions 

 As we all emerge from the heavily home-office-based time of the pandemic, the primary criteria for most of our clients has been to transition their more traditional videoconferencing spaces to the same native experiences that everyone used at home, with the primary focus on Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. From there, the types of systems they choose tend to depend heavily on the size of the organization and the capability of the technical staff. 

In many cases, they are looking to deploy these rooms in a more simplified manner, and they opt, where possible, for a dedicated appliance that can be more easily installed. But the larger and more complex spaces require the guidance and expertise of the AV integration community to blend the native application experience with the integration of better audio and video coverage, room control, etc. Also, the choice of a Windows-based system versus the more traditional appliance (typically running Android) seems to be more of a matter of the client’s preference, and both are quite commonly deployed today. 

We also see BYOD systems being more prevalent in certain markets. Although larger organizations with full-staffed IT tend to prefer dedicated systems, certain markets (such as education) like the cost and simplicity of USB-connected bars, which require less management and are the most likely to be self-installed. There also tends to be some geographic preference, as we see certain areas in Europe and Latin America preferring USB versus dedicated at a higher rate than the U.S., for example. 

From a vendor perspective, we try to offer as many choices (e.g., USB, Windows, appliance) as possible, and we work with the client and their integration partner to select the best fit based on the number and type of rooms. Often, we build a template for various room types to deliver consistency across rooms in different locations. We also look at the personas of the typical users at an organization to ensure that the technology chosen will meet their unique requirements. For the most part, our clients are very attuned to the counsel of their integrator, and, ultimately, make choices based on that advice, aligned with considerations around cost, scale and manageability. 

Related: Futureproofing technology investments 

Kevin Kieller, Co-Founder and Lead Analyst, EnableUC Inc. 

I love technology — especially all the new, sleek and shiny products. However, what I really get excited about is technology that measurably improves business outcomes. 

My process to help organizations make this happen is straightforward and consists of two key steps: 1) develop consensus around meaningful, measurable objectives; 2) use behavioral and sentiment analytics to refine your path forward. 

Measurable objectives are key to evaluating the multiple viable solution options that exist for each business problem. Are you trying to save money? If so, how much and over what period? Are you trying to improve the employee experience? If so, how will you measure, do you have a baseline and how much improvement is required? Without clear project objectives, organizations must instead rely on opinion and anecdotal evidence to select a solution. 

Analytics can both validate your selected solution and help refine configurations, communications, training and change-management efforts. I’m a huge fan of conducting pilot deployments in order to validate not only the technology but also the deployment process. Tracking adoption and user satisfaction allows you to understand what is working and where further efforts might be required. Driving adoption is critical, as it is virtually impossible to achieve the planned return on investment (ROI) from a new technology without broad-based adoption. 

Phil Langley, Global SVP, UCC and Pro A/V, Wesco 

When choosing the right AV technology to meet your goals, here are the criteria to consider: 

  • functionality 
  • reliability 
  • ease of use 
  • compatibility 
  • scalability 
  • cost 
  • support and training 

Among the key considerations to help to make the final choice are these: 

  • user preferences 
  • cost 
  • security 
  • collaboration 
  • customization 

To determine which solution best suits your organization and you, it might be helpful to conduct a needs assessment, comparing the available options. 

When choosing pro AV technology, I don’t have any personal preferences for particular systems or vendors. Nonetheless, here are a few important steps I take when making decisions: 

  • determine user needs 
  • evaluate technical capabilities 
  • evaluate user-friendliness 
  • assess installation requirements 
  • consider scalability 
  • determine budget 
  • evaluate quality 
  • consider compatibility 
  • be mindful of futureproofing 

By taking these factors into account, I am able to make the best technical pro AV solution choices that meet the needs of users, while remaining reliable, simple to use and cost effective.

For more Collaboration Today and Tomorrow content, check out our website archives.

Compiled by Mark Okern, sales engineer, enterprise, with Splunk.

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