IT or AV: which approach is best for meeting room technology?

IT or AV: which approach is best for meeting room technology?
Audiovisual approaches are time-consuming and manual, so IT-based systems could be the answer

Elly Yates-Roberts |

When I give presentations, there are two comparisons I make to emphasise how essential it is that audiovisual (AV) manufacturers switch from an AV-based approach to an IT-based approach to cut installation times, reduce costs and keep track of all communication devices.

My first example is of a car. Generally speaking, every car is made from the same components. It has a motor, seats, doors, wheels, a roof, battery, brakes, radiator, transmission etc. Now, if you give these components to AV people, you’ll get a completely different result than when giving them to IT people.

AV will come up with a few cars that are extraordinary. But while they might look cool, their solution isn’t scalable and very often gives a different user experience depending on which car you are in. While the user is still trying to figure out how the door opens, the car that IT came up with is already turning the corner. Sure, those cars might look less notable, but they have a few important features that every end user is looking for: they are serviceable, scalable and user friendly. And isn’t that what matters more in the end? Not only with cars, but also with meeting rooms.

My other example is with a phone. Imagine an office where 1,000 people work. They all need a phone. The AV approach would be to pick a headset and an actual phone from different brands. A technician, trained in both brands, connects both. But somehow it doesn’t work as it should. So, the technician does some research and stumbles upon newly released firmware of one of the two components. After upgrading the firmware, everything works. So, time for the next step: go onsite and connect the phone to the network. The phone boots, lights go on. The technician works his way through the menu to user preferences, manually types in the link to the location of the session initiation protocol (SIP)-server, sets up the correct colours and fonts, adds the contact list, reboots. Everything works. On to the next room.

After repeating those steps 999 times, about three months later, the technician is done. Which is probably around the time that another update to the firmware of the phone is released. And that one might even interact with the receiver’s software, meaning there’s another update coming. And again, an onsite visit is required.

The IT approach is completely different; the receiver and phone are of the same brand and therefore interact with each other. IT orders the phone and receives a list with 1,000 serial numbers. Those are imported in the software and can be configured all at the same time before the phones even arrive. When the phones arrive, all that is left is to connect them physically in the correct space. This is three days’ work, rather than three months.

I am convinced that the IT approach is the way forward. Which is why Crestron XiO Cloud, hosted on Microsoft Azure’s internet of things hub helps cut installation times, reduce costs and helps keep track of all devices. The way IT likes it.

Stijn Ooms is the director of technology at Crestron Europe

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