David Labuskes: Creating exceptional AV experiences29 December 2014
More than a year ago, InfoComm International’s Board of Directors decided to include an element of the organisation’s strategic plan to define, deliver and share exceptional experiences.
Why was this decision made? Consider the people who manage facilities and events that use AV equipment. The solutions that the industry provides to these customers need to be delivered collaboratively through a consultative process that not only focuses on technological solutions, but also on the role of enhanced communications in formulating and executing organisational strategies.
InfoComm decided to hire Gravity Tank, an innovation consultancy, to research what comprises an exceptional AV experience, and how we can help industry players achieve a higher level of satisfaction with its customers and end users.
The proliferation of prosumer solutions, along with the growing ease of consumer solutions, is influencing our customers. They are looking for easy, seamless experiences. In addition, the commoditisation of AV products means that the industry needs to deliver more than technology to survive. We need to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and help create experiences that will accomplish their goals.
Because, in the end, AV is all about creating experiences.
For the purposes of our research we chose to focus on six common use cases. These included schools, meeting places, museums, performing arts, houses of worship and live events. What we found was that exceptional experiences achieve the goal of the activity, exceed expectations and engage participants from beginning to end. We found that it takes a lot more than functioning equipment to create an exceptional AV experience.
We determined that there is a spectrum of end goals of AV experiences. On one end, the goal of the event is to inform, or transfer information, in a cut-and-dried way. Think of a flight delay announcement. On the other end is the goal of entertaining, which is to delight, amaze or amuse. A rock concert or theatrical event could represent this goal.
We looked at the type of participation. Is the experience highly interactive – with participants engaging in or shaping content in real time?
By identifying these goals InfoComm’s members will be able to clarify the client’s end goal. This will enable AV firms to deliver an exceptional experience to end users. With help from Gravity Tank, InfoComm was able to identify three components to every AV experience – content, space and technology.
Content is the material that is being shaped or conveyed. Examples include presentations, art exhibits and live music. In many instances, the audiovisual professional has no control over the content, but could offer advice.
Space is the place where experiences happen. It could be a boardroom – or even a digital device. In most cases the audiovisual professional will have little control over the architecture of the space, but may have input towards the interior design.
Technology is the method by which content is delivered. Projectors, speakers, microphones, control systems and displays are a few examples.
Together, content, space and tech are greater than the sum of their parts. If we are to move ahead as an industry, we need to create immersive, total experiences that communicate something rich in meaning. The components of an exceptional experience are fluid, based on the goal of the experience.
In 2015 you should expect to see more from InfoComm on exceptional experiences. We will be launching a new Exceptional Experience microsite, featuring case studies and information. We will be discussing exceptional experiences at roundtables around the world. And we will be offering webinars and seminars at our shows exploring this topic. Plus, InfoComm will be taking a hard look at some of the experiences we offer at our shows and conferences, and striving to improve them.