In keeping with the show's theme of 'AV going forward', Mike Walsh gave a thought-provoking InfoComm 2014 opening keynote address that examined ways in which the business world is developing, and how the AV world needs to evolve to continue to serve it.
The CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow, Walsh stressed the need to consider human factors alongside technological ones."The future is often different from what we expect. I believe the future emerges from the tension between, on the one side, disruptive technologies and, just as importantly on the other side, new patterns of human behaviour."
One example of this relates to the needs of the generation that has grown up with the iPhone, which "fundamentally rewired their brains from an early age". Education should no longer be about imparting knowledge but about equipping children with "computational thinking skills" – thinking like algorithms, and breaking problems down into variables. Similarly the office of the future, in its physical design and in how work is organised and people are managed and developed, should reflect the needs of a generation that craves interactivity.
The way that companies work, Walsh continued, is evolving: technology is increasingly leading to the automation of functions within departments. One implication of this is that technology is no longer a source of competitive advantage. "If AV is converging with IT, can you also design and offer a Cloud-based version of your service and be able to offer it to CIOs? Because that's how the rest of the enterprise stack is going."
Walsh also addressed the role of Big Data ("Create a culture of data-driven experimentation") and the need to focus on customer experience ("Real innovation will come from seeing the world through your customers' eyes"). But alongside these thoughts on the future of business as a whole, he also had specific advice for the AV community: "The convergence of AV and IT is not the only headline from the future. To win the hearts and minds of tomorrow's consumers requires new ideas, new tools and a whole new communications playbook... AV technologies will need to evolve with a focus on designing amazing experiences."