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Pro AV Watch List pick on diversity and the metaverse

Amelia Kallman, futurist, speaker and author discusses all things AV with Installation

How did you get into our industry?
By accident! I needed a job. I was hosting a friend’s booth at an innovation exhibition and was fascinated by the technology on a booth nearby. I started asking lots of questions, and then started demoing their tech to other people. Someone finally said, ‘Do you work for us?’ and I said, ‘No, but I should!’ A week later I started as a marketing assistant in a creative technology company [Engage Works – then called Engage Production] where I eventually worked my way up to become the Global Head of Innovation. I’ve been an independent futurist since 2017.

How would you say things have changed in the last few years (pre Covid)?
There is a lot more diversity in this industry than when I first started. It’s really encouraging to see more women and minorities, and in higher up positions too. I think there has also been a shift from a hardware focus to including software and services as key offerings as well. This industry is moving so fast and there’s so much competition. Companies who have listened to their customers and the market, and have expanded their offerings seem to be the ones thriving.

How is Covid set to change the landscape?
If anything, it has underlined how much relationships matter – both professionally and personally. It has given everyone an opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities, where and with whom we choose to spend our time, and what motivates us and makes us happy. Now we have choices where we may not have before when it comes to flexible working hours, remote working, and work/life balance. I think, ultimately, the workforce will have improved and benefitted from this period of time.

Where do you see AV technology going in the next few years?
I strongly believe enterprise is moving towards the metaverse. Within the next 5 years we are going to see a convergence of new technologies and solutions that will support a decentralised workforce, as well as improve efficiencies, costs, and value. There are so many emerging opportunities for AV to lead in this area – from networking and AI, to interoperability software, digital twin services, and interconnected hardware – it’s going to be exciting.

Any thoughts on ISE this year: how things were handled; how the two shows went (assuming you attended/exhibited); thoughts on ISE Digital?
ISE London was the first live event I attended and spoke at post-Covid, and it felt really special to connect with people face-to-face again. Personally, I can’t wait for Barcelona. I think we are all ready to get back down business.

What are your plans (personal and business) for 2022 and beyond?
I’m hoping to attend CES 2022 in Las Vegas and report on it for UK clients as I have done so in the past. Planning to have one (maybe even two) books coming out in the next year or so (watch this space), and hoping to continue to host and speak at more live events. Really can’t wait to see my family in the US this December, it’s been so hard to be apart during this time and will be such a celebration to be together again!

What would you say are the most significant changes / developments in the industry during your time?
Digital Transformation is something we’ve been talking about for ages, and some companies have been faster at adapting than others. AI entering the picture has changed so much, and will continue to moving forward.

What personal, professional achievements are you most proud of?
I’m proud to be a host ISE, as well as the XR Star podcast for AV Nation, but I’ve most enjoyed introducing new technologies and being a mentor to high school girls over the last 3 years.

Do you have a philosophy you live by professionally? And is so, how has it helped your career and those you have worked with?
Don’t work with toxic people. We’ve all had to at one point or another but it takes a real toll on mental health and performance. I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I’d rather turn down opportunities than work with a toxic person or in a toxic environment, and I only wish I came to this conclusion sooner.

What needs to change in the industry?
This industry needs diversity and diverse voices leading the way. I want board rooms that include women and minorities, and it’s also really important to embrace GenZ coming into the workforce.

In your opinion, what will be the biggest drivers of change in AV in the next 5 years?
XR (immersive technologies) and the coming metaverse. This combined with 5G/6G, cloud and edge computing, and AI, is going to change everything.

Finally, what would your message be to those starting out their AV careers?
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Find a mentor. Prioritise your work / life balance.