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Pro AV Watch List pick Emma Bigg on embracing new tech

Octavius RE owner on Covid's impact on AV and the rise of immersive technology

How did you get into our industry?
I started working in pro audio rental and then moved in event production. I was then invited back by my previous employer to come and establish their first satellite office in London and create a dedicated AV installation department, covering audio, video and lighting. The rest as they say, is history

How would you say things have changed in the last few years (pre Covid)?
The biggest change is how AV has been used to facilitate a new attitude/approach to working.Fluid, flexible spaces; companies and individuals sharing workspace; the rise of co-working to support the gig economy has transformed some areas of AV. Especially with traditionally consumer brands moving into the pro Av world using their experience of designing and manufacturing PC peripherals.

There has also been an ever increasing demand for high quality VC solutions, people no longer accept the poor quality systems of the past and need these call to be productive and effective and that of course benefits all of us in AV and finally we were getting to deliver the right kind of system and improving remote communications which has positive implications for global companies, social mobility, reduction in carbon front print and the effective exploitation of the workforce globally rather than regionally.

How is Covid set to change the landscape?
It has been very interesting to see how adversity has encouraged people to embrace and implement new technology to sustain their businesses. We have seen a very rapid deployment of technology and AV systems as well as a willingness to try a new approach or modify the culture of the work force to implement these changes. So far AV it’s been very exciting and we’ve overall been very lucky that people have been reaching for advice and equipment during these very uncertain times.  It has also highlighted and bought to the fore, the importance of this type of technology in companies and a new appreciation for the pro AV solution rather than cutting corners and dabbling with prosumer and consumer products to save on cost.

Also, the appetite for virtual and hybrid event solutions has been very encouraging and people have developed a while new skill set to sustain this growing area of work.

Where do you see AV technology going in the next few years?
Virtual/Mixed/Hybrid/Immersive experiences all seems pretty well-established and the Covid-19 years means there are a range of solutions and facilities to make this technology available to a wide range of companies not just those with the mega budgets.

I think we will see a permanent shift in working culture that will affect people’s technology requirements both personal and corporate which I’m sure will bring with it a lot of exciting new challenges as we start to push the envelope.

Any thoughts on ISE this year: how things were handled; how the two shows went (assuming you attended/exhibited); thoughts on ISE Digital?
I was disappointed that ISE held out for so long to make the decision to go Digtial and have supporting local events. Given the varying experience of the pandemic between countries it seemed pretty clear to me trying to produce a face to face event and persuade manufacturers to commit to exhibiting was always going to struggle but I can also sympathise that we did not get to celebrate the major move to Barcelona which must have been very disappointing.

I did not attend ISE events this year but I think they were welcomed by those that did, we are by nature a sociable industry and the personal connections we have make it all the more fun, so they did well in the end.

What are your plans (personal and business) for 2022 and beyond?
Octavius RE has had its best trading years 2019 to 2021 so I am hoping to consolidate on that and expand the range of solutions and projects and continue to work hard on supporting our now much bigger client base.