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Sophisticated AV solutions

The time is now for AV over IP in corporate settings, says Bob Michaels, ZeeVee CEO

The need for sophisticated AV solutions in the corporate sector has never been greater. Whether for presentations, project collaboration or general communications, video has become a mainstay, with employees needing to share visual content throughout their offices – on monitors, wall-mounted smartboards and embedded conference systems at each seat –  as well as to remote audiences globally.

Common screen placements within an organisation include video walls in lobbies, conference rooms, rec spaces and other common gathering areas. Messaging needs are best met via fully interactive systems that can notify all employees of important company-wide information, allow departments to manage their own specific messaging and encourage participation in company and community events.

Savvy decision makers in the corporate sector are getting wise to the many benefits of AV over IP signal distribution. For starters, it offers high quality video (up to 4K resolution) with near zero latency that enables interactivity in real time. This is crucial for effective two-way communication, particularly in scenarios where language translations are required.

Second, it enables end-users to route content cost-effectively via off-the-shelf IP switches, versus proprietary and expensive matrix switches. These switches, available from trusted providers such as Netgear, are not limited in the number of inputs and outputs they can handle, so sources and monitors can be added without needing to replace existing hardware. These systems can also run on a company’s existing infrastructure.

Third, AV over IP offers the great advantage of enabling the easy creation of video walls (dozens of screens) and multiviews consisting of multiple images displayed on a single monitor from many sources. These can be configured via control platforms that enable source feeds to be quickly dragged and dropped for playback on any connected monitor. This is done with significantly less hardware, such as video wall and/or Multiview processors, therefore minimising hardware and installation costs while at the same time providing greater energy efficiency.

The advantages of AVoIP sure sound compelling, don’t they? Unfortunately, introducing anything new can be challenging and many integrators and end-users may not be interested in going in a direction they are not used to—especially if they are convinced the old way works just fine. If it’s not broken, why fix it? Integrators need to more effectively partner with their equipment providers to better educate themselves so they can effectively promote the enhanced benefits of AV over IP. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show them.”

Once you start to get the buy-in of C-suite decision-makers, the selling job is not done. Perhaps the bigger challenge facing AV integrators comes when they approach the IT pros about running AV content over their company network with security being among the top concerns. Because of this, pro AV professionals need to make the effort to not only learn a few buzz words, but to fully understand the needs and concerns of their IT counterparts.

In a worst case scenario, over-confident AV pros can find themselves in a situation where they don’t have the right answers to the many questions that will arrive from the IT department. Once the integrators’ competence is questioned and trust is broken, projects can be delayed or stopped in their tracks “Fake it ‘till you make it” is not a good strategy.

To prevent this, a commitment is required from all parties involved, including the integrator, product manufacturer and the end-user. For example, integrators should seek out partnerships with manufacturers to get the training they need to connect their product to the network properly. In short, the integrator should strive to know all the necessary ins and outs of AV over IP systems down to each cable connection.

Responsible AV product manufacturers take great pains to proactively work with integrators to make sure they are up to speed on all aspects of installing their products in the corporate market through expert-led webinars, white papers and hands on, face-to-face training. On the reactive side, there is no substitute for offering the support of actual humans to answer quick troubleshooting issues.

AV over IP offers great benefits to end-users in the corporate sector, but it takes AV professionals that are not only skilled at what they traditionally are called on to do, but further understand the IT landscape and needs of their customers. Taking the extra time to prepare will lead to significantly better and more profitable project outcomes.