What Audio and Visual Installations are Supposed to Look LikeEven among multinational corporations that employ thousands, or entire school systems that service thousands of students, real knowledge of modern A/V solutions is rare. That would seem strange, given the increased reliance on technology, a trend that has left no industry untouched. But what these institutions and companies have on hand is IT expertise. The line between IT and A/V is blurry, and it’s getting blurrier all the time. In some critical ways, the two do interact, as IT infrastructure can be configured to monitor and operate A/V equipment to some extent. However, it’s still best to think of the two as separate entities, especially where involved A/V solutions are concerned. While IT is primarily focused on the storing, retrieving, manipulating and examination of data, A/V applies this knowledge to the specialized world of A/V technology, which relies on concepts like optics and acoustics. Asking IT professionals to set up A/V solutions is therefore like asking a biologist to write a paper on geology. The biologist may have some idea of the topic at hand and know what scientific principles are involved, but they are probably only a bit better equipped than a layman. So, that said, it’s essential that commercial and educational institutions know what to look for in an integrator, and what the integration process should look like on their end. The truth is, A/V integration can go wrong when it’s put in the wrong hands, and when it goes wrong, that technology is going to feel like a manacle around the ankle. To avoid that dismal fate, here is some insight into the proper audio and visual installation process:
1. Trustworthy integrators prioritize communication – A/V solutions, at their heart, are about improving communication, so if an integrator is not willing to communicate, that is understandably a bad sign. Responsive communication should be the defining element of the integration process, so it must begin immediately.
Because integration is so involved, and because the vast majority of clients have little, if any, experience with A/V, a reputable integrator will guide the installation and integration process from the very outset.
It starts with a meeting designed to assess needs. Companies and educators may have an intuitive idea of what their A/V needs are, but they could have trouble articulating them. In most cases, those perceived needs can only be explained at a high level, so it is up to the integrator to better suss out what those needs are and tie them to a potential solution. During this meeting, the integrator’s job is to communicate a clear vision and way forward for the project, even getting specific about what technologies will be used and how they can be integrated into the client’s existing network.
If a client walks away from this meeting with no firm idea of what the next step is, then they need a new integrator.
2. Trustworthy integrators also prioritize certification – It seems like there is an organization out there dedicated to certifying its members for nearly every industry. But in the case of A/V professionals, there truly is a need for education and training. And fortunately, there happens to be a reputable certifying organization in the A/V field in Infocomm.
Infocomm coursework covers an incredible range of topics, including techniques for establishing audio uniformity in a space, system fabrication, advanced networking, running cables and just about anything else an A/V professional would expect to encounter in the field. Certification, then, is a real feat in the A/V world.
It’s not always easy to tell who is certified and to what degree. But because Infocomm certification is a major feather in the cap, a firm that maintains a strong standing with the organization is one that will usually advertise it. Look for firms that boast their status as a Certified AudioVisual Solutions Provider. This level means that at least 50 percent of the integrator’s customer service, sales and technical staff have attained basic or advanced certification through Infocomm. It doesn’t get any better than that, if an integrator’s level of knowledge is the concern.
3. Trustworthy integrators don’t stop at the installation – Yes, installation is essential. The equipment has to be arranged and configured properly. It all has to be unified and integrated into a company’s existing network infrastructure. But as any reputable integrator will say, installation is only the beginning.
What follows solution integration is the critical period – the period that will determine whether or not the solution will be a success. This refers to employee or teacher training, ensuring they get comfortable and capable with the system. Training is designed with the user’s perceived level of technical expertise in mind, so users that only need to access the technology on the frontend will learn its interface and functions. Tech admins will receive a much more involved level of training in the system’s functionality.
Further, even the best designed system will need to be supported after installation. Technology ages, grows obsolete, experiences the odd failure, and much of that will take an integrator’s insight to react to. That’s why reputable integrators offer support packages to their clients, so that the technology is kept running around the clock. Partnering with an integrator is a smart, long-term move, as regular updating and system monitoring is essential to maintaining its performance.Audio and visual installations aren’t as simple as plugging and playing. A lot goes into system planning, installation and integration, so it must be overseen by a reputable integrator, or failure is an inevitably. But it shouldn’t take much convincing to bring in an integrator for the job, as a talented integrator can provide ideal solutions in creative, comprehensive ways.