How often should AV technology be upgraded?It’s a difficult mindset to get out of, trying to squeeze every last minute out of a piece of hardware. It’s something we all do with the technology we have at home, and for consumers, it may be an approach that makes sense. Consumer technology, after all, is rarely relied on to optimize productivity. That’s not the case with business-class hardware, though, which must drive productivity. And in this context, utilizing A/V hardware until it collapses is far from the most cost-effective solution. Such an approach will waste more than the company’s money, as failing hardware is frustrating to deal with. This is the reason integrators strongly recommend companies schedule refresh cycles for their A/V equipment. Refresh cycles are standard practice for handling most forms of technology, and for good reason. Technology is iterated on at a breakneck pace, especially in the A/V field. A leading edge, impressively innovative solution will supercharge a company’s ability to communicate and collaborate, but even the most capable hardware will need to be replaced after several years. Scheduling refresh cycles with a trusted A/V integrator is the most efficient way to manage hardware replacement and ensures that a company gets the most out of its continued investment in A/V solutions.
Hit the refresh buttonMost companies would prefer to keep their costs down, so how does investing more often in something like A/V make sense? Regularly reinvesting in the company’s A/V infrastructure is almost always the most cost-effective option. Of course, this does depend on what technology is being replaced, the state of the company’s current A/V equipment and what the A/V technology is used for. Again, refresh cycles make sense in almost every context, but several factors may affect how long each cycle should be. In general, it’s best to aim for somewhere between four and seven years. At this point, it’s likely that some of the hardware will begin experiencing slower performance. And in the world of A/V, four to seven years is plenty of time for manufacturers to roll out new hardware models with increased technological advances. While this clears up how often businesses should execute their refresh cycles, many still may wonder why it should be considered in the first place, and why an A/V integrator should oversee the process. Here’s a closer look:
1. Refresh cycles allow companies to take advantage of new A/V solutions – During a refresh cycle, the A/V integrator takes a close look at the role every piece of hardware serves and determines whether that hardware could be replaced with something more effective. Because A/V technology is advancing at an incredible rate, even a period of four years is enough for manufacturers to release something that can do the job better and more efficiently. New solutions aren’t always better solutions, but they often are, as they often provide additional functionality that previous generations did not.
This is where an A/V integrator can make a huge difference for a company. Without an A/V expert on hand to investigate the market for better solutions, most businesses would be left adrift, with no clear direction as to what hardware to bring in next. An integrator makes the tough decisions with their client, finding hardware that will integrate well into the company’s infrastructure, meet the company’s needs and do so at a manageable cost. The integrator will also install and configure the new hardware, taking care of one more step in the process.
2. Refresh cycles identify and mitigate failing hardware – A refresh cycle can find new hardware that performs tasks better, and it can root out older hardware that is no longer making the grade. With time, most technology will be rendered obsolete. The only question is, how soon? Business-class hardware is placed under constant strain, running day and night, and occasionally in conditions that further tax the technology. A/V integrators are experts at reducing the impact of this wear and tear, but even talented integrators can’t turn back the clock.
As A/V hardware ages, it will experience more frequent slowdowns and technical issues. These are manageable at first, but they eventually cause frustration and interruptions in communication and workflow. At this point, keeping the hardware around will cost more than it’s worth, and the hit to employee morale should be factored into the equation.
When integrators begin a refresh cycle, they run diagnostics on any A/V hardware that could be producing slowdowns. Before long, they will have a complete picture of how every component is performing and will make replacement recommendations accordingly. Even if there is no revolutionary solution ready to replace an aging piece of equipment, removing problematic hardware is often enough to make the investment cost worth it.
3. Refresh cycles make for orderly transitions – A refresh cycle is a stopping point, a milestone. When the company reaches one of these stopping points, it can make all the changes it needs to regarding its A/V infrastructure. This approach ensures that technology is not replaced haphazardly and without expert oversight. If there is no defined process for replacing hardware, eventually someone may make a purchase that has already been made by someone else. Eventually an inferior piece of hardware will be purchased, or hardware that isn’t compatible with the existing infrastructure. Leaving such purchasing decisions up in the air is unwise, and a refresh cycle keeps everything grounded.
A/V integrators look at refresh cycles as an opportunity to straighten out their client’s A/V infrastructure and take another look at their client’s needs. With everyone is on the same page regarding potential A/V upgrades and restructuring, the integrator can provide the ideal solution for their client.Everything is part of a cycle, and A/V technology is no different. But refresh cycles afford integrators and their clients an opportunity to do things better, optimize productivity and give employees new, more engaging tools to work with.