Addition by IntegrationA/V technology may seem simple in theory, but in application, the picture quickly gets complex. Even when dealing with fairly basic solutions like digital signage, there exists an enormous variety of hardware and software options. Nothing is a slam dunk, in other words. Companies could waste a great deal of money and manpower on a clunky tech rollout, only to repeat the process all over again in the near future. And make no mistake, a failed tech switch can have permanent consequences on a company’s finances and personnel. With every fumbled rollout, employees grow more frustrated and lose faith in the company’s decision makers. Tech staff are taxed and morale drops. Partners and clients look elsewhere. And that’s just the human cost. Obviously, businesses are not built to take major losses with any frequency. Avoiding those losses is the chief goal, and an A/V integrator is what makes that goal achievable. But how can an integrator guarantee that? Consider the wholistic, long-term approach that a talented integrator brings to the table:
1. Assessing needs and methods – Before there is a solution, there is a need. Business managers usually have a good handle on what they need from a tech upgrade. Perhaps it’s saving workers’ time, perhaps it’s improving branding, perhaps it’s unifying departments. Whatever the need or needs, integrators can work hand in hand with managers and IT personnel to better define what a desired outcome looks like. This means observing current and anticipated needs. Integrators are particularly adept at the latter, as they can better forecast the future of A/V technology and how a solution will need to be modified with time.
An integrator will dedicate one of its experts to a face to face meeting with the client. During this meeting, the company’s needs and goals are hashed out. Before the meeting is over, the expert should have a plan in place that the client’s leadership team can mull over. From the outset, the direction is clear.
2. Selecting and installing the system’s components – Though a lot can go south when setting up A/V technology without help, the number one issue untrained people run into is interoperability limitations. With so many vendors and software options to choose from, interoperability pitfalls are practically expected if a planned approach is not taken.
A reputable integrator could write volumes on interoperability, as it is something that dominates the decision making in the field. As such, an integrator will select system hardware and software, prioritizing smooth operation between components. Further, integrators will perform the grunt work and verify that the underlying infrastructure is capable of handling the system. This includes configuring the equipment and software to the client’s specifications, even setting up multiple user profiles with varying permissions.
3. Training personnel and assessing system performance – The approach to A/V solutions should not be “set it and forget it” once installed. Employees will need to be introduced to the technology carefully and brought up to speed as quickly as possible. Industry research has demonstrated that if people don’t adapt to new technology right away, they likely never will to a significant degree. That’s why training is so important, and why integrators place major focus on it once system components are in place.
Further, integrators can monitor system usage for their clients and assess if the technology is being utilized to a satisfactory degree, and when it is being utilized. This can prove to be valuable data when it comes time to modify, replace or upgrade system equipment.
4. Providing long-term support and maintenance – A reputable integrator typically seeks a partnership with its clients, offering to keep the system in good working condition over the years. No technology is infallible or eternal, so support comes in the form of regular maintenance and tech support when a failure does occur. Integrators often provide their clients with several support options; the variable factors being expected response time and frequency of regular maintenance and system updating. So, for mission critical system components, a company may want their integrator partner to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And that company may want their mission critical hardware to be inspected frequently to verify performance levels.
But for hardware that’s not quite as important, companies can opt for a less urgent brand of support. This can reduce ongoing expenses and allow clients to prioritize their support needs accordingly.
Also, integrators can both perform remote support and offer managed services to their clients, which is like having an A/V expert in-house for the company’s needs.Technology in any form is a challenge, and that includes A/V systems. But with an experienced integrator steering system planning and execution, it’s a challenge that any company can be prepared to meet head on.