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Four Most Common Conference Room Issues and How Your AV Integrator Can Help

Four Most Common Conference Room Issues and How Your AV Integrator Can Help

The Four Most Common Conference Room Issues (and how your AV integrator can help)

Video conferencing has come a long way in the last couple decades, to the point where most conferencing-related frustrations have been eliminated through innovation. Gone are the days where muddy images, stuttering frame rates and complicated software made conferencing a chore. Compared to 20 years ago, video conferencing is pleasant and simple.

Like with any technology, though, there is still room for improvement. While most of the technical issues have been ironed out, some organizations have difficulty fully integrating video conferencing into their processes, and audio is a hurdle for many spaces.

Here, we’ll go over some of the most common conference room issues and how an AV integrator can help your organization overcome them.

Our Conference Rooms Aren’t Getting Enough Use

Some video conferencing issues aren’t related to the technology, but the space dedicated to the technology. It’s common, for example, for businesses to add a lot of conference rooms quickly, only to find that many of those rooms are underutilized. Finding the right balance between too few and too many conference rooms is tough. Every empty conference room is wasted space, but too few conference rooms and your teams won’t collaborate as well as they could.

If your video conferencing spaces aren’t picking up enough interest, then the problem may be how the conference rooms are organized. Instead of sticking the same conference table in every conferencing space, change up the furniture, layout and design of your meeting rooms. A sofa and a couple of lounge chairs, for instance, will encourage small teams to meet informally.

An AV integrator can help organizations make big changes to their video conferencing rooms if they aren’t justifying their investment. For example, if your large conferencing spaces are only hosting small meetings, then turning that space into a dedicated collaboration room or splitting it up into multiple huddle rooms could improve your technology adoption rates.

We Don’t Have Enough Conference Rooms For All Of Our Meetings

This is the opposite problem – too many meetings and not enough video conferencing rooms to accommodate them all.

One solution is to expand your video conferencing footprint, adding more conferencing spaces to make up the difference. This is a significant investment, but if your organization is tight on both space and resources, AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS) can help your business acquire needed video conferencing technology without making a major capital investment. Instead, organizations pay for their AV solutions monthly, using an OpEx approach. This provides budgeting certainty and valuable AV assets at once.

Another option is to maintain tighter control over how your conferencing spaces are utilized. If your teams are all trying to meet at the same time, your peak usage times may overwhelm your conferencing spaces while leaving them empty the rest of the day. That’s not a space problem, but a scheduling problem.

Room scheduling solutions are a proven way to eliminate meeting space bottlenecks and can be used in tandem with other AV solutions. With room scheduling, professional teams must reserve a room in advance, so there’s no overlap in usage. Room scheduling works best when tied to a shared calendar, so users can see what rooms and time slots are available before reserving a room.

The only potential challenge with room scheduling is ensuring people don’t reserve rooms that they don’t end up using. This is frustrating for other teams, but it can be mitigated with minimal effort. For example, if a team doesn’t show up to a reserved room, an e-mail can be automatically sent out to the meeting’s organizer alerting them to the missed reservation.

It’s Difficult For Everyone To Hear Each Other During Meetings

On the technical side, video conferencing solutions run with minimal disruption. When there is an issue, though, it’s frequently the audio that’s causing the problem.

There are a few reasons why poor audio could be plaguing your video conference rooms. A lot of the time, it’s the room’s acoustics interfering with how sound travels through the space. Poor acoustics are normally the result of sound waves bouncing off of hard surfaces in the room. AV integrators have technology they can use to model a room’s acoustics and make meaningful improvements. Adding soft, padded surfaces and furniture can help, as well as baffles or soundproof materials.

Poor audio may also be an audio hardware problem. If there aren’t enough microphones in the room, or if the microphones aren’t positioned close enough to the meeting’s participants, then your room may not be capturing enough audio. If output volume is too low, then an AV integrator can add speakers or reposition existing speakers for better audio coverage.

Connecting To The Conferencing Room Is A Real Pain

Once a conference is underway, there’s usually little to worry about. It’s the getting started part that’s tough for many, and it often comes down to connectivity.

Some organizations prefer to toss out the cables altogether and invest in wireless connectivity. Solutions like wireless presentation systems can support this approach. However, it’s still a good idea to have wired connectivity options when network resources are scarce.

There are also challenges with wired connectors, of course. One is ensuring you have enough connectors for your conference spaces. Another is cable management. Businesses can solve both problems at once by routing their cables through the table. There are conference room tables built for this purpose, and it ensures everyone has the physical connectors they need without dragging a cable across the room.

AV Integrators Can Troubleshoot And Resolve Your Conference Room Issues

Conference room issues aren’t common, but they’re frustrating when they do occur. If your organization is having trouble getting optimal value out of its conference rooms and if frustration is mounting, then a certified AV integrator can help. Experienced AV integrators spend a lot of time designing, installing and supporting conference room solutions, and they can spot and eliminate conference room issues before they become more than just issues.

Using AV Technology To Improve Sound Quality In Schools

Using AV Technology To Improve Sound Quality In Schools

AV Technology Can Improve Sound Quality In Schools

Few classrooms are designed with acoustics in mind, and that’s a problem for students. Poor audio quality is everywhere in U.S. classrooms, interfering with students’ ability to learn and remain engaged. Research presented by the Acoustical Society of America shows that excessive noise and vibration can reduce the amount of information delivered to students by up to 25 percent.

AV solutions can help schools overcome these acoustical difficulties. Audio enhancement systems are designed to boost the important sound (the teacher) and suppress everything else.

What Is The Value Of Good Sound In Schools?

Modern classrooms still rely on traditional lectures, and students spend about 75 percent of their time in school listening. With so much information being transmitted via sound, strong audio quality is critical for effective learning. Good audio is elusive in many classrooms, though, as they’re often too large for teachers to fill the room with their voice. Ambient noise only makes it harder for teachers to be heard.

Schools are turning to audio enhancement solutions to resolve this issue, and there are a variety of benefits to the technology. For example:

Audio Enhancement Helps Students Learn And Recall Information Better

According to studies, audio quality tracks with information quality. The easier it is for students to hear the teacher, the easier it is for those students to understand and remember what is being taught.

Audio enhancement boosts the teacher’s voice, ensuring crisp, clear audio reaches every student in the room. Audio enhancement can also overcome ambient noise, which is frequently loud enough to interfere with the lesson.

Audio Enhancement Improves Academic Outcomes For Students At The Back Of The Classroom

Some classrooms are large enough that it’s almost impossible for a teacher to project their voice through the entire space. This won’t be noticed by students sitting close to the front, but students in the back frequently miss important parts of the lesson because it never makes it there. Unsurprisingly, these students are more likely to fall behind in at least one subject by the sixth grade.

Audio enhancement helps teachers project their voice to the back of the room without yelling, so students in the back of the classroom remain just as engaged as those in the front.

Audio Enhancement Preserves The Teacher’s Voice

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngologists, more than half of U.S. teachers will develop a voice problem during their careers. Muscle pains, hoarseness and vocal tiredness are a few symptoms of voice strain, and they can be severe enough to result in missed teaching time.

Audio enhancement is a frontline solution for preserving teachers’ voices. With an audio enhancement system in place, educators don’t need to raise their voices while speaking.

What AV Solutions Deliver Better Sound In Schools?

Audio enhancement solutions are provided through AV integrators, and though they vary a bit in design, they all do the same thing – boost the clarity and volume of classroom audio. Leading classroom audio brands engineer a range of solutions for every budget and educational space. Two of those brands are Audio Enhancement and Frontrow. Here’s a closer look at their products:

Audio Enhancement’s Classroom Audio Solutions

Audio Enhancement is a pioneer in classroom audio and has provided solutions for more than 40 years. Some of its classroom audio solutions provide exactly that – better audio in a single classroom. Some are designed for integration into a larger, schoolwide audio solution.

The Beam and Mini Media solutions, for example, are economical classroom audio options that fill a single room with crisp audio. Its Optimum solution is on the other end of the complexity spectrum. It provides full network connectivity and two-way communication, so it can be used in conjunction with the school’s bells, intercom system and emergency alert system.

All Audio Enhancement’s solutions consist of an amplifier, receiver, microphone and speakers. There are several microphone and speaker designs to choose from, including 360-degree microphones and ceiling-mounted speakers.

Frontrow’s Classroom Audio Solutions

Frontrow has been around for more than a half-century and provides classroom audio solutions to more than 25 countries. Among its product offerings are the ToGo, Pro Digital, Juno Classroom and ezRoom Classroom.

The ToGo is Frontrow’s mobile audio option, perfect for PE classes, playgrounds and the bus line. It is easily portable and all of the system’s components can be carried in a single hand. It’s built with a second audio driver for better coverage and is PFM compatible, so it can be used with assistive listening devices.

The Pro Digital is Frontrow’s most economical and simplest classroom audio option. It can be placed on a shelf if needed and teachers can learn to control it in minutes. Pro Digital is ideal for schools that need a budget-friendly option that has an extremely high adoption rate.

The Juno and ezRoom solutions offer more. Juno utilizes Frontrow’s SonicSuffusion technology to deliver pitch-perfect audio to classrooms of any size. It also recognizes voice commands and can be used to control room technologies and record lessons. The ezRoom offers full AV integration with the room’s AV technologies and integration with the school’s communications. Bells, intercom systems and emergency messaging can all be run through the ezRoom, as a result.

Your AV Integrator Can Install And Support Audio Enhancement Solutions

While classroom audio solutions are designed for ease of use, all AV solutions are easier to install, configure, and maintain with a certified integrator’s expertise. Experienced AV integrators spend a lot of their time in classrooms and know how to accommodate existing technologies while integrating new ones.

Students need to hear before they can learn, and the better the audio, the more they will hear. Investing in better classroom audio is investing in student success.

Considerations for Purchasing Technology

One of the biggest challenges facing corporate technology consumers today is how to acquire technology in the most economically sound way possible. While a school, corporation, or government entity will want to upgrade some of their current technology but not have enough capital or approved capital to make the exorbitant purchase, it still may be possible if they pay monthly for the use of these devices via a service agreement with a reputable AV integrator. This could even allow the client to use more advanced technology than they would have been able to afford otherwise.

Most clients tend to focus on the technology itself, but the better thing is to strategize is how to obtain modern devices you need at a price point and predictability you and the finance department can afford. It is not as hard as you might think

Financial Considerations for Purchasing Technology

Before a consumer signs on the dotted line for any type of technology agreement, there are some thoughts to keep in mind and talk over with all levels of your organization including the financial department. Some specific points of consideration for these parties include:

  • What means do you plan to use to acquire new technology?
  • Are you willing or able to finance it?
  • Are you willing or able to pay cash?
  • What type of return do you want for this particular expense?
  • Will the technology you plan to invest in quickly become obsolete?

An organization or corporation’s answers to these questions can help guide them in exactly what kind of technology they want and by what means they should purchase it.

Expenditures 101

Clients that are on track to upgrade or buy new technology generally follow one of two tracks when it comes to expenditures:

  1. OpEx: Operating Expenditure
  2. CapEx: Capital Expenditure

Operating expenditures are basically monthly expenses that will appear on the profit and loss sheet. Because this expenditure is spread out over an extended time period at a predictable cost and is lower risk, it is generally much more appealing to financers. Examples of an operating expenditure might be a subscription that a company has with a provider such as Microsoft, Amazon, or Apple. It allows them to use the service on an as needed basis.

Capital expenditures tend to be less popular with a company’s finance leaders because it requires a quite large up-front investment. For this reason, this type of expenditure is difficult for both public and private enterprises to manage. Essentially, this method allows a user to acquire a fixed asset by paying cash or borrowed money on the front end in one large sum. The other part of a capital expenditure that can deter financial approval is the amount of groundwork it can take from coming up with the capital to getting budgetary approval to finding a funding source.

Typically, an operating expenditure will have more success for most corporations, schools, and even government entities.

Making Your Money Work for You When Technology Changes and Improves Every Day

The truth is that all technology is quickly becoming obsolete. This is generally true of every piece of technology that affects our lives. Why? Because technology is constantly improving at a rate so fast that the modern technology of today may be as good as obsolete in only a few years’ time.

For example, a study found that a ninety-eight-inch LED display depreciates significantly over a three-year time period. At the end of that time, the device will have likely depreciated by ninety-six percent.  This is a staggering statistic that indicates that at the end of three years, that display will only have retained four percent of its initial value, a whopping four hundred dollars.

All this to say that for a client today wanting modern technology, it simply makes more sense to use audio visual as a service so that in a few years’ time, they can reevaluate the tools they are using and potentially do a reasonable upgrade for about the same monthly payment as before.

The Benefits of Audio Visual as a Service

Audio Visual as a Service, more commonly referred to as AVaaS, has been around for a little while but is becoming somewhat of a new trend. Its popularity is due in large part to the fact that it allows a company to get the total tech solution they are hoping for and to pay for it gradually over time.

Some of the primary benefits of using Audio Visual as a Service are:

  • Establishes better use of cash flow. In other words, by doing this as an operating expense, it can save the client from spending a large amount of cash up-front. Instead, the client can hang onto their cash and invest in something else that could earn a significant return for their business because it is not recommended to fully invest in a rapidly depreciating asset with a capital expenditure. It is unnecessary to own the technology. Over a period of three years a client can use the technology and at the end choose to refresh it, potentially keeping it close to the same monthly payment they were already paying. Using AVaaS can keep a company from depleting their cash and therefore allow them to have more on hand for other unexpected expenses.
  • Preserves credit better. Most businesses do have a credit line so that if there is a purchase they need cash for, they can use it. However, this may not be the best way to finance a purchase if it can be avoided. AVaaS allows a client to preserve their credit while still letting the client access technology on an affordable monthly basis.
  • Manages risk more efficiently. One of the best ways to invest in technology is to pay for equipment as you are simultaneously generating a profit. This provides a more balanced return than paying with a huge lump sum of cash up front and not getting as good of a return in the future.
  • Streamlines budgeting. Corporate financial officers and departments like stable budgets and predictable spending because it reduces risk. By using AVaaS, it can help create a stable IT budget with predictable monthly spending over three years. And because it involves less risk, the operating expenditure usually presents less red tape to work through for approval.
  • Helps combat inflation. Today the world is seeing a period of high inflation in which many items are experiencing a huge price increase. The Consumer Price Index is higher than it has been in almost three decades, and it is affecting everyone’s pocketbooks. With no sign of inflation letting up in the foreseeable future, AVaaS can allow clients a hedge against inflation with predictable monthly payments.

It is possible to have technology and it be affordable in the same way it is for you have your cake and eat it too. Plan ahead, be smart and make your investment work for you.

Does Your Organization Use and Love Zoom? The Zoom Phone Could Be a Good Fit!

Zoom Phone

Does Your Organization Use and Love Zoom? The Zoom Phone Could Be a Good Fit!

The Zoom Phone is a modern, cloud-based business communications solution. It offers a single platform for video, chat, and voice, and it also facilitates collaboration between team members. Even better, it can be seamlessly integrated into any organization’s existing communications, as the Zoom Phone is designed for interoperability across major carriers and hardware providers.

More than 300 million people participate in a Zoom conference every day, and in 2021, Zoom participants logged more than 3.3 trillion minutes’ worth of meetings. It’s safe to say that many companies rely on Zoom for their conferencing and communication, and those companies can expand their capabilities further with the Zoom Phone.

6 Zoom Phone Features Worth Considering

The Zoom Phone is laden with productivity- and communication-enhancing features. Six features that can make an immediate impact in your organization include:

Seamless, unified call experience

Zoom Phone is a separate product inside of the Zoom platform, and with it, your teams can receive calls over Wi-Fi or with cellular voice or data. These calls can be managed through a traditional desk phone, with a mobile device, or through a headset. Once your team receives a call, they can move it to another device without dropping it.

For example, a team member receives a call through their headset. After a couple minutes, both people in the call agree it would be good to switch over to a video conference. The call is first moved over to the employee’s own mobile device, where they continue the conversation until reaching the conference room. From their device, your team member transitions the call to a room conferencing system, which could be a Zoom Room or another conferencing platform. At no point is the person on the other end put on hold, and within a couple minutes, the call can be moved to any device or medium that would be optimal for the conversation.

Your team members can also start a call from anywhere because anywhere your teams can access the Zoom platform, they can access Zoom Phone. Whether they are at their desk, in a conference room or in the field, your teams can call, conference and collaborate.

Multiple and shared line management

Zoom Phone’s robust multiple and shared line management is ideal for call centers, support teams, and any department that delegates calls to several employees at once. From the backend, managers can set up multiple lines and assign team members to them. On each line, managers can also set up intelligent call routing using one of a few options. For instance, managers can opt to distribute calls simultaneously, so every phone rings at once, or have them distributed to each person sequentially. On the backend, managers can also set the maximum wait time, toggle hold music, or set a recorded prompt.

Centralized management portal

Zoom Phone ensures device and system management is simple to handle, as from a single portal, your IT personnel can monitor system uptime and reliability across your organization’s entire Zoom Phone network. From here, users can power Zoom Phone devices on or off, push over updates or provision phones for use.

Call performance monitoring

Zoom Phone also makes it simple to track the quality of all calls through its backend. Here, your technical personnel can track inbound and outbound call volume and the average quality score over time. Zoom Phone uses the Mean Opinion Score scale to determine audio and video quality, taking into account network issues like latency, jitter and packet loss. With this performance monitoring portal, your IT people can quickly troubleshoot quality issues by isolating them to the exact call and working from there.

Integrated directories

Zoom also integrates contact directories into its Zoom Phone platform, which makes it easy for your employees to contact who they need to, when they need to. When using Zoom Phone’s integrated directory, users can quickly find contacts and their information using nothing but a name. This can help employees contact each other internally, or easily contact clients.

Call recording and voicemail transcription

It’s common for businesses to record their calls in order to enhance training and customer service. With Zoom Phone, it’s never been easier to record calls and play them back at a later time. During the call, all the user has to do is toggle call recording on through the main Zoom Phone interface.

Users can also access voicemail transcriptions through the main interface. After reviewing a voicemail, users can call back with a single button press.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Help with Additional Equipment for Your Zoom Areas

Zoom Phone solutions are designed to unify communications in a way that’s intuitive for people to grasp. As intuitive as the technology is, though, having a trusted AV integrator on hand will ensure your organization gets the most value from its Zoom Phone solution. Here’s how:

  • Certified integrators can package Zoom Phone as part of a larger solution – In the pursuit of unified corporate communications, Zoom Phone is usually just one part of the fix. Other technologies, like room-based video conferencing systems and digital signage, may also be part of a company’s communications strategy.
    A certified AV integrator will ensure that all of these components are working with each other effectively, which minimizes the likelihood of system downtime, user error and performance issues. Modern AV solutions are expected to work every time and to work quickly, and that means proper system integration is crucial.
  • Certified integrators can provide long term support and maintenance – As reliable and effective as modern AV solutions are, technical support or hardware maintenance will eventually be needed. A certified integrator can provide these services to their client as part of an extended maintenance agreement. Such an agreement typically includes services like onsite and remote technical support, preventative maintenance and performance monitoring, warranty handling, hardware shipping and anything else essential to system upkeep. With an AV integrator on hand to provide support when needed, your Zoom Phone solution’s lifespan and efficiency will be optimized.

If your organization is committed to the Zoom ecosystem, Zoom Phone is ideal for unifying and simplifying communications. With the Zoom Phone, your teams are always able to collaborate, plan and prepare, no matter where they are or what device they are using.

How Is Makerspace Making A Difference In The Classroom

How Is Makerspace Making A Difference In The Classroom

How Is Makerspace Making A Difference In The Classroom?

Most educational trends come and go, but some are so effective and engaging that they only grow in popularity with time. Makerspace caught on among educators about 20 years ago, and since then, the number of makerspaces has rocketed up. While you can find them practically anywhere, makerspaces are a natural fit for schools where STEM education is a focus.

Not only are makerspaces a great reinforcer for STEM education, both teachers and students love them. It’s not easy to find an educational solution that drives better learning, creativity, and student engagement all in one package, but makerspaces check all the boxes.

What Is A Makerspace?

It’s all in the name. A makerspace is a space where the purpose is to make things. While there’s no limit on what you can make in a makerspace (the idea is creative production, after all), in educational settings, it’s common to see STEM-focused spaces. Simple circuit-making, LEGO building, and robotics are all popular makerspace projects that students can handle with minimal guidance.

That’s the great thing about makerspaces – they can be used to run structured lessons or allow students to explore without limitations. Many educators find that the best approach is a little of both. Start students out with a traditional lesson and they’ll get comfortable enough with the makerspace to captain their own projects.

What Are Some Leading Makerspace Solutions?

Makerspaces vary greatly in their size, layout and contents, so there are few limitations when setting one up. A couple extra tables over there in the corner? That could be a makerspace. An unused, 5,000 square-foot auditorium? That could also be a makerspace.

Size isn’t everything with makerspaces—it’s what’s inside that counts. That means technology and furniture that facilitate the creative process. To get the most out of your new makerspace, consider solutions like these:

Active, Modular Furniture

A lot of makerspaces are built to drive collaboration between students. Group projects are popular in makerspaces, particularly in schools that engage in STEM and robotics competitions.

To facilitate both group and individual work, opt for desks and tables that can do both. Spectrum’s line of Aspire tables, for example, are designed to fit together in a variety of combinations. They’re built on casters, so when it’s time to split up, they can be wheeled to any spot by any student. Aspire tables are also available in several shapes, so they can be used with groups of any size.

Another popular solution is Spectrum’s Flex Active Flip Table, especially in rooms where space is at a premium. The Flex Active Flip Table is also mounted on casters and provides plenty of desktop room to get STEM stuff done. When time’s up, though, Flex Active Flip Tables can be flipped up to shrink their footprint and make storage a snap.

Storage Furniture And Carts

Makerspaces can get messy with all of the making going on. Minimizing that mess is important to ensure every student has a chance to create.

It’s much easier to keep things organized with storage furniture and carts, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Spectrum’s Exploration Station and Roller Teacher Station are two examples, and can be used to store a variety of materials. They are also designed with electrical outlets for device charging, which is always helpful in a STEM-focused space.

Spectrum also makes storage carts that provide added functionality. The TechCenter cart, for instance, can be used to mount a dry erase board or digital display. Other options include the Pathway, Builder and Explorer carts, which can provide storage, organization, charging, and additional workspace for students. Spectrum even has a cart that can hold a 3D printer and 3D printing materials.

STEM Storage And Charging Modules

A lot of schools use their makerspaces to reinforce STEM lessons. That means a lot of device usage, and that means makerspaces need extra device storage and charging capacity.

If cabinet space is at a minimum, another option is outfitting a mobile cart with STEM storage and charging modules. These modules can be easily added or removed from the cart.

Spectrum produces a number of modules designed for its Pathway cart. The S1, S2 and S3 modules are compatible with an array of popular robotics devices, including Sphero, Ozobot, Cubelets and Wonder Workshop robots. When not in use, the robots can be stored, organized, and charged all at once, so they’re ready for the next class.

Other storage and charging modules include phone, laptop and VR headset stations.

Interactive Digital Displays

If your makerspace is going to be used for structured lessons or collaborative work, interactive digital displays can make both easier and more engaging.

Displays like the Clevertouch and ActivPanel are versatile makerspace solutions that can be used by the instructor or by students. Teachers can use an interactive display to introduce lesson material and media that get students inspired. Students can use the display to whiteboard their ideas and visually brainstorm together. If your makerspace is large enough, consider grouping your making spaces into pods and combining each pod with an interactive display. Teachers can control all of the displays at once this way and introduce the lesson without everyone needing to crowd around the instructor’s space.

Make The Most Out Of Your Makerspace With The Right AV Hardware

Making things encourages students to develop their creativity and express themselves in ways that aren’t possible in a typical classroom. Schools have caught onto this and are reserving space just for making, but space isn’t enough.

Technology and furniture can unlock your makerspace’s potential, with solutions that make the making process more productive.

What Are The Best Components Of Digital Signage Content

What Are The Best Components Of Digital Signage Content

What Effective Digital Signage Looks Like

Digital signage is a powerful communication tool that any organization can leverage for its benefit. However, optimizing signage technology can be a challenge because it takes more than an eye-catching layout to be truly effective. Visuals are important, but there’s more to think about when determining the best components of digital signage content, including:

  • What messages and information your signage is sending
  • When your signage is sending those messages
  • Whether those messages support your organization’s goals

From this perspective, it’s easy to see how even a beautifully crafted layout could miss the mark. Fortunately, putting together effective digital signage isn’t difficult once you know what it looks like.

How To Get The Best Results From Your Digital Signage Content

There’s no competing with strong digital signage, and marketing professionals agree. According to a 2017 Samsung UK study, 84 percent of UK retailers believe that digital signage creates “significant brand awareness.” The other 16 percent may have just needed better signage that follows these principles:

  1. Deliver messages that your visitors want to see – If you’re running a restaurant, your digital signage should make people hungry. If you’re running a clothing boutique, your digital signage should convey luxury and beauty. If you’re running a truck dealership, your digital signage should emphasize power. You get the idea.
    When someone walks into your shop, bank, hotel or school, they’re looking for something. If your digital signage immediately confirms that the thing they want is here, then they’re more likely to stay. This could be as simple as running a well-shot video or cycling through images of new arrivals. Give your products the platform they need to sell themselves with signage that shows them off.
  2. Make sure your communication is timely and responsive – If your business is affected by the calendar or by the weather, then program layouts that respond to changing conditions. When hot weather is on the horizon, a department store could switch its signage to outdoor-focused products. When it starts raining, a restaurant could use its signage to advertise delivery services. This approach gets results, as industry studies find a 5 to 10 percent increase in sales among companies that use responsive layouts.
  3. Keep it simple and get to the point – Although people look at digital signage longer than static layouts, you still only have a few seconds to get your message across. There’s only so much information you can deliver in that time frame, so communicate what you need to and get rid of everything else. Remove any extra layout zones that aren’t enforcing the main message and minimize your visual elements so people look at what they should look at. Consider whether advanced visual effects like animation are the right choice for your layouts, too. Motion is a big attention grabber but adds to message complexity if not handled properly.
  4. Several layouts are better than one – Standard industry wisdom suggests that a single layout should be on screen long enough for someone to read it three to five times. Any shorter, and people will be overwhelmed by the amount of visual information. Any longer, and people will direct their attention elsewhere. Stick to this formula and cycle through several layouts that build on or complement each other. A steady stream of brand-reinforcing information will keep your visitors engaged and focused on your messaging.
  5. Consider third party applications for additional functionality – There’s a ton of third-party apps that can enhance what your digital signage does. Social media feeds, sports, news, weather, trivia – if your signage is meant to entertain and occupy as well as inform, there are plenty of apps for that.

Choosing The Right Digital Signage Components

A digital signage system consists of the following components:

We’ve covered what good digital signage content looks like, but what about the rest of the package? Here’s what to look for when it’s time to select hardware:

  1. The display – So many displays can be used with digital signage that no matter what your digital signage needs to do, there is likely a hardware solution perfect for the job. Individual commercial displays can work in hallways and behind reception desks and are engineered for continuous operation.
    But digital signage displays can be scaled up to an incredible degree. Imagine the impact a curved, contouring display the size of an entire room could have on your messaging. Video walls that can be built to a shape or size are available, and still rare enough that they are impossible not to notice.
  2. The media player – Digital signage media players store and deliver content when it is requested, so it’s the brains of the operation. As such, the quality of your media players will dictate the quality of your signage. If your signage solution scales up enough, multiple media players are a must. Until then, though, choose a media player that offers high quality playback and support for most content formats. This will prevent any technical hiccups from interfering with your signage. Strong security is also critical and should be considered at the physical, OS and application level.
  3. The signage software – Leading digital signage software allows users to create layouts, program them and store them for future use. In this way, digital signage software is a design program and CMS rolled into one. This makes it a crucial part of the solution, so pick one that offers what your organization needs. Is it important to have hundreds of templates to design from? Do you need to manage one display or one thousand? Is real-time monitoring and updating a must? There’s no shortage of software solutions out there for digital signage, which is why many organizations turn to an AV expert for guidance when it’s time to select one.

An AV Integrator Can Help With Digital Signage Management and Content Creation

Experienced AV integrators work with digital signage a lot. It’s one of the most popular AV solutions because it can be deployed by almost anyone and almost anywhere. With this degree of familiarity, certified integrators can match their clients with the optimal signage hardware and software. That’s in addition to installing, configuring and maintaining the technology.

Beyond that, though, an integrator can also manage your digital signage network if it’s too much to juggle in-house. Not only will that free up your IT personnel for other tasks, it ensures that your digital signage continues delivering value long after it’s integrated.

Why Is AVaaS Important

Why Is AVaaS Important

AV-as-a-Service, or AVaaS, allows organizations to acquire AV technology without making a major, upfront capital investment. With AVaaS, an AV integrator installs, configures and maintains the system for a monthly fee. This arrangement can be contracted out for as long as the organization prefers, allowing businesses and schools to precisely forecast their technology expenses. In this way, AVaaS is much like Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS.

AV’s presence in education and business is increasing. More people than ever are working and learning from home, and AV is central to this trend. It’s a trend that’s likely here to stay, so remaining competitive means investing in AV. AVaaS makes that possible for organizations that wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to do so.

What’s included with AVaaS?

AVaaS is designed to simplify the AV procurement and installation process for organizations. If you’re working with a reputable integrator, you can expect the following from your AVaaS agreement:

AV hardware that meets your AV needs

An AVaaS agreement includes all of the AV hardware your organization requires for its needs. As every organization’s AV needs are different, that means AVaaS typically includes a customized solution that the integrator puts together for the client. There’s limitless room to scale an AVaaS solution up or down, so whether you need one or a thousand conferencing systems, AVaaS can be made to fit.

The integrator will also install and configure this equipment to the client’s preferences.

The manpower needed to maintain your new AV solutions

AV solutions require ongoing support and maintenance to maintain their performance. You’ll need an AV specialist for that maintenance, though, which is why reputable integrators provide expert manpower with AVaaS.

If needed, an integrator can monitor your new equipment for any performance drop offs and respond before those performance hiccups result in downtime. An integrator can also provide ongoing technical support, either remote or onsite, and recommend technology upgrades when it’s time to replace hardware.

An expert, long-term technology partner

The world of AV is complicated and having an experienced integrator on call is a major advantage. That’s what AVaaS offers, in addition to the hardware and manpower. Your AVaaS integrator can modify or upgrade solutions as needed, and help your organization keep pace with industry developments.

Three reasons to choose AVaaS

With AVaaS, organizations can acquire AV technology using an OpEx model rather than making a capital investment. Here are three reasons why that’s a big plus for businesses:

AVaaS won’t disrupt your company’s budget

OpEx tends to be favored by companies with minimal cash reserves or cash flow. There’s no major lump sum that has to be paid out and AVaaS expenses can be forecast well into the future. This provides a great deal of budgeting certainty to businesses, making it much easier to manage your AV investment from a bottom-line standpoint.

This becomes more of an advantage as your AV technology ages. With a CapEx approach, additional capital expenses will be needed when it’s time to upgrade or replace equipment. Incorporating that into your technology budget can be difficult, but it’s not a problem with AVaaS. When it’s time to modify your AV technology, your monthly AVaaS installments will only change slightly. So, even when new technology is needed, your budget won’t be stressed.

AVaaS exposes businesses to minimal risk

There’s little risk associated with AVaaS. We’ve already gone over a big part of that – predictable future costs. It’s easier to minimize risk when your costs are locked in, but that’s not the only reason why AVaaS helps organizations manage their AV risk.

The other reason is this – AVaaS allows organizations to explore AV solutions without committing to them with capital. It’s common for businesses and schools to reimagine their AV needs once a solution is in place. AVaaS allows organizations to maintain their flexibility when it comes to their AV technology. If a particular solution isn’t working out as planned, an alternative can be switched in with minimal cost and effort. If the technology is working better than expected, then AVaaS solutions can be scaled up quickly.

There’s always wiggle room with AVaaS, from a budgetary and operational standpoint. With an additional margin of error to work with, it’s easier for organizations to nail down an ideal solution through AVaaS.

AVaaS provides organizations with a long-term technology partner

It’s easy to forget the “S” in AVaaS, but service is a big part of the AVaaS advantage. With AVaaS, your organization has an AV expert in its immediate network. Experienced AV integrators understand the value that comes with a long-term client, and AVaaS makes it easy and cost effective for businesses and schools to establish this long-term relationship.

This may not be a big deal for big businesses, but for small and medium businesses, expert support can make the difference. Smaller organizations may not have the resources to staff an AV specialist full-time, which makes it tough to monitor and maintain any AV hardware. AVaaS ensures this support is in place so your organization can optimize its technologies.

An AV integrator can also provide long-range insight into how your solutions can be developed over time. The goal is to maximize AV impact while minimizing costs, and it’s much easier to pull that off with an expert guiding the process.

Optimize your AV investment with AVaaS

AV technology offers better communication, better collaboration, better recruiting, better productivity and better branding. That’s a lot to like, and with AVaaS, organizations can secure those advantages without exposing themselves to too much risk. If your company or school needs to modernize its technology while managing costs, AVaaS is a perfect fit.

How AV Can Bridge The Generation Gap To Keep Business On Point

How AV Can Bridge The Generation Gap To Keep Business On Point

How AV Can Bridge The Generation Gap To Keep Business On Point

As more baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement, the digital natives are taking over. According to numbers provided by Pew Research, millennials are the most represented generation in the workforce, and Gen Z is gaining ground.

That generational shift is bringing plenty of changes to the workplace. One of those changes is the widespread adoption of AV technology in modern business. Millennials and Gen Z expect their company to provide productivity and communication-focused tools.

AV solutions are an effective way to deliver those tools in a way that bridges, not widens, the generation gap. AV technology is designed for its usability and ease of collaboration, so it appeals to professionals of any age.

Younger Generations Want AV Technology In The Workplace

Millennials were shaped by the internet as teenagers and Gen Z couldn’t imagine a world without it. Technology that connects is something young professionals aren’t just accustomed to—for them, it’s a primary method to interact with each other.

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, professionals in the 18-29 age range were most likely to favor a hybrid workplace. Almost half of respondents said they want to blend remote and in-office time, and as companies adjust, it’s likely this number will continue to climb.

AV technology is the foundation on which hybrid teams are built. If you want younger professionals in your company and those younger professionals want a hybrid work situation, then AV solutions are a frontline answer.

Improve Recruiting With These Three AV Solutions

In recent years, AV manufacturers have shifted their focus to hybrid and remote teams. For years, the AV industry has supported other industries going through the remote work transition. If your company is considering the same transition, here are some modern AV systems worth considering:

Hybrid Video Conferencing Solutions

Video conferencing has been around for decades, so everyone from Gen Z to the baby boomers are familiar with it. Modern video conferencing solutions have perfected the art of remote communication, with crystal clear video and audio quality. They’re also easy solutions to manage, and with minimal training, anyone can launch a call within a few moments.

Popular video conferencing platforms include Zoom and Microsoft Teams, with Google Meet and Webex behind them. All are good options for remote professionals, but if your team expects to meet in the office at times, or if part of your team works in the office permanently, then a hybrid solution is needed.

Poly and Crestron, both long-time leaders in the AV space, have partnered with Zoom and Microsoft Teams to create a seamless conferencing experience for hybrid offices. Specifically, Poly and Crestron’s hardware solutions can be paired with the Zoom or Microsoft Teams platform to provide a native experience. Combine the usability of a leading software-based platform with the reliability and security of a hardware solution, and you’ve got yourself the perfect hybrid conferencing system.

Wireless Presentation Solutions

Wireless presentation solutions fill a big hole for hybrid teams. Hybrid teams do much of their work at home, on their own devices. When it’s time to share this work with members of the in-office team, the strong preference is to share it from the user’s own device.

Wireless presentation solutions are designed to make this as easy and engaging as possible. Some of the leading systems in this space are Crestron’s AirMedia, Mersive’s Solstice, Barco’s Clickshare and the Screenbeam. All four allow users to connect their own devices to the room’s displays, audio, and conferencing equipment. Connectivity is simple, too, and users are guided through it using on-screen prompts.

Once connected, users can push content to the display from their own device, effectively running the meeting using technology they’re most comfortable with. This means easier, faster, more effective presentations, for both in-house and hybrid teams.

Improved Display And Audio Technology

More than 80 percent of Gen Z professionals expect their employer to provide formal training. Training sets employees up for success, whether they’re new or experienced, in-house or remote.

Better, more engaging training is a must, and AV solutions can provide the tools your business needs to deliver it. For example, with large LED displays or an entire LED video wall, trainees will have no trouble following along with the materials.

An interactive panel can provide additional impact. With an interactive flat panel, trainers can combine visual, audio, and tactile for better engagement and to make more creative training courses. Outfit your training room with several interactive panels and you can deliver training in a collaborative, team-building format.

Don’t forget about audio, though, because it’s just as important. Clear audio is critical for training engagement and retention, but it’s not always clear when clear audio isn’t present. Better audio hardware can help with that.

When setting up audio enhancement technology, an AV integrator will assess the room’s acoustics to determine optimal placement of speakers and microphones. An integrator can also provide better signal processing technology and amplifiers to lift audio levels evenly through the space.

Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors detect when someone has entered a room and respond by readying the room’s AV technologies. They typically work by sensing motion, though some can detect heat, instead.

Occupancy sensors are a popular addition to conferencing rooms, and especially in rooms where wireless presentation systems are present. That’s because occupancy sensors can instantly prompt people through the connection process so they can get started without assistance from IT.

Close The Generation Gap With AV

When it isn’t implemented properly, technology can be a divider. In the hands of a certified AV integrator, though, it’s a uniter. AV solutions can bring people together with better collaboration tools. They can drive more interesting meetings and make people feel more involved. Nothing closes a generation gap like communication, and no technology can facilitate that better than AV.

How Is Higher Ed Utilizing AV Today

How Is Higher Ed Utilizing AV Today

How Is Higher Ed Utilizing AV Today?

Higher education is leading the way in AV. Universities around the world have recognized the impact AV solutions can have on teaching and the student/parent experience. In fact, just about any space can be improved with the presence of audiovisual systems, whether that space is used to educate, entertain or inform.

Some of the most popular AV solutions in high ed include:

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, but with these AV solutions, universities, colleges and professional schools can modernize the way they do education.

Wayfinding And Digital Signage Work Everywhere On Campus

Digital signage is popping up in universities all over the place because it is so versatile. With digital signage, you can reinforce university branding and spirit, display event and class schedules, broadcast emergency messaging, and help people find their way around.

It’s that last solution – wayfinding – that’s particularly valuable to large university campuses. Every semester is marked by confusion as students and their parents get accustomed to the campus’s layout. Wayfinding can make this transition much easier by providing visual directions for whoever needs them.

Some wayfinding solutions are as simple as a map database, but others take it further. Wayfinding software can provide 3D navigation, present scheduling information, and output a QR code that people can use to download directions to their own device. This can greatly reduce the workload on your support staff during high traffic days.

Business Colleges: Digital Ticker Displays Provide Real-time Market Information

Digital ticker displays are powered by LED technology and are a useful visual aid in business colleges. They’re also compact and can be installed in places where standard digital displays wouldn’t fit.

In most cases, you’ll see digital tickers used to display market information, such as stock and asset prices. However, they can also be used to display news headlines, weather information and other market-relevant information. They work best when paired with LED displays or an LED video wall, so they’re typically designed into a single system.

Huddle Rooms: Interactive Panels Inspire Students To Work Together Better

Huddle rooms are designed for small teams, like student groups, to collaborate and work together on a class project. Given their purpose, huddle rooms work best when outfitted with collaboration-focused technologies.

A certified AV integrator can provide those technologies. For example, interactive flat panels are an ideal huddle room addition. With an interactive flat panel, students can connect their own devices, share project content, brainstorm visually and engage with each other in more effective ways.

Best of all, interactive flat panels are easy to manage and secure, so your university can integrate an entire network of displays with minimal ongoing costs.

Flex Rooms: Create Versatile Collaborative Spaces With The Right Technology And Furniture

Universities are targeting their libraries and lounge areas for AV upgrades, and these larger rooms are perfect flex spaces.

A flex room is all about flexibility. Within reason, a flex room should be able to accommodate a group of any size for just about any purpose. Studying, small group collaboration, large group meetings, teaching, training or just plain relaxing – this should all be possible in a flex room.

To do that, universities target interactive flat panels for their flex spaces, along with configurable furniture. The interactive flat panels can be used as collaboration, presentation or teaching aids, while configurable furniture makes it easy for people to sit individually or in engaged groups.

Auditoriums: LED Video Walls And Enhanced Audio Can Engage Hundreds At Once

With their large size and acoustic properties, it can be a challenge to get the sound and visuals right in an auditorium. An AV integrator can help with that.

Large digital displays are a must in auditoriums, and LED video walls are even better. With a large enough display, even the people a football field away can see what’s going on.

Improved audio is also a priority for most auditoriums, and this can be delivered using audio enhancement hardware. Audio enhancement solutions can be as simple as mounting a gooseneck microphone to the lectern. Microphones can also be worn, mounted to the ceiling, or installed along the edge of an auditorium stage. AV integrators can also position speakers for optimal audio coverage and ensure amplifiers and control technology is in place to tie the system together.

Labs: AV Hardware Can Give Your Students A Better View Of Every Experiment

University labs, whether they’re used for experimentation or observation, are another top choice for AV augmentation.

In experimentation labs, document cameras are an easy way to get more out of every lesson. Lecturers can use the camera to show students how to use lab equipment or to point out experiment results. The camera provides a much closer look at what’s going on, and the camera’s feed can be sent to displays in the room so that every student remains engaged.

In observation labs, use of cameras can be paired with live streaming technology. This allows students, no matter where they are located (even on the other side of the world) to follow what’s going on inside observation rooms. Cameras used for this purpose can be discreetly installed so they do not interfere with lab results.

Training Rooms: Educate Your Teachers With Visual Collaboration Software

Universities are also upgrading their training rooms with AV technology, and this can improve training engagement and retention.

In university settings, training is frequently a collaborative experience, where faculty work together to improve the department’s education offerings. Collaboration-focused solutions are an ideal choice for training rooms, with solutions like the Thinkhub and Clevertouch leading the way. Training rooms are also more effective with larger digital displays and audio enhancement technology.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Bring Your High Ed AV Ambitions To Life

On university campuses, there’s an AV solution for every space. Finding the best solution for each space and integrating it properly is the real challenge, but one that certified AV integrators are trained to handle. Experienced integrators do much more than install AV solutions—they design them, source the hardware, configure the hardware, and provide long term support and maintenance for the technology. That can make your university’s ambitious AV initiatives much easier to execute.

What Is The Difference Between Zoom Client and Zoom Rooms

What Is The Difference Between Zoom Client and Zoom Rooms

Zoom Features Both Software And Hardware Conferencing Solutions

Zoom quickly rose to the top of the conferencing market in 2019, and while it’s locked in a market share battle with Microsoft, its software and hardware conferencing solutions are among the most popular worldwide.

There is more than one Zoom product available as the upstart conferencing provider has expanded beyond its soft-codec platform. In addition to the company’s respected conferencing client, Zoom also offers Zoom Rooms, which function much like standard room conferencing solutions.

What Is The Difference Between The Zoom Client And Zoom Rooms?

It can be tough keeping track of all the conferencing products out there, and it’s made more difficult with conferencing brands offering both software and hardware-based solutions. In Zoom’s case, there is some confusion regarding the two, so here’s a closer look at both:

The Zoom Conferencing Client

When most professionals refer to Zoom, they’re referring to the company’s software-based conferencing platform. Launched in 2013, Zoom’s conferencing platform took off within a few years as its usability, security and impressive feature set made it a top choice among professional teams.

The Zoom client is still massively popular and is used to host more than 200 million meetings every day. Its popularity is likely tied to its nature as a soft codec solution. As a software-based solution, Zoom meetings can be launched without any dedicated hardware. This makes for an extremely cost efficient and scalable solution that’s tough to compete with.

The Zoom Room

In the past, conferencing brands were focused on developing hardware solutions that could deliver a reliable, high quality conference call. Those legacy brands, some of which are still major players in the market, have recently developed their own software solutions to pair with their hardware offerings.

Zoom is doing that in reverse. It started with a top conferencing software and is now moving into the hardware conferencing space. Zoom calls them Zoom Rooms, and they’re designed to deliver the usability of a Zoom call with the quality of a room conferencing solution. While Zoom does sell its own hardware to build out Zoom Rooms, it has also partnered with several leading hardware manufacturers to offer vendor-specific alternatives. Some of those partners include Poly, Crestron, HP, Logitech and Lenovo.

The Zoom Client Is Good For Individuals And Remote Teams

So, the Zoom client is a software solution while Zoom Rooms are a hardware solution. That’s the primary difference. The question is, which solution will work best for your needs?

The Zoom client remains a viable option for many and is especially useful for professionals who work from home. Remote teams, freelancers and always-on-the-go executives are rarely in a shared space with other team members and are unlikely to need a room-based solution like a Zoom Room.

There are also a couple reasons why the Zoom client works particularly well for mobile types. For example:

The Zoom Client Is Built For Mobile

The Zoom client’s cross-device versatility is what makes it a compelling choice for individual professionals. With the Zoom platform, users can start a conference from anywhere and with any device. That’s a big advantage for remote workers who spend a majority of their time on the road or at home. In these settings, Zoom Rooms aren’t a feasible option, but professionals can still conference at a high level with the client.

It’s also easier for individuals to fit the Zoom client into their budget. In fact, the client can be had for free in its basic version. For many remote workers, basic is enough. Other tiers do come with a cost, but they offer features like expanded meeting sizes, recording transcripts, cloud storage and social media streaming. Those features may be beyond what an individual professional needs, but they may be essential for larger teams and enterprises. Your AV integrator can guide you in which option is best for your needs.

Zoom Rooms Combine The Zoom Experience With Leading Conferencing Hardware

Zoom Rooms look and function like the hardware codecs that once dominated the video conferencing space. As such, they are ideal for companies that rely on in-person meetings. Why not just stick with the client, though, and forego the added cost of a Zoom Room? There are a few reasons. For instance:

Zoom Rooms Combine The Zoom Experience With Superior Hardware

The difference between Zoom Client and a Zoom Room is defined by the hardware associated with the solution. Zoom Client is normally used on a laptop or desktop computer with either a built in webcam or external utilizing the audio built into the solution. With a Zoom Room the solution is based on a conference room solution that fits the needs based on the size of the room. Essential to a Zoom Room is a display, whether interactive or noninteractive, that allows for ideal visual for the viewers in the room. Depending on the size of the room, adding a camera or two and additional microphones and speakers to make sure all participants are seen and heard in a conference is important. Lastly the Zoom Room is run on the PC or conferencing solution and is locked down to only the Zoom application which makes it very easy for any user to walk in and run a meeting. Zoom features like sharing content brings in a more collaborative environment to a video conference.

Zoom Rooms Facilitate In-Person Collaboration

Zoom Rooms are for in-person and hybrid meetings, so they are ideal for in-person, team-based collaboration. With a Zoom Room, your teams can leverage advanced AV technologies like an interactive display or an immersive telepresence solution. You get the convenience of Zoom and the collaborative power of a traditional hard codec solution.

Get Started Right Out Of The Box With A Zoom Room Solution

Because Zoom Rooms can be paired with leading conferencing hardware vendors, it’s likely your organization already has some of the hardware it needs. If your company relies on a top conferencing brand like Poly or Crestron, then it’s already prepared for a Zoom Room solution.

Zoom Client Or Zoom Room, An AV Integrator Can Help

No matter how your team prefers to Zoom, an experienced AV integrator can make the difference in terms of project cost, timeline and effectiveness.

A certified integrator can help your organization determine which Zoom solution will work best for your operations, whether it’s the classic software-based client or a Zoom Room. If your hybrid or in-office teams could use a room-based solution like a Zoom Room, your AV integrator can help determine which option makes sense for your operations. This will enable your organization to attain a market-leading conferencing solution that provides instant and long-term value.