AV experts like integrators can make even the most complex AV project manageable, and they should be trusted to handle any AV initiative. Businesses, schools, the military and government facilities are all adopting AV solutions at a rapid pace, and the demand for knowledgeable AV experts is at an all-time high.
Modern AV solutions involve much more than just installing equipment. These solutions often include several technologies, including software, working in concert to solve the client’s needs. Better branding, better communication, cost reduction, improved training – these are some of the reasons why companies and schools consider AV solutions. No matter the client’s goals, an experienced integrator has worked with similar clients before, and they know how to select, install and configure technology to meet those goals.
What solutions do AV experts offer?
AV experts should be thought of as solutions providers. In this context, an AV solution means the whole project, start to finish. Integrators oversee the solution from the first consultation and site survey, to eventual component or device replacement when it’s time for an upgrade. This is what clients can expect from their AV integration partner:
1. A lot of detailed planning – AV solutions can be incredibly complex, involving dozens of pieces of hardware, the infrastructure to mount and connect that hardware, software, and plenty of controls. As such, an integrator will first plan out and diagram the solution before any work is done to the building. To arrive at this plan, the integrator will first consult with the client to determine their exact needs and goals with the technology. The integrator will also survey the site to check for existing AV technology, detail the building’s layout and construction, and determine if any infrastructure additions are required to place the new equipment.
2. Equipment mounting and configuration – Once the integrator has a comprehensive picture of the job, they will select the most cost-effective technology for their client and handle the installation. Integrators must be adaptable during this stage of the process, as quirks in the building’s construction may force the integrator to come up with a creative solution. This is often the case, for instance, when new AV equipment needs to be concealed from view.
Following installation, an integrator will also set the equipment up, creating multiple user profiles if needed. The idea is to produce a turnkey solution for the client, in that the technology works as intended from day one, and without the client having to tinker with the equipment.
3. Detailed training – An AV solution is only effective if it is embraced by employees or teachers. Integrators also know that the technology must be accepted immediately if it is going to make a long term impact. Training is the fastest and most reliable means of getting people comfortable with the technology. An integrator can provide training to anyone who will utilize the equipment, and tailor this training to the user’s skill level. Many integrators have dedicated training spaces to enhance their capabilities, as well.
4. Long term support – Like any technology, AV equipment needs occasional maintenance to function optimally. Because AV technology is usually designed to facilitate presentations, conferences or teaching, it’s normal for many people to interact with the equipment every day. This means AV equipment is always at risk of being tampered with, damaged or even accidentally reconfigured.
An integrator can help control these issues and monitor the system’s performance to ensure it is always operating at its peak. It’s standard for an integrator to offer detailed maintenance plans that go in effect following the system’s installation. A maintenance plan will provide peace of mind and a safety net in case the system experiences any issues.
With so much hinging on the integrator’s abilities, companies and schools should only consider a reputable integrator.
What a Reputable AV Integrator Looks Like
AV experts are expected to demonstrate keen technical skills and vast knowledge of various technologies. That should be the minimum of what a client should expect from their integrator, though. In addition to technical aptitude, this is what an AV integrator should offer:
1. A strong focus on employee training – There are numerous opportunities for AV technicians to improve their skills through industry training. The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, or AVIXA, is the best known training organization, and is generally considered the standard for AV technician training. AVIXA training is demanding and constantly updated, so it always provides relevant training to students.
Reputable integrators consider AVIXA training worthwhile, and AV firms can attain recognition if a large number of their employees have completed Certified Technology Specialist, or CTS, training. AV experts that have obtained this recognition are the class of the industry, and represent your best option in integrators.
2. Excellent communication from the outset – AV experts work with communication technologies every day, so they know what good communication looks like. It’s important that an integrator demonstrate this from the beginning, as the project’s success relies on the integrator and client understanding each other every step of the way. Unforeseen challenges often come up during an AV project, and it will take tight communication between integrator and client to work through those challenges efficiently.
3. A history of client-focused service – The best indicator of future performance is past performance, and this is also true of AV experts. Experience is a must in a quality integrator, but there should also be a long line of satisfied clients that you can contact, and testimonials you can verify.
4. A desire to function like a partner – AV solutions are constantly evolving, and new technologies are introduced to the market all the time. Also, even the best designed AV solutions need to be maintained to ensure their continued performance. On both counts, partnering with a reputable AV expert is the best approach, and any integrator you choose should be willing to work as a long-term partner.
AV solutions may be complex, but finding the right AV expert doesn’t have to be. There’s no secret to it – if an integrator has proven their worth to previous clients, staffs trained professionals, communicates effectively and can add value to every part of the integration process, that’s who should head your project.