Audio and visual specialists, also termed integrators, are AV experts in terms of technology, training and solutions. During any given project, an AV integrator may do the following:
- Develop an AV solution in response to a noted problem or deficiency.
- Design an AV system, determining where equipment and cables will be placed.
- Select the optimal mix of hardware and software to create a comprehensive, efficient solution.
- Install, configure and network all AV hardware and software.
- Program any control technology and verify the system works as intended.
- Develop training materials for the organization’s users, designing learning materials with the audience in mind.
- Observe how the system is utilized once training is complete, and verify that it is being used appropriately.
- Provide long term maintenance and service options to clients, effectively acting as the organization’s AV technology partner.
AV integrators do a lot for every AV project and can work in any professional, commercial or educational setting, whether there is an existing structure or not. An integrator can be a part of the construction team and bringing in audio visual specialists during the build phase will ensure a perfectly seamless installation.
What should companies look for in audio visual specialists?
There are a lot of AV installers, but only a handful of skilled AV integrators in any city. Here’s what to look for to ensure you hire a true expert:
1. Long range thinking – AV integrators don’t think in terms of hardware only, and they consider the project well past the installation stage. In most cases, a successful installation is only the beginning, because there are typically adjustments to make and new information to work with. You want an AV expert that’s going to be around to make those adjustments and respond to any changes.
For example, after witnessing how effective an AV solution is, other departments may want to train themselves on it. If you have a reputable AV integrator on hand, additional training is easy to organize. Without an integrator, you’re on your own. There are many situations that could end this way without an integrator.
Long range thinking is also relevant if an organization wants to keep their AV system up to date. AV integrators that provide ongoing maintenance may also help with tech refreshes and upgrades as needed, so the benefit of having a dedicated AV partner can be extended across several AV solutions.
2. Extensive planning – Before any equipment is selected or installed, there’s AV system planning to do. There is an industry-standard planning process that integrators are expected to follow, starting with a needs analysis. During this meeting, the integrator will consult with the organization’s decision makers in order to determine what the organization’s needs are, and how AV technology can solve those needs.
Once the needs analysis is complete, a reputable integrator will also provide a site survey. During a site survey, the integrator looks for any potential obstacles, whether there is existing AV infrastructure and how to efficiently place all technology. Site surveys prepare the integrator well in advance, so an accurate timeline and budget can be set in stone.
3. Relevant experience – It’s true that an experienced integrator tends to be a skilled integrator, but you’ll still want one that has experience with your industry. Relevant experience means your integrator has worked with similar organizations and has achieved success in doing so.
At their heart, AV solutions are about improving communications, and every industry has its own way of communicating. Schools and universities, for example, use AV technologies to communicate in different ways. A car dealership and a multinational oil & gas corporation are also going to be quite different in how they reinforce their brands.
An AV integrator may have plenty of experience with one type of client, but if they haven’t worked in your organization’s industry, they will may run into unforeseen obstacles.
4. A certified crew – AV integration is a complex process—one that requires certified installers and designers to execute properly. That means you’ll want an integrator who prioritizes certification among its team members, and ideally through a respected certifying organization like the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). There’s two reasons for that. During certification, technicians learn about a variety of technologies and techniques that ensure better performance.
Also, if an integrator is focused on certification that means it is committed to the industry, and to providing the best AV solutions it can. It’s always best to have an integrator that cares about its performance.
Audio and visual specialists help organizations solve their needs with AV solutions. Reputable integrators can also provide long term assistance with AV service and maintenance. In short, an integrator should never seem like an equipment vendor. They should present themselves as an enthusiastic technology partner, one who has delivered effective solutions for organizations like yours.