From the halls of tradeshows to the pages of industry magazines, the biggest “emerging technology trend” is AV over IP—with good reason. AV over IP is changing the way we design, integrate, and manage AV systems. That’s just part of the story, though.
For me, the most influential emerging technology trend isn’t technology at all—it’s an emerging experience. In 2019, we have a new way of thinking about experience, both the installation experience and the user experience (UX). Experience is the new X factor. It’s the force unifying many technological advancements and creating new opportunities—and challenges—for the professional AV channel.
New Business Drivers
The digital-native generation knows technology inside and out. They know how to connect a phone to a Bluetooth speaker or an Apple TV. It’s a new landscape of always-on connectivity that has real consequences for traditional AV firms.
Best Practice: Know Your Customer
In the new era of experience, it’s absolutely essential to identify your customer. You’ve got to be keenly aware of who your customer is, their workflow, and how AV can support business outcomes. Talk to them. Speak their language. Meet your customers’ customers and learn their needs, too.
If necessary, bring new people onto your team who are like-minded or can relate. Of course, a room full of programmers might love to put in a giant, complicated matrix and a touch screen. But if that isn’t what your client needs or wants, you might be doing them a disservice and jeopardizing a long-term relationship.
Beyond the Box
While a traditional approach might be about selling a box, think about what training or organizational changes may help sell an experience first—then a device or system and then monitoring.
For example, if your client is a hotel chain, do they have an onsite AV person or can you offer them remote monitoring so no one is required to be there all the time? This paradigm shift is all about understanding your customers and their cultures, as well as their budgets. Then offer them an experience that meets their needs. Do you have a sales lead who’s used to selling hardware? Now they have to figure out how to sell something that isn’t tangible. This is where the exciting opportunities and learning curves live.
Rethink & Repackage Services
AV as a Service, Software as a Service, Technology as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, extended contracts, and monitoring—these are key models that will become more relevant in AV as we move into IT-style environments. They are also part of the experience evolution. IT teams have been using SaaS for years; they know the model. But, if you try to call one of the big vendors for tech support, good luck.
Our job should be to offer the same streamlined approach and functionality with far better service at every stage. As AV becomes more software-driven, Kramer is paving the way in regard to AV functionality. Kramer Platforms offer multiple software-licensed functionalities on single, easy-to-install hardware platforms.
Kramer makes IT-friendly AV products and solutions to fit within a more open, more interoperable, and less siloed ecosystem. Our VIA platform offers wireless presentation and collaboration, serves as a control processor, does digital signage, works with intuitive monitoring software, and more. Our management platform enables you to deploy the units easily, manage them, and update them instantly. We want to take the legwork out of the process for integrators.
We also want to take it a step further and ensure that our channel and end-users have the best experiences—consistently—at every touch point in an organization. How does a company’s management platform monitor all devices—even those from another manufacturer?
Kramer is working to get there. We’re thinking more cohesively about management, including network switches, and monitoring all devices from a common platform. This is the next great AV challenge—to deliver exceptional experiences. We couldn’t be more excited about it!
Chris Kopin, ISF/C, is the vice president of technology development at Kramer Electronics US, a member of NSCA’s Emerging Technologies Committee. For more information, visit www.kramerav.com/us.