“11 Ways the Integration Business Will Change This Decade” is a wide-ranging analysis by NSCA board members of the future of integration, originally published in the special Pivot to Profit+ section of the Q3 2021 edition of our quarterly trade journal, Integrate. This column discusses how—and why—integrators need to offer managed services to become more like IT partners.
In a look forward to 2031, customers will expect integrators to conduct business differently and offer managed services—much like their IT partners in an ITIL/ITSM world.
We’ve seen it coming. It’s been unfolding for years. And now, especially as we emerge from a global pandemic, the expectations of CIOs are crystal clear: They want the industry to behave like IT in an ITIL/ITSM world (and offer managed services).
As return-to-workplace initiatives get underway and new demands are placed on meeting room technology for collaboration and productivity, IT leaders know the future success of business operations depends on the technology employees use to work together. These systems must work 24/7 and must be intuitive and seamless, no matter how many meeting rooms and locations an organization has.
In the past, CIOs often viewed AV systems and management as a second cousin in the larger IT family. Now, they’re telling directors and managers to do whatever is necessary to make AV systems function like any other IT device. They must be easy to integrate and—more importantly—easy to manage remotely.
The Managed Services Model for AV
With a full suite of managed services designed for AV that also meet IT expectations, CIOs will feel that their AV systems questions are answered. The problems that consumed IT teams yesterday—troubleshooting meeting room technology, upgrading systems, and training employees—become easily resolved thanks to managed services that include components for AV like:
- 24/7 AV/UC help desk with “service contracts”
- Onsite staffing support
- Remote monitoring software
- Advocate services
- Concierge meeting services
A full-time, always-on AV/UC help desk gives CIOs a new level of comfort. They can rest easy knowing that, when an AV issue happens, it will be covered by an extended warranty and a documented service level agreement (SLA) based on response times. This offer is staffed with help desk support technicians who can escalate a ticket through a Tier 1, 2, and 3 model. Service tickets can be opened or closed using a common software platform (i.e. Servicenow). Like most IT help desks, the AV/UC help desk resolves two-thirds of incidents via chat, text, email, or live telephone conversation. If an issue requires more attention, then it can be elevated to a truck roll for repair and/or replacement of the AV component.
Onsite staffing support is another critical component of a complete managed services portfolio. Most organizations don’t have the internal talent to support AV and UC systems. Providing onsite staff allows the CIO and IT team to focus on core IT responsibilities.
Providing monitoring of cloud-based videoconferencing systems is a valuable feature-add to any managed services offering. A remote monitoring software platform delivers 24/7 eyes on the glass of all AV and UC systems, providing proactive alerts to remedy issues before any meeting. This managed services offering can function in tandem with the 24/7 AV/UC help desk or sit onsite at the customer location. In addition to the day-to-day alerts that keep AV systems up and running, analytics can provide the CIO with valuable information to adjust meeting room strategy as needed.
Advocate services support the CIO in a variety of ways as well. Through a well-designed advocate services offering, software and firmware upgrades can be coordinated and pushed across an enterprise, streamlining the process and saving valuable time. Many organizations can also use advocate services to assist with the delivery of AV training modules so that employees gain skills needed to operate systems without having to call for help.
Lastly, customized concierge meeting services enable a dedicated, highly skilled AV technician to launch a remote video call on behalf of the end user. Such services are helpful—specifically for C-level meetings when the technology must work the first time. Concierge meeting services can be augmented with an onsite staff member who is on call in or near the scheduled meeting, depending on security clearance.
Through a clearly defined set of managed services specific to AV that function seamlessly in an IT world, the systems that drive collaboration and productivity will no longer be the second cousin. AV will be a critical component of the overall IT ecosystem.
Donald Mastro is vice president of sales for AVI Systems and an NSCA board member.