By Corey Moss

Sure that might seem like a bit of a broad statement – however let’s consider the crossover, the merge, the convergence. AV and IT (or AV/IT – you choose) in my estimation is finally a real conversation, that after years of “is it, could it be, will it ever?” I know, as I was in commercial integration sales almost hearing it daily in the industry, and even talking with clients about the perspective which I would give a thumbs down too, the no, not now or maybe ever.

However, in 2018 as stated it is a real conversation, more than ever before. Though, it is hardly the be all end all. IoT had been a fully entrenched discussion in the industry over the last few years, and it has now become fringe again in pro AV. Those on the commercial side who were espousing the virtues of IoT seem to be fairly quiet now. An approach from Crestron certainly is one, however it seems that the discussion has gone more to the residential/smart home side, as so may IoT conversations are these days. Cisco was another, and maybe there is something there – however at present I see no evidence in the AV industry. I actually wrote an article on another publication in 2016 entitled “Can AV and IoT Be the New Convergence?” The answer at this moment, probably not. HARMAN though is fully entrenched in the “connected” conversation, however more to the connected car and industrial than in AV, where this is really just speakers. These are all players from the InfoComm 2015 keynote (Samsung was the other).

I did write about how HARMAN partnered IoT and cognitive computing technology with IBM in November, 2016 – I’m not sure where that is today. I’d certainly like to hear from HARMAN (or IBM) if there have been further developments here. I did notice this HARMAN and IBM Watson Internet of Things Introduce Cognitive Rooms that Bring Connected Experiences to the Consumer (an IBM press release), and where it states consumer it points to Watson delivering new levels of experience and simplicity to hotels, hospitals, conference rooms and other key locations.

There it is – experience. But is that enough to sell this to the commercial business world -and-  attract integrators to get on board and all in with IoT now?

A look at other technology concepts – AR is nascent in terms of the industry. AI, we may not be close as other industries are, but it deserves a real look for the future. Drones? The true interest as I see on the AV side now is in professionally operated light shows (and potentially in digital signage) – as evidenced here. Otherwise, we’re really talking enthusiasts and photo/video journalists, as there are still challenges concerning FAA rules and regulations. There was this article at InfoComm time in 2015 IoT, drones and the cloud takes InfoComm to new levels – and now I say for each no, no – and not yet.

VR? That has presented major discussion points of late at the trade shows, however does that resemble more of a “shiny penny” than an actual strategic industry direction for the integrators? Is this considered something tangible for integrators across the world to bring to customers for the benefit of both?

Maybe in some parts of the world, but I’d hazard a guess that the answer is not yet, and maybe even no for a good many.

I know of the strategic “VR-ish” solution VIRTULARIUM brought to InfoComm 2017, a combined manufacturer partnered solution created, designed (by Creative Technologist Jon 9 and others) and built with a purpose. Look at the Occulus headset crowd though, and it’s just not ready for AV prime time – the integrators won’t touch it. And if they do en masse, I’d really like to see that – maybe a followup one day.

And honestly, in the end, many are still getting used to the software futures to replace hardware.

It’s not to say that we are not heading in any or all of these directions, the issue here is focus, as it seems that the industry sees another new tech concept each year and says “how about that?” The AV over IP conversation gets stronger as we go (in fact there was a “challenge” at ISE that many know of now). The SDVoE Alliance is bringing their A-game and adding Alliance members as they go. The challenge here is great, and growing – in highly beneficial ways for the integrators.

Unified communications and collaboration bring endless possibilities. The software discussion grows exponentially.  Digital signage is picking up at an accelerated technology pace, possibly greater than any realm of AV technology. Cloud is present, but I believe it’s not a focused industry conversation yet as it is in IT and UC. This is where the AV industry can look for the cloud technologies though – and not try to make it another realm in the industry per se, at least not right now.

Thus, focus. ISE and InfoComm, the two major trade shows as we know should in essence give a greater focus to the technologies that will be beneficial to the integration market and their clients now – and not the what-can-be that could be an investment in possibilities rather than present scenarios – that is if integrators would even want to invest their time and resources in “futures.”

For long-time industry standard bearers – they have owned the market and continue to, their innovative solutions year after year keep them in the market top spots. Newer innovation players have carved paths as well, and are also providing great benefits for the integrators. In terms of unified communications and collaboration, if one was to add Enterprise Connect in March to their annual trade show itinerary, they would see the true world of UC&C laid right out in front of them way before InfoComm time – and a good many of them don’t go to the show in June.  As for digital signage, of course the Digital Signage Expo is the required stop for those already involved or even interested in the market. This will be my first trip to the show, one I’m truly looking forward to as I will first hand see what I consider one of the biggest and most innovative growth spaces in the tech market.

If one stops to consider the full scenario, they’ll see that the convergence is not about two merging technology realms, or even three. AV is established, IT is established – the two technology realms just continue to grow and innovate exponentially. There is no reason to look at them as competing markets, they are truly complimentary.

What is to be focused on though are those tech markets that are most beneficial to the integrators, the consultants, all that are involved in engaging with the client and providing that ultimate integrated experience.

There’s your convergence. It’s here.


Header image: CC0 Creative Commons

Me at Barco

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, The Collaboration Factor and Convergent Tech Talk. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn