It's fairly safe to say that the convergence and collaboration between IT and pro AV is a trend driving strategic planning across a wide range of marketing verticals?and it's here to stay.
Value-added resellers (VARs) are undoubtedly fielding a dizzying array of questions from customers about how to marry the two technologies together.
Questions will run the gamut between technologically savvy customers who know the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 to customers who aren't sure if they need a standard HD or 4K resolution display panel.
As pro AV systems become more complex and essential to the operation of government, institutions, and corporations, the need for integrated solutions will grow to a projected $116 billion global industry by 2016.
VARs are particularly well-positioned to ensure their customers are receiving technological solutions designed and integrated to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.
Here are a few key things to consider when assessing your client's pro AV/network integration needs:
Start with pro AV best practices
Familiarize yourself with pro AV best practices, no matter how small or large your client's project. Don't be afraid to ask your customers if they've formulated an AV design plan that goes from needs analysis to design and verification phases. Start by asking your client what their end goals are and then help them fill in the missing pieces. It's best for VARs to get in on a project during the design phase in order to analyze their client's individual needs and offer a comprehensive solution.
Assess IT backbone
Try to gain an understanding of your client's IT infrastructure, including its strengths and weaknesses and how they plan to use it to drive pro AV solutions going forward. Will the network be monitored on-site or remotely? Are servers located locally or remotely?
Get involved with your client's project from inception, if possible, whether they're implementing a new network, upgrading an existing one, or simply adding an application. It's during the design phase that VARs are best positioned to analyze clients' individual needs and design a personalized comprehensive solution.
Partner with client's IT manager/team, if possible
Make an effort to partner with your client's IT team, if possible. They are in the best position to guide VARs on what pro AV hardware will work best with current or future networks. They can also be very helpful in answering technical questions that might be outside the VARs’ realm of expertise.
Think toward the future
Suggest expandable pro AV hardware that is future-proof and grows along with customer requirements and their budgets. This means specifying hardware that is the most current technological offering but upgradable in the future. PCs, for example, are often designed in this manner.
Don't shy away from collaboration
Again, VARs are ideally positioned to recommend multiple pro AV vendors to assist with installations and higher-level maintenance issues. Don't shy away from diversification. It will pay dividends in the end, because a client will remember on whom to rely for future projects.
Avoid overthinking the project
Try emphasizing simplicity, ubiquity, and real-time support in technology solutions. The best and most versatile pro AV systems are those that are powerful enough for the advanced user, yet easy to use for the technically challenged?and fully supported for reliability. Remember that the best pro AV/IT integration projects will provide customers with real results and operate almost invisibly in the background.
Have your customers been asking about IT and pro AV integration lately?