Asset Management is Key in AV-IT Convergence

Crestron 1

So thinks Crestron, as explained by Dan Jackson at the recent Sapphire Marketing event in New York. The days of mix and match with best-in-class AV boxes that are different for every room in a facility are over. The IT managers are in charge and they want much better management and control of their new AV domains.

Jackson noted that IT technology is now 40 years old and that everywhere it has competed, it has won. The same is true and will happen to AV.

He acknowledged that many of the best AV solutions in the past have been built by designers or integrators that use the best in class audio, switching, projection, control and other pieces of the solution to create state of the art AV rooms. That may have been fine when you had a dedicated staff to maintain and manage these rooms, but as the IT departments take on this responsibility, that proposition is becoming increasingly untenable.

“The AV-IT convergence is much more than simply running audio and video over CAT cable. The IT guys look at these ‘best in class’ rooms as a nightmare”, stated Jackson. “What happens when the ‘guy’ who knows that room is out or leaves the company? And, much of this gear is not on a network, has different interfaces if they are, and cannot be very easily managed from a central or remote location”.

IT managers are used to having all equipment fully monitored and configurable across the network – from anywhere. They want the same thing for their AV solutions. “Right now, it is very hard to manage the occupancy of a group of meeting rooms in the best of class scenario,” said Jackson, “with a person literally running around with a clipboard to see if a room is occupied.”

AV solutions still have to deliver their basic requirement of simple to use audio and video for collaboration or presentation, but additional needs are being layered on top. Is the solution reliable, sustainable and repeatable? How does it create efficiencies? How does it improve the user’s ability to do business? Are these the right investments?

The managed IT mentality is coming to AV. Would you buy an unmanaged Ethernet switch, he asked, so why would you buy unmanaged AV equipment? AV is now a mission critical function in many companies.

Jackson made the argument that single vendor solutions are better at meeting these needs as there is one contact to address all of the design, installation, maintenance and reliability issues. That is not surprising as Crestron wants to be that supplier. He said that the best in class approach may offer some cost savings, but that will come back to bite you in the long run with all of the other issues of trying to monitor, maintain and upgrade.

He pointed to a large University job Crestron did which pitted their single vendor solution vs. a best of class solution. Crestron won the job based partly on the reduced number of terminations and interconnection (failure points) and vendors (management and maintenance issue).

The biggest bang for the buck with a managed AV solution is not the prestige rooms as one might think, but in the multitude of small “huddle rooms” were small group collaboration takes place.

Crestron offers an IT-centric solution it calls .AV Framework that can allow deployment of sophisticated AV solutions without writing code or software. This is now starting to move into the ProAV space and is based upon a simpler platform the company pioneered for the home install market, called Pyng. Fusion is its management software that ties all the pieces together into a single cohesive unit.