Recently there has been a lot of talk about The Internet of Things / Everything and how it is affecting our industry, the buildings we build and the technology that we are designing into them.
Most of these discussions center on a few common themes, including the rapid increase in connected devices (now estimated at roughly 18 billion), how AV systems are now sharing a common facility network for control and signal transport and the importance of AV designers and installers to be fluent in network protocols and technology. Certainly this is impacting our designs and expanding the way we interact (and expect to interact) with technology, but it is useful to look past the surface and discuss some areas that may not be as obvious.
With the number of devices now living on a common network we have the potential to access big data – the collective data store these devices offer. So how is the AV industry utilizing the data that it is or can gather? Like most industries we aren’t fully leveraging this yet, but some forward thinking manufacturers, contractors, and consultants are starting to see the possibilities. Consider the amount of data available to a corporation that is using an asset management system as part of a complete building management program. These software platforms are gathering data on room, resource, and energy usage. If properly sorted and analyzed this information can be a valuable tool to any company looking at maximize facility and resource utilization, offering insight into how frequently rooms are being used, by how many people, and what technologies are the employees actually using? At a corporate level this information can have a significant impact on the bottom line since it offers real insight into space planning and technology purchases.
Leveraging this requires someone with a technical background to develop a business case for its deployment and sell this to C-Suite and Executive level personnel. The rise of the number of companies with a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) emphasizes how companies view the importance of AV and IT resources to their bottom line. What was once a luxury, AV systems are now a required component that is embedded into the workflow of any modern corporation. Companies that are installing millions of dollars of AV equipment need to have a solid plan for its implementation, utilization, maintenance, and eventual replacement. While these discussions are commonplace in other industries, they are a recent addition to most in the AV industry and offer an opportunity for our industry to learn from the IT world.
Rex Miller explores the relationship between engagement, productivity, and transformative thinking in building utilization and design in his recent book ‘Change Your Space, Change Your Culture’. He notes surveys from CoreNet and IFMA that indicate most companies effectively use less than 50% of their space and have an engagement level of less than 30%. The AV industry has an opportunity to become a leading voice in the convergence of technologies if we continue to develop the hardware, software, and business leadership skills to engage our clients on a level where we offer more than just a technical solution to their immediate problem, but instead help develop a business plan for increasing collaboration and employee engagement by developing truly smart buildings.