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How is convergence of control impacting designers, clients and culture?

By Craig Janssen

The Convergence of Control

In the past few years, IP-based technologies have made everything controllable over networks blurring the lines between technologies. What were once distinctly separate disciplines can now be operated on a single converged network. The benefits to clients are cost savings in infrastructure and energy, along with better capacity to control systems—and since convergence is beneficial to clients, this trend is a rapid one.

 

How convergence of control is impacting designers…

AEC professionals know that the CSI Specifications are how buildings get built. They are laid out in the way that contractors have historically purchased labor and materials so there are silos for audio, video, lighting, etc. The challenge is that the benefits to clients are in the interconnection of the technologies. A new skillset is arising where traditional AVL consultants now have very strong network skillsets. Someone has to shepherd the interconnectedness. (Note that all new major sports facilities are on a converged network with all technologies running on the same backbone.) RFPs with highly segmented technology disciplines are going away.

 

How convergence of control is impacting clients…

For many of our clients, there are significant operational changes. Large venues once had their operations teams in silos but more and more all is falling under IT with the addition of the role of CTO (Chief Technology Officer). For the first time, technology is part of the C-suite which has dynamically changed the conversation of our clients.

I serve on the board of directors for InfoComm with Gary Hall who says “EA (Enterprise Architecture) is the glue between people, process, data and things.” The term EA is revelatory. It means that clients are beginning to apply principles from the architect’s world—design thinking—to their business case—even when there is not a building involved. I believe this is an opportunity for new business models for the architects with whom we serve.

 

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has changed the culture …

The BYOD trend means that it isn’t just the technology that is changing. The culture of the people who use the technology has changed. Assistive listening is now an app. Conference rooms are now run via iPad. Did you know that with the right infrastructure you can use an iPhone as a microphone on the main loudspeaker system? There is no separation of technologies when everything is an app. BYOD is increasingly putting control in the users hands.
Architects, engineers and builders can show leadership in helping to facilitate these conversations with their clients and in partnering with skilled technology designers—like our team—where needed. It is inevitable. The CSI spec will catch up.

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