Big Data, Smart AV

brave-new-world-0810By Midori Connolly

Right now, there isn’t much bigger than big data. Big data, data mining and business intelligence (BI) are the hottest terms around, and our industry is poised to capitalize on this trend.

In case you’re still a little unsure about these terms, here is my best explanation of the relationship between these terms, beginning with data. Data is just what it sounds like… raw numbers, facts or text that are captured and stored in some type of repository (aka a database). Then, by the process of data mining (through some type of analytical technology or human review), these numbers are organized into patterns and outcomes that can be referred to as information. Finally, by applying historical analysis and forecasting models, we generate knowledge, or intelligence, that will improve business results.

One of my all-time favorite stories of how big data and BI achieves results is the story of how a grocery chain identified the relationship between diapers and beer. They gathered data on the behavior of their male shoppers and organized this data into patterns of goods purchased, and on what days. Then, they were able to identify a relationship between their diaper and beer purchases on Thursdays and Saturdays. With this intel, they were able to increase revenue by selling those products at full price on those particular days, and improving product placement between the two (would love to hear the story of how they got the diapers closer to the beer!).

OK, so here we are halfway through this Green AV column and you haven’t heard a word about sustainability or AV… well, here goes. I see two ways that we, as AV professionals, can participate in the big data trend — mostly as it relates to what I’ve been calling Smart AV. As I see it, Smart AV is an audiovisual system that is designed to produce an improved quality of experience for the user, influences better business results and will improve the impact on the environment.

And, if we’re talking Smart AV, then we must discuss intelligent buildings. How do they become intelligent? By collecting data about all of the factors in an environment, performing analysis of this data and ultimately creating predictive technologies that will anticipate the needs and behaviors of the inhabitants. And this absolutely includes data to make your building greener (mostly in terms of energy efficiency), which we should easily be able to provide! As a matter of fact, you might just want to check out the impressive Green Building Council database on building efficiency at and see where we fit.

You know how the pro AV market was long intimidated by the encroachment of IT on our industry? Well, before long, with the data and information we can gather and supply with our networked systems, we may just see those IT peeps holding roundtable discussion groups at their annual conferences about the best ways to manage (or, better yet, cooperate with) the expansion of the AV market into their traditional territory.

midori-connolly-0810Midori Connolly is the founder of AVGirl Productions in California. She wrote the first-ever set of Sustainable Staging best practices after discovering none existed. She was the co-chair of the AV committee for the ASTM Standard for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings and is a speaker, writer and consultant for green practices in live events and meeting planning. Reach her at