I wrote a blog back in September of last year, con·ver·gence, which began this way:
The premise of AV and IT convergence is simple, two separate realms of technology come together as a single entity to expand the industry’s capabilities to satisfy full-scale technology needs of the end user. In this day and age the industry overseers’ message is resounding – don’t focus on bringing one without the other anymore. Leave the boxes behind and bring something more relevant to today’s technology needs to the table.
And ended this way:
Those who deliver the coherent and progressive message of change are the true leaders, the ones who will bring the industry strong and forward to the new renaissance of convergence…
Dave Labuskes, executive director and CEO of InfoComm International has been very outspoken about the need for the AV industry to continue to learn as well as leverage skills in IT and especially networking to go along with their AV know-how. In a conversation on a recent industry podcast show I had been on (where he was at the InfoComm Connections event), I asked Dave about his thoughts concerning certain IT topics (referring to a video interview I had done with a well-known Cisco and InfoComm board executive) and IT in general as applies to the AV industry right now. His comments:
“We are well past the time where we should be talking about convergence and AV/IT and acknowledge the fact that AV is a specialty that lives within the information technology and IT communications community…. AV is a specialty that focuses on people and the experience, so you can have the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything, AV is still about bringing the message to people and that requires specialized knowledge and specialized expertise.”
Thus in consideration it appears that AV no longer simply merges with IT, in certain circumstances it resides within information technology where knowledge in certain realms of IT becomes highly beneficial to a company’s solutions and even organizational approach. Think about UCC, digital signage, presentation technology, control systems and more where IT, networks, BYOD and more now become relative discussion. I have met with a few integration companies which lead with IT, e.g. data center and structured cabling. Dave Labuskes happens to be a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), a credential awarded to those Information and communications technology (ICT) industry professionals. Those awarded with the RCDD designation have demonstrated their knowledge in the design, implementation, integration and project management of telecommunications and data communications technology and related infrastructure. In fact, I believe AV integrators should look into Bicsi membership and you can see more information on RCDD and more at Bicsi’s website.
I recently met with a long-time IT-based company which a few years back added AV capabilities. This seems to be a trend over the last several years for IT companies to add AV solutions and services to their portfolio which has unfortunately been to the chagrin of some AV integrators. Why? I’ll leave that one to those who understand to answer.
In fact in terms of converged technologies, one such company that I recently met with listed Voice over IP (VoIP) under that category. They did however also include video teleconferencing under the category as well. Of course you know that video conferencing solutions are for the most part cloud and VM-based to go along with the available hardware from certain manufacturers, and if you consider that AV and IT have already “converged,” the perspective at this point may more likely be AV within IT and no longer AV/IT.
Does this mean that all AV integrators need to become IT/AV (for lack of a better term)? Not necessarily but there are those who have already seen results from adding one or the other technology set to their solutions offerings and business portfolio. I have also talked to those who seem to be delivering a message of (if I read between the lines properly) “Our sales people don’t understand the technology therefore we’re not comfortable going in that direction” – and I believe that is more in terms of AV integrators adding in IT-based solutions as in non-hardware (cloud, VM) UCC, mobility (BYOD for those that do implement it in their organizational infrastructure). It’s really all about actual training and going beyond the standard lunch n’ learn. And as Chuck Espinoza alluded to in my previous blog, training in CTS (for the most part CTS-I and CTS-D) also becomes paramount where it applies to the forward progress of an organization in terms of industry integration standards, and of course for the benefit of the end user as well.
In terms of a pathway to understanding converged technologies, InfoComm offers an excellent course in Networking Technology Online with details as follows (notice attention to network security as well):
- Learn the basics of networking from an AV perspective
- Review how to discuss AV network requirements with your IT stakeholders
- Compare and contrast the most common network-based AV transmission protocols
- Interpret IP addresses and subnets
- Identify network security threats and countermeasures
- Use common network diagnostic tools and perform basic network troubleshooting
At InfoComm 2015 there will be available courses in IT to go along with others in AV, here is a description of one:
New! IPv6 Network Traffic and Multicasting Analysis
1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Paul Zielie, CTS-D, AMX
IPv6 is coming — and bringing changes to address structures, traffic types and network architectures. Get ready with this advanced, fast-paced lab session. This is only for professionals conversant in the OSI Model; IPv4 addressing, network traffic analysis and multitasking; subnets, broadcast traffic and VLANs.
Of course RUs are very important in terms of CTS, however I believe the course itself will be highly beneficial to those organizations and employees (or contractors) who are looking to gain advanced knowledge in IT.
In conclusion, the industry can now rest assured that a “convergence” has certainly taken place and the whole convergence conversation can likely be put to rest, or at least toned down considerably. After all is said and done, where you consider those who deliver the coherent and progressive message of change, this message has certainly come from the top to go along with other industry influencers.