By David Danto
The InfoComm 2014 conference — the world’s largest communications expo — has come to a close — and after this year’s jaunt to Las Vegas, the world will never be the same.
Over the next few days I and countless others will be writing blogs, reviews and wrap-ups describing the details of what took place here. Amidst all of the displays and projectors, codecs and cameras and microphones and processors one point stands out. What we saw this year was an end-user revolution — and I’m as giddy about it as Professor Henry Higgins was when his Fair Lady finally figured out how to properly speak.
Our industry’s approach to conference rooms and collaboration sadly hadn’t changed in 30 years. We built custom, overcomplicated, expensive rooms and blamed end-users for not understanding them when they failed. We filled everyone’s heads with “speeds and feeds” using technobabble and buzzwords — H.264/H.265, 4K, HDMI, Pixel Density, ANSI Lumens, SIP, HD, and on and on. Only the bravest and brightest technologists would stay connected with this messaging and regrettably would typically have the same difficulties with passing it along. The result being that these vital technologies were rarely adopted or heavily utilized by their user base.
This year though we’ve most definitely turned a corner. At the Unified Communications Solution Summit — co-presented by InfoComm and The IMCCA — the attendees shot from last year’s mid-300s to over 1300 this week. Approximately 85 percent of them were serious end user representatives of their organizations wanting to learn how we could improve the collaboration experience. In those sessions and on the exhibit floor almost no one was talking about those dreaded speeds and feeds. It was all about the experience – how do we make the tools and solutions that work for real people, not how do we get people to understand how to use our industry’s arcane tools and processes.
It was a refreshing trend echoed by the industry leading firms that will be around for a while, and misunderstood by the many firms we saw here that are regrettably shrinking and dying (remember my blog “evolve or die”.) It couldn’t have been easier identifying the right partners and manufacturers to work with – just by looking at the exhibitor firms that are growing as opposed to the ones that are shrinking. The new clarity from end-users stating their needs is starkly simple and refreshing:
- Stop building custom solutions when we don’t need them
- Stop charging me for custom programming I really don’t need
- Stop treating my AV rooms like they are an island – they are part of my whole Unified Communications plan, and if you don’t understand how that works step aside so we can speak with those who do
- Help me choose solutions that my users will be happy with, not ones I have to teach them how to and convince them to use
- Stop telling me about how great the new technology is. If it was really great it would be invisible in the process of human communications.
- I’ve grown-up in this relationship with you Mr. AV guy. Change to meet my needs and stop asking me to change my user’s habits to meet your ancient, over-complicated and over-expensive business model.
We will look back at InfoComm 2014 as a turning point in our industry – when people started seeing the naked emperors for the first time, marking the beginning of the end of the AV world as it was and the birth of the user-experience-centric communications world of the future. It was great to see InfoComm firmly establishing itself as the venue to carry-forth this message for years to come.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info. Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems, develop a future-proof collaboration strategy for internal use, or if you would like his help developing solid, user-focused go-to-market strategies for your collaboration product or service.
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