If you’re reading anything online about business right now, it is likely pontificating about what businesses will look like when the world goes back to work.
It’s all about the new normal, the post-COVID-19 workplace shuffle and the pandemic pivot — all of which sound like they could be performed on “Dancing with the Stars,” once that resumes as well.
However, I don’t really believe that the events of the last two months have radically changed the direction of anything in our ProAV world. They have sped parts of it up for sure, but there have been no real 180s, no revelations that those who were paying attention before did not already see coming.
The remote workforce had already been growing. The “work is only done here” attitude was already being challenged. Teleconferencing was already starting to proliferate due to the availability of cloud-based services and their ability to bulldoze the cost barriers of high-priced hardware codecs.
The shift toward workplace personalization and consumer-centric devices was also in motion. Control systems were moving toward the cloud; interfaces were available on phones and tablets; and microphones, wireless screen sharing, cloud-based collaboration software were all already “a thing.” The presence-based UI and Voice were being talked about every day.
Large rooms were being replaced by four smaller ones for meetings. Travel was being reduced based on the efficiency of videoconferencing. Surveillance in the name of productivity was commonplace. Access control systems tracked who was in the building. Occupancy sensors and cameras kept track of hot spots for adjusting buildings for energy efficiency. Facial recognition was already being used and hotly debated. GPS and Bluetooth location tracking for employee productivity were already being deployed. Retail and community experiences were being replaced by more efficient and cost-effective online shopping, at home streaming of content, etc. The need for building an “experience” worthy of attending was already being discussed. VR, MR and AR were being deployed and explored for everything from a theme park visit to a trade show to a conference call.
Customers were forced to adapt quickly and adopt new tools — many times in a DIY fashion — to maintain business continuity, further accelerating the shift toward prosumer grade designs.
There is no vector change — only acceleration down an existing path. The increased chatter isn’t so much about new solutions but more about solutions that are “new” to the person asking specifically.
Companies will either multiply the successes they were already having in these areas or they may finally be forced to embrace a path that has been in motion for some time, despite the resistance to adapt to it. Companies will continue to lead, finally follow, or potentially be left in the dust.
There is no ProAV pivot. What you see happening now was already coming if you were paying attention.