Wow, what a way to kick off LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 — the weeklong event’s UCC Day included three fantastic education sessions and amazing partner content from AVer, Nureva and Bluescape. There wasn’t a minute we weren’t learning, growing or soaking in something new related to the unified communications & collaboration (UCC) vertical of AV technology.
So let’s jump right in. Read on for our recap of UCC Day and the education sessions you may have missed.
Before we continue — a quick note: As we talk about unified communications & collaboration, you’ll see it referred to in various ways throughout the article, representing how it’s commonly referred to throughout the industry. Become familiar with these acronyms: UCC, UC and UC&C; they’re the three most common.
Keynote: Is the AV Industry Equipped To Deliver the COVID-19 Revolution?
I have thoroughly enjoyed every time I’ve heard AVIXA’s vice chairman of the board, Jon Sidwick, speak now — which, without sounding creepy, has been three times in the past two weeks. To explain: my first interaction with Jon was actually a pre-LAVNCH interview, which became the article “5 Minutes with Jon Sidwick for LAVNCH WEEK 2.0.” The second was when Jon spoke on a keynote panel during InfoComm 2020 Connected, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. And then today!
Jon delivered our UCC Day keynote, titled “Is the AV Industry Equipped To Deliver the COVID-19 Revolution?” where he spoke about the impact of the pandemic on our industry. More importantly, Jon wanted to explore whether we are fully equipped for the changes we will see. Twelve-plus weeks after the pandemic surfaced, Jon said, we’ve gone from disaster movie to everyone deploying video and working remotely to a point of, now, somewhat normality (or altered normality) — we’ve been through this huge experiment that’s stretched out the ability to educate, to medicate, and to work together without physically being in the same space. But what do we do moving forward, both in a personal and business sense?
As I was saying, I’ve really enjoyed Jon’s talks so far this year. Plus, I always get good quotes from him to include in my articles. One of which was:
“Am I actually talking rubbish — which could well be the case — or is there an element of sanity in what I’m going to say over the next 20 minutes?”
I love that. In all seriousness, though, Jon’s points were poignant and effective. He argued that where are now is a revolution. Without diminishing COVID’s impact, we are in the middle of big, big change in AV. But, in UCC, AV is certainly not the center of the story — platform is. The great news for AV is that we light up the platform. But we need to take hold of the platform narrative because, if we don’t, someone else will. Whoever owns that narrative will drive the experience and the results. “Adoption is the enemy of technology,” Jon pointed out.
Jon brought in two additional experts — Kay Sargent of HOK and Chris McIntyre-Brown of Futuresource Consulting — to help explain what will be important in this new world: data, the new digital workflow, and creative destruction.
Three focus areas Jon offered included: skilling up (making sure our AV businesses are populated with the right UCC skills); understanding who we’re speaking to (learning to speak the new language of UCC); and what he called “kill and create” (looking at the parts of the business that need to stop and start anew).
Kay Sargent — senior principal, director of workplace for HOK — argued that this isn’t a revolution but, rather, a major event (and possible pivotal point) for advancement. Are we going to have a knee-jerk reaction to all this, setting us back, or will it catapult us forward? What COVID-19 is telling us, Kay offered, is that we’re not living sustainably in the way we’re working, learning, etc. But this could possibly be AV’s Kodak moment; if we only focus on COVID-19, we’ll miss out on the opportunity to really rethink this opportunity and understand — how we live, how we work, how we learn — how to embrace what’s happening now, both with data and security and more.
Chris McIntyre-Brown — associate director at Futuresource Consulting — added that COVID-19 has brought forward so many questions that needed to finally be asked. We were already asking many of these questions (like, how do we deploy a full workforce remotely?) but no one was taking it seriously. The industry, as a whole however, needs to do a better job of understanding the selling of data and analytics. Essentially, the pieces are already there, Chris argued; it’s about monetizing what we already have and know.
This was a fantastic discussion. But, to Jon’s question, are we equipped for new world of COVID-19? Nowhere near.
LAVNCH & Learn: No Such Thing as Normal — How We Must Adapt as UCC Constantly Changes
When I first spoke to David Danto of the IMCCA for his pre-LAVNCH interview, one of his great points was that it’s difficult to see the big-picture when one is living through it. That point came through again for David’s live presentation on how UC&C will drive adapting to permanent societal change.
What I appreciated about Danto’s talk was his delineation between 1) Changes we’re seeing now and 2) Changes we should expect to see in the “next normal” — after there’s a vaccine — both in the office and at home. Which ones are going to stick? A few of David’s outlooks are noted here:
While the short-term changes we’ve seen seem obvious now (in what David says is “the terrible yet perfect storm for remote working”), keep in mind they weren’t only a few months ago. The long-term changes — what will stick — are the things we should really be looking at. Things like home workspaces built into residences, new business plans/workflows for hybrid work and remote working, video systems needing to communicate across all collaboration platforms, and how to measure employee productivity and happiness (even while home) are just a few of these considerations. Take note.
Panel: The Marriage of AV & UCC
UCC Day ended on a strong note, with a panel of AV/IT veterans charging forward with a discussion on UCC that (I found to be) well ahead of its time. Charmaine Torruella moderated the panel, titled “The Marriage of AV & UCC.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Charmaine ahead of this panel and learned a bit about her perspective on UCC, which came through in this panel as she posed some tough questions for the group — Gary Kayye (THE rAVe Agency), Carla Virola (InVision Source), Richard Hoar (Fashion Institute of Technology) and Tom Loza (Bluescape).
I couldn’t possibly recap all the goodness of this panel without monopolizing your morning — so I’ll give you one point from each speaker that I found riveting. If you want the full context of these quotes and the panel, register to watch the full session by getting your LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 credentials.
Charmaine Torruella: Global Services Manager, Verrex
Charmaine has been in the technology sector for 20-plus years. When she entered AV, she saw companies wanting UC solutions from us but, perhaps, that we didn’t get it. Charmaine said, “AV is a part of UC, but AV is not UC; it’s a component. That’s a hard grasp in our world — to realize AV is a component of UC. It has to speak to all the other components that make up UC.
Gary Kayye: Co-Founder & Director, THE rAVe Agency
Gary Kayye explained his perspective on the AV-UC tension — the history of our industry perhaps not embracing UC way back when there were complications in competing with telephony, etc. However, Gary finds groups that are leading the way, offering that he thinks UC is now going to be built into everything (or should be). Gary would like to see, for instance, full document collaboration (not just video; not just screen-sharing) in solutions moving forward, both in business and for his remote/in-person students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Richard Hoar: Executive Director of Media & Event Technology Services, FIT
Richard Hoar finds that UCC has a lot to do with the mindset of the organization. “This is an ongoing relationship … not just a sales pitch.” Richard said he would like to see more of a task-force approach to these sorts of things. “Rare is the engineer who really understands user experience and infrastructure; those are two wildly different disciplines. Adding information security into the mix, too. Often, information security and collaboration are competing interests — I mean, if you think about it. One is about the open sharing of information and one is about the closed securing of information. A good team-based, diverse approach is really the only way to tackle a topic like UC,” Richard said.
Carla Virola: Business Consultant, InVision Services
Carla Virola added that, in respect to COVID-19, the silos and moving pieces in UCC have all kind of come together haphazardly. Operating in this silo mode hasn’t produced the results we want. She agreed that it’s a mindset in UC, and you can get all the different departments to embrace that. In respect to UCC, Carla said, “Don’t fight it.” UCC is a repository where all your business interactions take place. But video is not collaboration — it’s an extension of it. Remember that not everyone’s comfortable fitting into the current equation (i.e., endless video chatting), Carla added.
Thomas Loza: Vice President of Business Development – Client Solutions | Strategy & Partnerships | Product Scale, Bluescape Software
Thomas Loza came to the AV space from the IT background (and an impressive 22 years at Intel Corporation) pushing an IT product into the AV space. He explained that Intel had to bring in a lot of broader decision-makers back then — it wasn’t just the device-based conversation. Enter COVID-19, and a lot has changed. But Thomas argued that it’s not just a network/bandwidth issue either; it’s a bigger hybrid, more dispersed workforce — even bigger than before. Thomas added that people have different bandwidth constraints when they’re not working in the office; we need platforms providing a persistent place to work on different timelines. We need to think about platforms that are flexible in regard to people’s bandwidth needs, not just network bandwidth.
The Short Version, Please
Sorry — there is no short version. I’m a wordy copywriter. If my blog wrap-up didn’t do it for you, you can check out all our other LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 coverage — like the product videos/feature videos from our supporters — here. Then catch the next LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 story: