More Companies Seek AV Partners to Stay Competitive in Digital Era

With automation, data and digital experiences touching all aspects of a company’s operations, there’s been a significant shift in the use of outsourcing to third parties as a way to keep up. According to a recent study, for example, organizations outsourced IT functions at the highest rate (11.9%) in recent history – using third-parties to take on a larger portion of IT needs so they can focus on their mission.
While IT outsourcing has been common for some time, another significant outsourcing trend has been developing: More organizations are turning to managed services for AV integration as a way to gain a competitive edge in marketing, communications and other key areas.
A recent study revealed that 81% of survey respondents used third-party companies for at least one managed service. Multimedia production was the most outsourced managed service, with 52% of associations reporting that they had used it, according to the study by SmithBucklin, an association management and services company.
When focusing on developing an effective multimedia infrastructure, there are numerous ways a third-party managed service can work to your advantage. Here are 6 reasons to consider outsourcing to an Audio Visual and Integrated Experiences (AVIXA) provider:

  1. Increase profitability. By hiring a third-party AVIXA provider, you’re able to tackle one of the most pressing challenges facing many corporations today – figuring out how to promote engagement and collaboration, whether it’s your employees or your prospective customers. Many companies are tapping into AV experiences to address those challenges.

However, managing an AV system in-house can get costly quickly, especially when you factor in staffing costs. By leveraging the skills and expertise of a third-party team, you can gain significant savings on the salaries and benefits that come with hiring a part-time or full-time staff. You will know upfront the management and maintenance fees of a third-party AVIXA provider, and pay only for what you need.

  1. Best-in-class cloud services. Another area that can lead to significant cost-savings is the use of cloud services to minimize the need for corporate travel. With best-in-cloud services that provide a smooth videoconferencing and virtual collaboration experience, companies can maintain the level of engagement without footing the bill for travel expenses as well as the employee’s lack of productivity while in transit.

Further, digital signage – which is offered through AVIXA companies’ managed services – engages external and internal audiences and helps companies achieve their HR, communications and marketing objectives.

  1. Free you up to focus on core competencies. A third-party team that specializes in the AV industry also will be more equipped to seek out innovations that can help you reach your company’s objectives. “By keeping your team focused on your core competencies — your critical mission, you won’t have the diversions that come with understanding and keeping up with the latest industry trends and processes in another industry,” said Andrew Sellers, principal at Sensory Technologies.

“By allowing professional AVIXA integration companies to manage their services, our clients can improve their bottom line and remain focused on their core business rather than getting tied up in communication logistics and inefficiencies,” he added.
Also, a third-party team will have the capacity to send technicians to focus on each event that your company is hosting – even if it’s on the same day. An in-house team may not be able to easily navigate and manage simultaneous events at different locations.

  1. Consistently refresh aging technology. Another consideration that makes third-party providers an attractive option is the opportunity to use up-to-date equipment. Again, as specialists in the AVIXA industry, a qualified third-party provider will ensure that you have the latest, most effective equipment for your needs. In many cases, in-house providers have a limited collection of equipment.
  2. Provide up-to-date expertise. Along with understanding the latest innovations and equipment in the industry and how it can impact your bottom line, third-party AV companies also apply a set of standards based on experience levels. More than likely, their technicians will be certified in their industries and can offer dedicated support and service.
  3. Embrace flexible budgeting. With an increasing number of companies specializing in the growing AVIXA industry, you will have the advantage of selecting a partner that meets the requirements of your event. Again, you gain cost-savings by using a third-party team only when you require additional services. After identifying a preferred provider, you also can negotiate rates for covering your meetings and events for an extended period. Traditionally, the largest expense from third-party managers is labor – another area that can be negotiated to stay in line with your budget.

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
By establishing a partnership with an AVIXA company, your team can benefit from improved services and better prices for future projects. Planning and managing an event, whether it’s a small meeting or large conference, can result in logistical complications.
Third-party companies can minimize those complications, while giving you the tools to reach your company objectives and increase your profitability. With the demand for more cutting-edge methods of communicating in the digital age, companies will find that an AVIXA partner can help them solve critical challenges, Sellers said. “I can’t imagine how in-house teams can compete with the quality or support provided by our certified 24/7/365 Client Solution Center.”

How to Create a Digital Signage Strategy That Gets Your Message Across

Without question, the way we communicate has undergone one of the fastest evolutions during  the past 10 to 15 years. We’ve reached a point of nearly complete saturation for the number of American adults who own a cellphone – 95%, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s clear that we’re digitally connected – and we’re increasingly consuming content in various forms and on different platforms. That’s why it’s not surprising that many companies and organizations are increasingly exploring digital signage as an effective method to connect with their audiences.
Digital signage can be the key to instantaneously delivering important messages through video, images, live streaming, PowerPoint slides and graphics. Since messages can be easily refreshed from a device connected to the Intranet, you can get important information sent out to your audience in real time.  
When incorporating digital signage as part of your communications strategy, it’s important to understand your options as well as the components of a plan that achieves your organization’s objectives. Use the following as an introductory guide to leverage digital signage as a more effective way to get your message across.
Basics of Digital Signage Technology
Although the first generations of digital signage solutions were primarily on-premise, many of today’s digital platforms are purchased as a service – an option that has made this technology more accessible to numerous organizations because of the minimal upfront investment required. This flexible model also makes it exceptionally easy to scale for growth.
When investing in digital signage, it’s important to understand the components of your system. They include:
Digital Display: This is your visual screen, which can be selected from consumer-grade TV screens or commercial screen options.
Software: Also called a content management system, the software for a digital display allows you to create and run your content.
Media Player: This is the small computer that powers your digital content on your display.
Content: This can consist of branding, messaging and other material you create to engage your audiences. It can include slides, images, graphics, live feeds (including Twitter and RSS feeds), videos and interactive. Often, content already exists within organizations and can be easily formatted to work well within a digital signage strategy.
Designed for Flexibility
One of the most attractive features of digital signage is the flexibility it provides. When managing the display’s templates, you can operate them much like a customized playlist. Multiple options are available – full screen or partial, various formats, varying lengths of time and different types of displays. It is intuitively easy to establish different zones and messaging objectives based on the audience you’re trying to reach.
You can also determine the type of administrative control you want over each templated area, which can be fully customizable with some of today’s digital signage platforms. Different people or departments can have administrative rights over the content shown in specific templated areas. They also can be designated to basically “own” specific displays at specific times. If your organization prefers to tightly control messaging or branding, you can limit administrative privileges to specific people or departments.
With digital signage solutions, your media players can be attached to displays through power and internet connections. Some companies provide their own players as part of a subscription service for convenience. When the players are activated, the displays are networked and spontaneously in sync. This feature can be particularly helpful for companies that need global deployments.
If the expense of a system is a concern for your company, you may be able to cut costs by using existing display hardware. Your equipment can be simply repurposed for digital signage.
Developing a Digital Signage Strategy (DSS)
Keep in mind that digital signage is designed to deliver specific messaging that organizations deem worthy and important through networked displays. When developing a Digital Signage Strategy (DSS), focus on specific business objectives that can be reached if you were to deliver messaging in a broad and transparent format.
At the most basic level, a DSS should address the following questions:

  • What messaging is being shared? What is the intent of the message or the story?
  • Who is the target audience? Is it primarily internal or external, i.e. employees or customers? Does the target audience vary based on the day or time?
  • How is the message being conveyed? Video, graphics or any other specific media content?
  • When will the messaging be shown? What is the best schedule for viewing?
  • Why is the messaging being delivered? What outcomes are expected among the targeted audience?
  • Where will the messaging be displayed? Based on where the audience congregates, where should displays be located to achieve the greatest impact?
  • What types of display would be most impactful? Floor standing model, interactive (touch) kiosks, wall mounted, ceiling mounted or video walls?  
  • How will progress be tracked? What metrics will be used to determine if the DSS achieved the desired outcomes?

Measuring Progress through Digital Signage
When there are discussions about acquiring metrics through digital signage, a debate about biometric recognition inevitably follows. With Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA), a somewhat controversial method of measuring impact, a sensor is attached to a display to record data through face-detection software. Based on the contours of a person’s face and position, it can determine how long the person looks at the screen. This software not only captures how long a person views the display, it also may classify the viewer by age, gender and other characteristics. Less controversial sensors may be used to quantify general ‘foot traffic’ to determine how many people walk past a specific display at certain times.
Although gaining data about how many people walk by a display during a certain period may be a helpful metric, organizations often need more detail to accelerate decision-making related to their business goals. For example, generic data on passing traffic may not indicate whether the displayed content was noticed – or inspired action or change in employee behaviors.
However, an effective digital signage strategy can include messaging that drives people to other established communication tools, such as a website that already has metric capabilities built into it.  After all, if an organization invested in a company server or intranet, why not encourage more engagement by using teaser reminders on networked digital signage to invites employees to pull something from the server?
Most importantly, the metric related to digital signage must be tied to the objective of your organization’s communication strategy. Once the DSS is articulated, you can define the measure of success. In other words, will success be measured by a specific call to action: Increased traffic in a viewing geography? Data from exit surveys or interviews? Employee retention of information? Visits to a website or company server? Subsequent standardized measurements (Net Promoter System scores, employee engagement reports, or safety/compliance indicators)?
Some organizations integrate mobile apps into their digital signage. For example, you can use different types of engagement apps to give employees the opportunity to publicly recognize and reward one another on the networked displays, perhaps in the scrolling ticker tape templated section. These internal recognition apps can be used to recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond.
Ongoing DSS Management
As previously noted, digital signage can be used to significantly advance your organization’s critical objectives. As part of your DSS, it’s important to continue measuring and assessing the effectiveness of your plan. Adjust your plan as needed to achieve the desired results.
By approaching the use of digital signage strategically, your organization can leverage this technology to engage your audiences — one of the most important ways to meet your goals.

Internal Communication Through Digital Signage

Networked digital signage goes indoors as an effective way to communicate with employees
As a corporate initiative, internal communications is a fairly new concept. When Alexander R. Heron penned the book “Sharing Information with Employees” in 1942, the idea of sharing company details with employees was revolutionary.
Today, you’re unlikely to come across an executive who believes his or her company can succeed without some level of transparency with employees. Many manufacturers have additional concerns around employees understanding safety regulations, while startup companies often swear that inclusiveness with employees is critical to their productivity.
Lately, however, there is mounting concern regarding whether employees are actually tuning into those important company messages. And there’s good reason to be concerned.
Traditional ways of communicating with employees – including notices attached to bulletin boards and newsletters delivered via email – largely haven’t kept up with how today’s workers consume information.
An increasing number of organizations are turning to networked digital signage for some of the same reasons that companies have been using them to influence customer buying behaviors for decades.  
Here are just a few reasons why networked digital signage can be an essential tool for engaging employees with company messaging:
It offers a more dynamic communications platform: Networked digital signage is a powerful vehicle for transparently informing in many situations – including educating on processes, products and services; promoting human resource initiatives, events and upcoming trainings; showing what customers are thinking and experiencing; recognizing employee achievement; introducing new employees; and distributing executive announcements. With digital signage, you have the option of delivering content through several means – text, imagery, video, live streaming, graphs, etc. This expanded form of storytelling generates a more dynamic avenue for employee engagement.
It can be quickly updated: In addition to scheduled content, companies may need to issue time-sensitive information. With the flexibility and customization attributes of networked digital signage, administrators can quickly update information to share key metrics and regulatory compliance details or to send out emergency alerts. Some solutions allow for updates from any mobile device connected to the Internet, making spontaneous, pervasive communication simple.
It offers a means for repetition: Since content can be displayed in the areas where certain employees gather or regularly pass by, key messages can be reinforced, which in turn leads to increased awareness and retention.
It can provide data: With networked digital signage, you don’t lose your ability to gauge employee interaction. With the addition of beacons and sensors, companies can detect whether employees are engaged with the messaging – offering data that can help them determine if the digital signage would be more effective in other locations throughout the building.
It provides more options for engagement: Digital signage can engage people and, therefore, accelerate an organization’s decision making. Touch displays can mimic large tablets or smartphones – inviting interactivity and encouraging feedback from employees. When you incorporate social media into a digital signage platform, your team can encourage further engagement. Employees can post pictures, share best practices, engage twitter feeds and provide critical insights and feedback.  
With the attributes of networked digital signage, a company can use internal messaging more effectively to enhance employee engagement and hit important metrics. Cloud digital signage solutions give this transformative capability to organizations of all sizes with minimal upfront cost and easy scalability.

NanoLumens recognizes Sensory Technologies for creative implementation of Chicago Aon Center project

ATLANTA, GA – Just weeks after gaining international recognition for its interactive LED visualization solutions, NanoLumens announced Sensory Technologies as one of the winners of its own annual awards competition.
In honoring Sensory Technologies with its NanoLumens Crystal Nixel™ Award, NanoLumens cited the partner company with creative implementation of two massive NanoLumens® LED displays in the Aon Center, one of Chicago’s most iconic skyscrapers. The highly visual digital display measures a total of 840 square feet.
The floor-to-ceiling video wall greets visitors in the building’s south entrance with stunning video images of Chicago. “This is a visual experience unlike anything else in Chicago,” said Joe Hynes, Senior VP of Project Management at JLL, the property management firm for the Aon Center. “It’s so enthralling that people, including tenants, are constantly stopping to take selfies and videos and sharing them on social media.”
As a partner for NanoLumens, Sensory Technologies, an audio visual solutions provider, installed the two 42’w X 10’h 4mm pixel pitch displays as part of the Aon Center’s renovation of its lobby and atrium. Combined, the two displays create a single, ultra-wide visual display.
The partnership on the Aon Center project was seamless, according to Andrew Sellers, technical operations principal at Sensory Technologies. “From an installation perspective, the learning curve for NanoLumens products was extremely intuitive,” he said. “We’ve worked with NanoLumens before in Chicago, and we know that NanoLumens’ solutions minimize complications on large projects.
Sensory Technologies, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., has extensive experience with emergent technology, including large matrixed displays, digital signage, video conferencing, immersive environments and collaborative solutions that elevate messaging and engage audiences. The company also is at the leading edge in installing innovative options like gesture-based interactivity and 3D and curved visual orientations.

How Do You Communicate With Millennials?

Effectively communicating with Millennials is critical to your company’s future success. As the Pew Research Center recently pointed out, about one-third of today’s American workforce belongs in the category of Millennials – largely defined as the adults who are now between the ages of 20 to 36. That’s nearly 54 million employees … and growing as more Baby Boomers retire.
With this generation already making up the largest percentage of the labor market, many company executives are recognizing the importance of strategically engaging and empowering Millennials. Successfully communicating with this workforce segment will be key to any organization becoming more efficient, productive and profitable, whether it’s an enterprise, a healthcare institution, a nonprofit agency, a manufacturer or service provider.
Here are several things to consider when implementing a communications strategy that takes into consideration the needs of Millennials.
Critically analyze your current communications strategy
A successful strategy lies in analyzing your organization’s current way of communicating – whether it’s sharing information with colleagues, teams, leadership, or customers. As you review your communication avenues, consider the preferences your current employees have for communicating with each other and acquiring information.
Now, take time to reflect on the communication behavioral style that describes many Millennials. It’s important to recognize that, for most Millennials, there’s been a piece of technology touching their fingers for a significant amount of time. Furthermore, the information they’re regularly acquiring from their devices is often customized for them. And if it’s not, it quickly can be refined to meet their immediate needs.
They are increasing accustomed to this personalized information being pushed to them – very little searching is required. Also, much of this customized content comes in the form of visuals – imagery and video. This is their reality.
Baby Boomers, on the other hand, grew up with an entirely different experience — gathering information from encyclopedias, card catalogs, TV guides and phone books. It never occurred to them to expect customized content that showed up on a handheld device. Most of the content they gathered was in the form of the written word.
Offer numerous avenues of communication
Given Millennials habits, how are you communicating with them? Reports suggest that roughly most organizations primarily use email for internal communication. While Millennials do use email, it obviously is not the only way to communicate with them, as a recent study in Forbes revealed – nor possibly, the best.
By incorporating videos, imagery and interactive elements into your communication strategy, you can increase the impact of your messaging. This focus can be effective without alienating the multiple generations of employees that make up your workforce.
Invest in advanced platforms for communicating
When addressing challenges with your communications strategy, it can be tempting to focus on developing more creative content (making it more engaging) instead of focusing on the method of distribution.
It’s increasingly important to consider embracing a broader array of options when it comes to how we share, offer, deliver the content we’re producing among employees. Several vehicles for content distribution are gaining traction in today’s organizations. They include video production and networked digital displays.
Organizations are adopting video strategies for onboarding, marketing, recruitment, training, and many other critical communication efforts. Video production falls in line with the trends that are dominating content delivery outside of the workplace — a good indication that your audiences will be more receptive to videos distributed at work.
Compared to traditional methods of content distribution (e.g., email), networked digital signage also can better communicate with multi-tasking, distracted employees that expect to receive more information from their preferred perspective.
By delivering content the way that Millennials – and other generations – prefer to interact with it, you can take significant strides in developing a communications strategy that better engages your workforce.

3 Factors That Lead to a More Collaborative Work Environment

Collaboration is increasingly being cited as one of the most critical ways to drive success. While collaboration isn’t necessarily new, the speed and ease at which these collaborations must occur has become one of the new challenges facing businesses trying to stay competitive.

As a result, the demand for design and technology solutions that empower collaboration has increased exponentially. The assumption is that by creating collaborative spaces, people will automatically change the way they currently interact and move to some ‘future state’ of interaction that is better.

workplace collaborationWhile collaborative solutions, such as multi-user, interactive platforms, provide a path to reaching those goals, it’s important to address the behaviors you’re trying to support.

Here are several important functions to consider when consulting with an AV specialist.

Sharing Content: When people meet, there often is the need to share content. A person may want to take an image that is small and project it larger or take an image that is on one device and send it to another. The quality of the shared imagery is particularly important in certain situations (e.g., medical imagery).

When the display is large enough, collaborative sessions can benefit from allowing multiple people to share content from their devices simultaneously. Because people typically choose to interact with content that makes them most comfortable (numbers, text, pictures), having options allows for more productive participation during problem-solving tasks.

Contributing to the Content: In some situations, merely sharing or displaying content is not enough. People need to contribute to the content — alter it, edit it, enlarge it or reposition it. Depending on the image, people may want to contribute to it in different ways. For example, with a document or spreadsheet, they may want to add notes or edit text. The experience may be entirely different with an image or video.

By allowing for these types of spontaneous contributions, the engagement among participants can be intensified.  With this type of solution, it’s important to consider the types of devices participants are using, i.e. laptops, phones or tablets. Some people also may prefer to make changes directly via touch.

Preserving the Content: Some meetings require multiple sessions spanning weeks or months. As a result, it may be necessary to capture and save the entire workspace — not just the individual pieces of content.

This can be particularly important when the intended outcome of a meeting is a storyboard, an extended process or a multi-faceted client profile.

Being able to save an entire view that includes dozens of videos, images, documents and spreadsheets — and then revisit the moment where the team left off — can be incredibly beneficial for quick forming and quick dissolving collaborative teams.

By focusing on the behaviors you’re trying to support, you can take significant steps in encouraging a collaborative work environment that drives measurable results.

3 Critical Ways To Further Engage Remote Employees

No matter the industry, there’s a pretty good chance your company has its share of remote employees. According to a recent  Gallup poll published in the New York Times, more Americans are working remotely. Out of 15,000 employees surveyed, 43 percent indicated that they spend at least some part of their work schedule working remotely.

remote employeesYet, the flexibility of working remotely doesn’t mean these employees are completely satisfied with the experience. Many perceive that they’re treated differently than their on-site co-workers, according to a survey published in Fast Company. Their top complaints included feeling as if they’re not treated equally and being excluded from decisions related to projects.

As the trend toward a remote workforce grows, companies may increasingly be faced with the challenge of making sure these employees feel connected.

Here are 3 critical ways to engage remote employees:

Eliminate the “different experiences” for remote workers. When it comes to ensuring each employee feels a part of a team, whether they’re working remotely or not, the ability to collaborate must be one of the top factors. With remote workers, the challenge is intensified primarily because of distance. That’s where advanced technology can play a role.

Think of the way a remote employee may feel when participating in a meeting. Is the experience different than on-site employees? Are they limited to an audio experience? Can they see the content being displayed on the screen? Can they see who’s talking?

Remove the barriers. Learn to empathize with the far side. Robust video collaboration solutions can help. When remote participants have the ability to see who’s talking, and additionally be fully engaged with the shared content that’s displayed, more effective interactions occur. Also, with this type of technology, you can seamlessly ‘bring people in and send people out,’ allowing the right mix of individuals to be involved in a project – even in the spur of the moment. It can remove the barriers to active participation – especially within organizations that rely on SMEs (subject matter experts) that may be geographically dispersed.

Remote employee also should be able to readily add to the discussion and collaboration with content-sharing capabilities. With the latest in AV innovations, these experiences can be seamless and effective. They also are increasingly affordable.

Engage remote workers in spontaneous huddles. With collaboration becoming the industry’s latest buzzword – and for good reason, it’s essential that you make allowances for remote employees to feel connected even during spontaneous huddle

Set your team up for success by providing intuitive, user-friendly virtual tools that encourage collaborative discussions. Being able to share, contribute, and preserve content among people – no matter where they are physically located – helps fuel collaborative behavior.

The more seamless the experience for in-room and remote participants, the more effortlessly collaboration can occur.

Dedicate time/resources to employee development. Managers already are pressed when it comes to ensuring that their employees are challenged under performance reviews and personal development plans. Add in the remote factor, and it becomes even more difficult to assess performance.

With regularly scheduled checks — including a mix of one-to-one video engagements – managers can increase their effectiveness in ensuring that remote employees are engaged and poised for success.

By incorporating a strategic plan that prioritizes frequent eye-to-eye touch-points with remote employees, organization can more effectively leverage the contributions of critical team members.

5 Cool Tech Trends That are Transforming Businesses in 2018

When technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and digital displays were first introduced to businesses, they were largely considered “cool.” A “nice-to-have” addition to the workplace, if you had budget to spare.

There’s been a significant shift. Companies are now finding that these tech tools and systems can measurably impact critical business objectives — from enhanced team collaboration to more productive sales engagements, employee onboarding and recruiting.
“There are unique, affordable solutions on the market – right now, today – that can accelerate the way organizations make decisions, take products to market, empower employee learning, capture and transfer critical knowledge, attract and retain talent – and the list goes on,” said Derek Paquin, principal of Sensory Technologies, which recently hosted the 7th Annual Sensory Technologies TECH EXPO in Rochester, N.Y.

During the TECH EXPO, attendees were able to experience how various technologies in the Audio Visual & Integrated Experiences (AVIXA) industry can help advance their company objectives.

Here are 5 leading technology trends that are transforming businesses.

1. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality

While VR/AR headsets have long been embraced by gamers, they’re increasingly making their way into various organizations that are using them as tools of engagement, as pointed out in a recent Forbes article.

It’s been a game-changer, so to speak, in numerous ways. Companies can flip the paradigm on how they offer professional development and onboard their new hires. Sales teams now can virtually demonstrate how their products will enhance a client’s environment by immersing them into a memorable experience that sells itself.

One of the main takeaways: When introducing VR/AR into the workplace, consider a comprehensive approach. It should take into account your overall business objectives, the metrics you want to achieve and which tech systems, when combined, can deliver an effective, integrated solution.

2. Advanced Control Systems

Collaboration has become one of the biggest buzzwords in business. And for good reason. Effective collaboration has been associated with business success. In a recent report, Harvard Business Review described collaboration as “the New Innovation.”

But collaboration must be effortless for it to truly be effective. That’s why it’s critical that technology doesn’t get in the way by being too cumbersome or difficult to figure out. The latest control systems are much more intuitive.

Adjusting to different workplace habits such as open concept, virtual teaming, and collaborative learning has never been easier with intuitive system designs that make adoption less threatening.

Technology continues to melt into the background, allowing people to achieve their objectives while utilizing the mobile devices that they prefer.

3. Digital Displays

Among the most effective ways to communicate any type of company message, digital displays continue to undergo evolutions — with the latest versions on the horizon including OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) and MicroLed technology.

An increasing number of businesses are turning to networked digital displays to boost retention of vital company information — especially when trying to reach multiple generations of employees, all with different communication habits and expectations.

Digital displays also are helping companies better engage with visitors and clients through wayfinding capabilities.

As highlighted at the TECH EXPO, the next generations of digital displays include OLED, which delivers intense colors and contrast on a super-thin screen. MicroLed promises the ability to configure underlying LED panels to various specifications. The flexibility to position small displays in unique, almost-limitless designs opens up the possibility for memorable branding in the form of lobby logo ‘artwork’ and corporate mission statements.

4. Enhanced Networks/Connected Devices

When it comes to AV — already a critical component of many business communication strategies, integration with other devices (IoT, BIoT) has moved to the forefront of the discussion.

AV integration can no longer be an afterthought – something that’s scheduled when the construction dust has settled. The technology partner needs to be at the table early so that a holistic approach to a system’s design can proactively incorporate the necessary AV and IT requirements.

“If you aren’t having AV over IP and network security conversations along the way, you need to recalibrate your approach,” warned Blaine Brown, CTO, Sensory Technologies following his EXPO keynote address. “The sooner conversations occur with your AV partner, the better; they will be able to design a solution that can measurably meet specific business initiatives.”

5. Cloud Subscriptions

Another major tech trend that’s emerging involves cost – especially upfront capital expenditures. Some companies have resisted using transformative tech solutions because of perceptions about the investment required.

With monthly cloud subscriptions for virtual collaboration, networked digital signage, on-site support, remote monitoring, video strategy and management, white-glove event services, and so much more, organizations now are able to incorporate intuitive, scalable, communication and collaboration platforms very quickly and affordably.

“An all-cloud solution may not be the best total solution for an organization, but chances are that the cloud can greatly enhance a hybrid solution that will be just right to achieve critical organizational objectives,” concluded Paquin.

AV & IT Trust: A Requirement for a Productive Workplace

What do projectors, room scheduling panels, occupancy sensors, and even power strips have in common?  They can all be connected to the network.  With the rise of IP-enabled AV equipment, it feels like more of what we install is being connected than isn’t.  Add these devices to existing video codecs, wireless sharing, and cloud services, and AV technologies start to take up a decent percentage of traffic.

So what do IT directors think of this?  Their two biggest concerns are security and reliability.  Because each additional device has the potential to pose a security threat, IT departments are hesitant to add anything that hasn’t been thoroughly tested.  And, without careful planning, all of these added devices can slow a network to unusable speeds.

Here are a few examples of common problems related to these concerns and what AV integrators can do to solve them:

  • Remote Troubleshooting: The ability to identify, and potentially solve, problems remotely is one of the biggest advantages of networked AV equipment.  It also presents its own set of challenges because of the need to connect another device to the wider internet. Potential fixes can include two-factor authentication or VPNs in order provide a secure connection.
  • Software/Firmware Updates: While keeping up with the latest updates can go a long way to boost security, the process has the potential to go wrong, especially in the case of auto-updates.  A problem with the update can cripple a room system before a critical meeting.  The easiest way to fix this is to manually initiate updates when you’re sure that there’s enough time to troubleshoot.
  • Strained Bandwidth: The sheer number of added AV devices can slow down a network, but content also plays a large part.  Videoconferencing and streaming video needs must be carefully planned for and tested.  Another possible solution is to work with IT to assign priority to certain traffic.  Services that are vulnerable to latency or packet loss—such as videoconferencing or streaming—should have higher priority than your other equipment. Of course, you might be overruled by the client’s critical

These are just a few examples of potential concerns and solutions.  To be successful, integrators need to know about these common problems, but more importantly, they need to have the technical knowledge to communicate with IT.

At Sensory Technologies, we’re able to have those discussions.  Our team has built on their foundation of industry experience and relevant training by keeping up with the latest trends and developments.  We’ve even expanded our offerings into the traditional IT world with our Meraki partnership.  Let us know how we can help you.  Click on the link below to get in contact with one of our technology specialists.

Speak with a Sensory Technologies rep about your next solution!


5 Microphone Tips for Audio & Videconferencing

Managing sound for music is very different from managing sound for speech. Music is about fidelity; speech is about intelligibility. Anything that interferes with the ability to clearly hear words needs to be minimized or eliminated. While every space and situation is different, here are five general tips for better quality spoken audio:

1. More Microphones, More Problems
Every live/open microphone is another path for potential feedback and unwanted noise. When setting up your audio system, use the fewest number of mics possible and mute any that aren’t actively being used. This could be as simple as asking videconferencing participants to mute their laptop mic when they aren’t speaking, to a technician controlling multiple mics with a soundboard.

2. Watch your Spacing
Having two open microphones at different distances from the same sound is problematic. Avoid this by muting unneeded mics, moving them further away, or using directional microphones. If a presenter is wearing a lavalier mic and then steps up to the podium or picks up a handheld, make sure only one of the mics is active.

3. Know Your Mics
Polar patterns are ways of describing the sensitivity of a microphone in a given direction. Omni-mics capture sound uniformly from all directions and are more forgiving, while cardioid microphones have a more directional or “heart-shaped” pattern. Although cardioid microphones can be used to remove unwanted background sounds, you’ll need to encourage users to talk directly into them.

4. Beat Feedback
People often blame the microphone, but ‘feedback’ is caused by a combination of several things – acoustics, amplification levels, microphone directionality, or loudspeaker location. In a room with loudspeakers, avoid omni-mics because they cannot be adequately aimed. Be mindful of your mic positioning and if a speaker tends to roam, caution him not to walk in front of the loudspeaker with a live mic.

5. Soften the Room
Reflective (hard) surfaces can cause intelligibility because the sound bounces around the room and arrives at the microphone at slightly different times. Sound-absorbing wall and window treatments can significantly reduce room reverberation. If sound-treatment isn’t possible, try moving the microphone further away from the offensive surface.