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Paul Richards

Reviewing the latest USB video and audio device technology for effective online meetings and video conferencing.

ProAV's Role in the Web Conferencing World

ProAV's Role in the Web Conferencing World

Hello USBPro Followers!

Today we wanted to tackle a important topic on the minds of so many audio visual integrators, distributors and even long time clients of traditional AV partners. What is the role of Professional AV in the web video conferencing world? There no doubt that professional audio visual integration played a key role in the evolution of video conferencing in it's infancy. But where do audio visual integrators fit into the market when Skype for Business costs only $2 per month (basic subscription)? Where do audio visual integrators fit into the conversation when a enterprise chooses to standardize on the Google ChromeBox for Meetings at only $999? Heck even video conferencing robots are allowing CEO's to virtually tour office spaces, manufacturing areas even attend remote meetings from around the world for an entry cost of only $2,999! (See DoubleRobotics)

Pro AV as Specialized Consultants?

Today we wanted to tackle a important topic on the minds of so many audio visual integrators, distributors and even long time clients of traditional AV partners. What is the role of Professional AV in the age of web video conferencing? There is no doubt that professional audio visual integration played a key role in the evolution of video conferencing in it's infancy. But where do audio visual integrators fit into the market when Skype for Business costs only $2 a month per user? Where do audio visual integrators fit into the conversation when a enterprise chooses to standardize on the Google ChromeBox for Meetings at only $999? Heck even video conferencing robots are allowing CEO's to virtually tour office spaces, manufacturing areas, even attend remote meetings from around the world for an entry cost of only $2,999! (See DoubleRobotics).

Let's first talk about the core benefits of ProAV and what industry trends we have seen that address the web conferencing world we live in today. Professional integrators bring experience and confidence to the table when a client is unsure of the next technology investment they want to make. In this case professional audio visual integrators fall into the "Specialized Consultant" category. That's great! But is this category as a whole going to suffer as companies the size of Google are making it a priority to simplify video and audio conferencing solutions?

Pro AV as Specialized Installation Experts?

Ask any Professional AV company and they will tell you installation services is a large part of their business. In truth, many audio visual companies find it hard to charge for consulting services and end up bundling the consulting costs into the overall solution. Installation business will always be an important part of ProAV and I personally do not foresee an end to complex solutions that require professional integration. But again, let's look at some market trends that would suggest a change in the traditional landscape. One that just popped up a few years ago is "Wireless Presentation". Jump-started by companies like Crestron (with the Crestron Air Media) and Barco (with the Barco ClickShare), wireless presentation has simply exploded in the past few years. Traditionally a big part of audio visual integrators job was running cables. Now end users can hook up solutions as simple as a AppleTV ($99) or a Google ChromeCast ($39) to provide a comparable solution to hardwired cabling which used to cost thousands. In this case, an entire segment of AV integration was rendered obsolete.

Pro AV as System Design Experts?

This is Professional AV's strong suit for sure. Designing systems with the vast knowledge and background of what works and what doesn't. Creating a system that might not be unique but it's tried and true. Customers come to Professional AV because they don't want to cobble something together on their own. Even though massive companies like Google are pushing "all-in-one" solutions, Professional AV will always have a place for designing systems that fit customer requirements, budgets and timelines.

Manufacture's Getting it Right!

I've heard a lot of professionals who attended InfoComm 2015 say the experience was "under whelming". Well I would like to point out a few companies that are "Getting it Right" and we should all be paying attention to them. One company is Epiphan Systems. Their new broadcasting/live streaming solution, the Pearl, is the kind of solution todays market is looking for. Out of the box it's ready for YouTube Live integration which is going to revolutionize the live streaming/broadcasting industry and it's built to utilize the network. By utilizing a network interface for configuration Epiphan was able to remove the clutter of knobs and levers you traditional see on a video mixing solution in favor of a simplistic touch screen that doesn't skimp on features.

Other companies like HuddleCamHD are bring professional USB pan tilt zoom cameras to the market that support web conferencing and control system integration. If you got a chance to visit the booth at InfoComm HuddleCam was also showing off the world's first wireless USB conferencing camera. This is just another great example of a company that is bridging the gap between the ProAV market and the web conferencing age of GoToMeeting, WebEX and Skype.

Conclusion

ProAV isn't going anywhere and that's a fact. There will be winners and losers as there are in every industry. This question of ProAV's role in the world of web conferencing is something every AV company should tackling from the bottom up. Do our engineers has the proper training on USB and web conferencing equipment? Has our installation crew had their hands on the latest ChromeBox or Intel NUC? Does our sales team know how to present web conferencing solutions when the time is right? All of these questions should be considered from the top down in any Audio Visual company. Thanks for reading and until next time - USB Pros

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The Epiphan Pearl - ProAV Getting it Right!

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