AV/IT Unification: People Understanding People

A huge theme of the InfoComm 100 event was the trend towards an IT-centric world. It predicts that more IT departments will take ownership of AV management and delivery, that computers will increasingly replace AV products as the endpoint for communications. “The AV industry will need to fully understand unified communications, networks, and wireless applications.” It will be an open-source world.

Achieving unification requires a common language and shared values. There is a new website created by Biamp Systems called AVConnect.org that will help bring IT End-users and AV Integrators together. Think of AVConnect as a neutral slice of playground where forward-thinking professionals can come to reconcile differences and learn what makes each other tick. It’s about people communicating and forming partnerships that will help complete the unification of the AV and IT professions. Imagine a world where AV tools and products (and the people that understand how to make them work) share the same network and space as computers and telecom.

I wrote an article many years ago for Live Design Magazine about convergence in the entertainment and audiovisual industries. At the time I was seeing technology and techniques crossing channel and discipline lines and evolving into a new unified communication profession. Unification is about people from different technology silos learning that they share common tools and deliverables and in many, many ways are alike. At the same time AV/IT Convergence was the buzz in the audiovisual world and integrators, manufacturers, and pundits were running themselves silly trying to predict what the ramifications would be. The focus then and even now has been on the technology and how AV folks should convince IT folks to let them bring their toys onto the corporate IT playground. I avoided the AV/IT discussion then because I never felt I could address the technology side well enough to speak to the real issue: the people.

AV IT Convergence never happened. IT simply won and is waiting for AV to learn how to work in their world. The small victory has been that IT in general has given AV their own slice of the playground, but with standing instructions to stay there until we learn to behave – and AV folks have done that are now seeking permission to play over by the big swingset and maybe even play with the cool kids. The good news about this impasse is that AV and IT people have had an appropiate amount of technological distance to more objectively observe one another. Going back to my aforementioned article, convergence is about technology, unification is about people. We are in a new era of AV IT unification.

Will AV eventually become a recognized subset of the IT industry? Or are both groups part of a larger communications mega-industry? Either way, AV will not survive as a distinct discipline if it can’t win over the IT professionals that control access to the worldwide communications network. Let’s start by getting everyone together in a thinking forum.

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