Preparing for the Evolution of Unified Conferencing and Collaboration in the Workplace
There are several steps A/V integrators can take to successfully support a hybrid workforce.
By Phil Langley | November 6, 2023
Read Time: 5 Minutes
Professional audio/video and its role within unified conferencing and collaboration (UCC) is the bridge that connects today’s remote, hybrid and in-office workforce. It’s easy to imagine the added difficulties we would have experienced during and after the pandemic if not for A/V. The pandemic accelerated not only enablement, but also user comfort levels with collaboration tools.
The next generation of the physical and digital worlds will be integrated even further, with A/V playing an integral role in the evolution. For now, many businesses are still grappling with enforcing a wholesale return to onsite or choosing a hybrid approach that provides workers with some flexibility.
Pro A/V and the Future of the Office
To make a hybrid workplace successful, integrators will need to understand and operate in both the physical and virtual worlds. While the advantages of UCC will propel us into the future, there’s still the matter of that chance encounter at the office that should not be overlooked as a way a company can thrive. These chance encounters give workers the opportunity to immediately collaborate with one or more people in their vicinity. One aspect of a company’s future success lies in the balance between ensuring there is fertile ground for these unscheduled chance encounters and enabling remote workers with UCC. Here are seven ways integrators can help facilitate both:
1. Recognize and Understand the Fourth Utility Concept
If you work in A/V or IT today, it is critical to understand the concept of information flow as the Fourth Utility. Most agree that the Fourth Utility, specifically internet connectivity and UCC, are as necessary to a commercial building’s infrastructure as the three main utilities of gas, water and electricity. With an increasing number of technologies converging on the network, understanding how it should seamlessly interact will be key; UCC is rapidly becoming the umbrella for all the projects that A/V integrators will be undertaking.
2. Enable Day-Two Expansion
A/V integrators will need to meet customers’ rising expectations for immediate service with day-two support. Third-party support services can help deliver a seamless transition for customers. Look for these qualities in a support partner:
- Knowledgeable, experienced and supplier-accredited professional A/V technicians and engineers
- Technical support and on-demand assistance
- Troubleshooting resources or on-demand talk, messaging or video
- Remote monitoring and management
- White-label service, with calls being answered as if handled by your own team
3. Scalability for Low-Complexity, High-Volume Projects
Technology convergence and the large role A/V is playing has led to the commoditization of every aspect of UCC technologies. The result is that complex deployments and projects are now much simpler. These low-complexity projects are also at a higher volume and spread across large geographic areas within every environment and sector, driving the need for scalability.
4. Grow Global Capabilities on a Local Level
Global capabilities are equally valuable for integrators working on a local or regional level. These same concepts of scalability apply to deployments across cities, states and countries. Work with a partner who recognizes the global landscape and understands that increased efficiencies, cost reductions and consistencies will enable scalability. Integrators need that global supply chain to deal with things like product stock, credit terms, product education and labor optimization.
5. Safety, Security and Productivity
Access control and health safety via A/V technology can provide new uses to screen visitors and deliver a safe and secure workplace. A/V advancements pave the way to connect today’s health and safety technology, including touchless access, thermal scanners, virtual concierge services, building security and other forms of access control. The result is easy-to-use, simplified interfaces for the user, and an expanded, diverse portfolio of offerings for the integrator.
6. Understanding the New Buyers for A/V
As decision-making shifts from facilities and real estate to IT and the office of the CIO, the A/V industry needs to understand that IT wants plug-and-play solutions that are easily replicated across large geographic areas. Scalability can only be enabled if integrators trade complex bespoke and proprietary solutions for ones that are uniform, while still meeting every end user need.
7. Financial Flexibility Has Never Been More Important
A/V integrators must meet the end users where they are. Some are looking for a capital expense (CapEx) solution – purchasing equipment, while others may seek an operating expense (OpEx) solution – monthly subscriptions that include hardware, support, upgrades, etc. Another subset of end users may want a hybrid approach, leveraging CapEx solutions for some conferencing applications and OpEx solutions for others. Regardless, the A/V integrator should be prepared to offer both.
What’s Next for Integrators Who Need to Scale?
Wesco is uniquely positioned to offer an A/V product portfolio and capabilities along with comprehensive supply chain solutions to help integrators scale, whether the project is local, regional, national or global. With nearly everything you need to help navigate the changes we’re seeing in the industry, our expertise and solutions will benefit you in several ways, including:
- Developing and managing your supply chain to improve working capital and sourcing while reducing scrap and obsolescence
- Project deployment services to streamline projects involving multiple product sets, multiple contractors, integrators or installers, inventory management issues and national or global rollouts
- Installation enhancement services to reduce costs and speed installations
- Technical expertise to help with day-two capabilities
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phil Langley, Senior Vice President, Global Enterprise AV and UCC, Wesco
Phil’s extensive background in power distribution and substation control set the stage for an early entry in the European pro A/V industry. He has consistently led in nearly every facet of the enterprise A/V space from consultancies to system integrators and with global manufacturers like Bose, AMX and Harman as well as with UCC distributors across the globe.
Learn how we can help support you as the professional audio/visual industry continues to evolve.