Adding technology to business designs is a risky endeavor. This sort of technology can get outdated in just a few years — and it can’t be replaced easily. And since the entire building is often designed around that technology, it is important for building developers to select AV technology that is flexible, easy to update and cost-effective.
This strategy is referred to as future-proofing. It’s one of the best ways building developers can ensure that clients get their money’s worth when it comes to their AV technology investments, according to Awais Ahmed at TG Daily.
Here’s why future-proofing is so important for developers today — and how to leverage the approach for your own designs.
Essentials of Future-Proofing
More and more businesses are asking for workspaces that are installed with AV technology right from the beginning. While this is a great opportunity for building developers to expand their portfolios, it does come with a word of warning.
The importance of forward-thinking in building design is echoed by reporter Rachel Watson. “In a rapidly changing world, it will be more important to have a business strategy guiding all technology and workspace decisions.”
Future-proofing saves businesses the headache of having to either completely restructure their building or find new AV solutions that fit perfectly into their specific building needs.
While the idea of future-proofing may seem overwhelming, it can be simplified quite easily. “The key to winning this game is not the ability to see into the future. It is preparing, as best as possible, for any eventuality that may arise. To future-proof a building against technological development we must design and construct our buildings with flexibility, adaptability, and diversity,” states Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
In other words, don’t get overwhelmed in the little details of future-proofing a building, or trying to check off a list of best practices. Instead, focus on building a superior, productive, long-lasting building for your client. Think of what their unique industry might need in the coming years, and plan accordingly.
“You’ll need to make sure your AV system allows software updates and any additional plugins you require,” HB Communications notes. In short, AV equipment should be easy to update. Most types of technology should adapt to technological trends and changes. Yet, there’s more specific things to consider when it comes to integrating AV into a future-proofed building.
Future-Proofing Designs With AV Over IP
First and foremost, AV is a diverse field that continues to grow and change.
“Your AV tools should be selected to improve your communication capabilities with your audience, your customers both internal and external, providing time and task efficiency, encouraging consistent processes, delivering effective messaging, resulting in a positive ROI to your business operations,” says Jeff Newon, a senior account manager in commercial AV.
This is the perfect baseline when it comes to future-proofing AV technology. These considerations — efficiency and effectiveness — are evergreen.
Your clients are never going to stop looking for AV technology that gets the job done in a user-friendly way. If you’re looking to future-proof building with AV technology, focusing on these things is a great place to start.
In addition to the right AV equipment, you should also be getting the right people.
“Start your efforts at future-proofing your technology by hiring people with a pro-technology mindset,” recommends Alpha Video and Audio. This means choosing people who are tech-savvy and eager to try the latest advancements in industry innovation.
While this could be applied to the people using AV technology, it applies to the people building the structure as well.
Bruce Borgerson at AV Magazine also points out the importance of team collaboration in successful future-proofing. “Everybody involved—AV consultants, systems integrators and often the IT departments of corporate customers—must be on the same page when specifying infrastructure that can remain viable for at least five years and preferably a decade or more.”
As the building developer, you should be communicating with everyone involved from the start. This will help ensure that your building design is in line with the needs of both the client and the AV integrator.
Some might want to stick with legacy equipment. But as Maciej Kranz notes in Forbes, legacy equipment isn’t always enough in today’s digital world. Businesses will need to update infrastructure across all fronts if they want to stay ahead.
In AV, this means ditching the traditional equipment that’s largely incompatible with modern buildings. Instead, more integrators are turning to networked AV, or AV over IP, for their future-proofing needs.
All Designers Need AV over IP
AV over IP has gotten more and more popular in recent years and, according to Michael Braithwaite, is “the modern and new way of distributing AV.”
Industry conferences like InfoComm are a strong predictor of how this industry continues to expand, Commercial Integrator web editor Adam Forziati explains. Having more options for networked AV solutions gives building developers a stronger idea of what future-proofed buildings should look.
But what, exactly, is AV over IP?
“AV over IP (Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol) is the transmission of audio-visual data over a network for example WAN, LAN or the internet. In comparison to traditional AV environments, AV over IP refers to the use of standard network equipment to switch and transmit video and audio,” explains distributor CIE Group.
Because of its nature as a networked solution, it is more flexible, scalable, and easier to update than traditional AV solutions. It is easier for newcomers to learn, and can be applied to a wider range of situations. All of this makes it far easier to future-proof than traditional AV solutions.
In fact, hardware-centric AV is too static to truly adapt and flex to the future, according to Tidebreak CEO Andrew J. Milne. This is why so many AV integrators have turned to AV over IP in the first place.
AV over IP is a popular topic of conversation today, but future-proofing requires developers to ask an important question: Will AV over IP still be popular five or 10 years from now?”
Of course, the future is impossible to predict. But evidence suggests the answer to that question will be a resounding yes.
The Future of AV
People like AV over IP because its benefits are clear. While there was some concern over things like security and IT integration at the outset, those concerns have been refuted and more or less put to rest.
“So far there’s been very positive feedback from companies using the technology and this is creating a buzz in the industry,” AV provider Meritec notes.
In fact, some experts believe that offering AV over IP is essential for a future-thinking design. “Failing to offer suitable AVoIP solutions will result in integrators and integration companies marginalizing their business to a shrinking segment of the systems market,” says the team at ZeeVee.
As technology continues to grow and change, AV over IP will be not only a good idea — it will be just as necessary as a strong wifi connection. If a building hopes to be future-proofed against technological advancements, AV over IP is simply a must.