Category AV in Meeting Spaces

Putting a Bow on InfoComm 2015

Polycom video conferencing at InfoComm 2015

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The final day of InfoComm 2015, for me (and likely thousands of others), was the chance to seek out the gems I may have missed — whether hidden or hiding in plain sight — and to appreciate every section of plush, soft booth carpet under aching feet. Back at home base, the AVI-SPL booth, a number of manufacturers made 11th-hour introductions, hoping their products would be used in some of the thousands of projects we deliver for our clients each year.

Microsoft Surface Hub demo at InfoCommI saw quite a bit from AVI-SPL partners on day 3: a demo of the Microsoft Surface Hub; brilliant images shifting on an LG video wall; Polycom and its desktop video conferencing systems; Chief projector mounts; Epson image mapping; Crestron scaling systems on massive video walls; a Draper screen boom.Draper screen boom at InfoComm 2015

As soon as the show closed at 4 p.m., the booths started packing up, the electronics disconnected, and the aisle carpets were lifted to make room for the forklifts and their drivers expertly maneuvering tight turns while lightly tapping on the horn.

Epson image mapping at InfoComm 2015Crestron display at InfoComm 2015Someone announced over the intercom that this year’s event set a new attendance record of 39,500. The consensus at our booth was that AVI-SPL also had a very successful show — success measured in the parade of people who showed up to watch our demos, play our trivia game, and ask how they can benefit from partnering with a systems integrator that has been number one on the SCN Top 50 list year after year.Chief projector mounts at InfoComm 2015

To everyone that stopped by to say hello and learn more about AVI-SPL and how we work to improve the way organizations do business, thank you.

AVI-SPL booth at InfoComm 2015

Day Two at InfoComm 2015

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My knees aren’t nearly as sore as they were yesterday. Maybe that’s because they got used to all the relentless walking. Maybe I just can’t feel them anymore. In any case, my second day at InfoComm 2015 was another fruitful one. It began pre-show with a look at Sennheiser’s wireless microphones, and continued with a tour of the Microsoft, Biamp, Tannoy, and Shure booths.

The visits to Biamp, Tannoy and Shure seemed particularly fruitful for the higher education IT manager taking our Guided Technology Tour. He engaged with the booth reps, asking them specific technology questions, and shared the AV challenges in his department.

The Microsoft stop gave me a first-hand look at the new Surface Hub, the digital whiteboard/remote collaboration device for which AVI-SPL is one of the few channel partners in the U.S. and U.K. See our Microsoft Surface Hub page to learn more about this valuable tool for education and corporations, and to place an order.

At 2 p.m., I attended a talk given by John Antanaitis, VP of product and solution marketing for Polycom. John gave a look at Polycom products like its RealPresence Web Suite and RealConnect. He also offered his thoughts on a topic covered yesterday in an InfoComm panel: the workplace of the future. During his discussion, Antanaitis gave offered his advice for organizations:

  • Drive business transformation so that an organization can thrive in the workplace of the future
  • Give the mobile worker as productive an experience as someone working onsite — a quality that Antanaitis called “equitable collaboration.”

While on the exhibition floor, I made sure to snap pics of some booths I thought were well designed or eye-catching. They included:

  • Panasonic’s projection mapping across a Tesla model S
  • Stampede’s Old West-themed booth
  • The 1950s malt shop created by Yamaha

Tesla car with Panasonic projectionStampede booth at InfoComm

Yamaha booth at InfoComm 2015

Making Sense of Unified Communications at InfoComm 2015

Joe Laezza speaks at InfoComm session on Unified Communications

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In my previous post, I touched on first-day impressions of InfoComm 2015, and the ideas that emerged from a session on “Workspaces for Tomorrow.”

Now I want to recap the IMCCA meeting that followed, “UC as a Service: Has the Cloud Changed Our Sweet Spot?” The lively Simon Dudley, who accurately calls himself a Chief Contrarian, led a group of panelists that included experts from Polycom, Starleaf, Cisco, AVI-SPL, Videxio, and Blue Jeans. The session started with Simon posing a simple but thorny question: “What is unified communications?”

One response described it as video, content, audio, instant messaging, and email all brought together, which felt a bit incomplete. Another definition put it in terms of actions rather than technology: talk, connect, share, and be able to look back at what was covered. The Blue Jeans panelist provided an answer that gave context to the others: UC provides the ability to shift from any form of communication to another.

Joe Laezza, AVI-SPL SVP of UCC and Service Solutions, followed that line of thinking by asserting that UC is not a technology, but rather an application.

Other highlights from the panel:

  • Small companies can have the same collaboration tools as those used by larger ones.
  • Solutions have to suit the means of communication. I took this to mean that unified communications systems must unify those devices people prefer to use when they connect and collaborate with one another.
  • The convenience afforded by a technology surpasses any other benefit a supplier may use to convince a customer.
  • The supplier of unified communications technology is often as important as the technology itself, as clients will need ongoing support for their systems.
  • Combinations of cloud and on-premise solutions will give end users the quality and convenience they want.
  • Context and content will become more important as collaborators have multi-site video sessions between their in-person meetings.
  • Cloud-hosted UC services will become more secure than those kept on-premise.
  • Three years from now, the UC market will be dominated by a small number of video-in-the-cloud carriers. This should be a good development, as the cloud, because it removes pressure off of IT departments, is putting business decisions in the hands of business people.

Check in later today for some thoughts on day 2 of InfoComm 2015




Thoughts on the First Day at InfoComm 2015

InfoComm 2015 signage

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Well, day one of the InfoComm 2015 exhibition is in the books. This is my third year at the show, but the first time I felt my industry knowledge had grown such that I wondered if three days would be enough to take it all in as I walked the expansive, seemingly endless exhibit floor.

The north end of the hall is dominated by visual marvels in the form of huge video walls; below them, companies are eager to demonstrate all manner of collaboration solutions. I “oohed” and “aahed” at the sight of holographic objects floating in space, at a robotic base of the type used in motion rides, and at a magician who somehow made a guest’s wrist band appear within the innermost of a series of nested locked boxes. The attempt to tie in the sleight of hand with the sponsor’s products was forced and none too convincing, but at least it was entertaining and didn’t have the desperation of those who hired booth babes whose sole purpose, it seemed, was merely to scan badges.

Nothing stimulated me as much as the discussions held on the third level of the Orange County Convention Center in room 315A. There, in consecutive sessions, panels of industry experts gave their thoughts on “Workspaces for Tomorrow” and “UC as a Service.” Both of these were reflective and inward looking while also giving attendees a sense of where collaborative technologies are moving and how they are likely to affect the organizations that use them.



Workspaces for Tomorrow

David Danto, director of emerging technologies  for the IMCCA (Interactive Multimedia and Collaborative Communications Alliance), which sponsored the session, set the context by comparing the way we worked in 1985 to today. That comparison led to his observation that remote working is now the norm, and that collaborative technology affords us the ability to have the same experience of camaraderie as we do in the home office. From there, his astute panelists (including AVI-SPL‘s Danny Rogers, VP of global channels) offered their considered thoughts on the politics of onsite vs. offsite work, the need for simplicity, and how to improve work culture with collaboration tools. Below, I’ve summarized some of the salient points of the discussion:Danny Rogers speaks at IMCCA session at InfoComm 2015

  • Remote working is the norm, but we still require onsite workspaces that are easy to use, that value simplicity (because the technology supports real needs) and tie together meeting rooms, desktops, and our mobile devices
  • Some of the workspaces that we work in today and tomorrow include intelligent open spaces, quiet booths, and huddle rooms. That’s because we’re trending with simplicity, which supports flexible workflows. Think of it this way: the easier the technology is to use, the more likely we are to use systems on an as-needed basis to work through tasks.
  • Companies need to get past the mindset that if you’re not working in the office, you’re not working. As David (and others have said before), work is not where we are, but what we do. For David, that consists of being able to get out of bed and simply walking down to his basement office. Danny gave an example of his day — waking up at 5am, working for a couple of hours, getting in a workout, then spending the balance of his day on business and the occasional personal errand. This, he asserted, frees him to work much later in the day than he would if his day were dictated entirely by a 9-to-5 office schedule.
  • Technology advances have freed us up to work together on an ad hoc basis, and are supporting our need to create ideas together.
  • One attendee noted the idea that being able to leave the office to work can replace a sense of team with the concept of employees as commodities. But as the panelist from Acano noted, “culture trumps technology.” And while changing a company culture can take time, if the culture embraces collaborative technology, people can feel they are indeed part of a team.
  • Danny, who works primarily from the U.K., noted how close he felt to someone from Florida with whom he had only ever communicated with over video for two years.
  • Working remotely emphasizes the need to deliver results. Once management understands that its people aren’t working eight hours straight, they can focus on what’s important — results.
  • Collaborative technology does not replace, but rather augments the in-person meeting. It fills in the gaps to keep people and groups connected so that items can be addressed before the next meeting at a common, physical location.
  • When it comes to working in the office, we want to bring our preferred devices to collaborate. That’s because, as Danny noted, the consumer and consumer technology are driving business change.
  • Understand where you want to improve work operations and don’t be afraid to make mistakes with technology. Be an advocate of change, and find the tools that overcome hurdles.
  • Recommendation for companies: Simplify what you already have — bring together audio, video and the web. Experiences need to be easy to use and applicable to every environment.

That concept of “unification” of technology is a satisfactory segue into the session that followed on unified communications. Please check in with this AVI-SPL blog on June 18, when I will review the takeaways from that talk, which featured experts from Polycom, Cisco, and AVI-SPL, among others.

Tour Microsoft at InfoComm

From Wednesday through Friday of this week, AVI-SPL is leading guests on a tour of high-profile manufacturers at InfoComm. We’re doing this so that business representatives can see firsthand the latest products being offered to improve the way organizations operate. It’s also a chance to ask questions and understand the important role AVI-SPL plays in bringing different technology tools together so they form valuable solutions.

Our Guided Technology Tour includes:

  • Microsoft
  • Polycom
  • Biamp
  • Crestron
  • Shure
  • Chief
  • Draper
  • Tannoy
  • Sony
  • LG
  • Barco

If you’ll be at InfoComm, sign up for the tour. And stop by our booth, #2579, and speak to our experts. You can also contact us at 866-559-8197 or