Another Year of Telling AV’s Story

By Brad Grimes, AVIXA

I write this 39,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, heading back to AVIXA HQ from a conference in London (where I messaged AV Nation patriarch Tim Albright from the shadows of a scaffolded Big Ben). The conference was for executives and operators of sports venues and the teams that occupy them. AVIXA was proud to take part and to deliver a message to conference attendees that audiovisual solutions can have a positive impact on their businesses, through greater fan engagement and more.

And it wasn’t just me saying it. I was pleased to deliver the message along with Lisa Knights, who is the Group Head of Communications for Ashton Gate Stadium, where they’ve seen really great results from building one of the U.K.’s biggest pub videowalls, among other AV experiences, to engage fans—inside and outside the stadium. Phil McGowan, curator at the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham Stadium, talked about how the museum has introduced a slew of new AV installations, with a goal of building relationships with fans that extend beyond the games themselves. George Vaughn, Head of Technology for Ascot Racecourse, emphasized the importance of using AV technology to create a more engaging race-day experience; after all, a typical day of horse races includes only, on average, 20-plus minutes of “action.”

Earlier this fall, I was fortunate to be at a retail design conference in Seattle. More and more, retail stores are fighting back against online shopping by creating engaging experiences that customers only get in the brick-and-mortar world. In Seattle, AVIXA was joined by Rebekah Sigfrids, Vice President of Store Design for Sephora; Angela Gearhart, Vice President of Brand Experience for Sleep Number; and Robyn Novak, Vice President of FRCH Design Worldwide, which does designs for The Container Store. Each has overseen cool implementations of AV in retail stores and was eager to share her experiences with peers on behalf of AVIXA and the AV industry.

Meeting smart, creative people who will advocate on our industry’s behalf—on your behalf—has been one of my greatest blessings the last couple of years. AVIXA has dedicated itself to growing the market for what you do by going where your potential customers congregate and evangelizing about the impact of AV solutions in venues, stores, hotels, banks, transportation hubs, classrooms, and more. Almost without exception, the people we meet in these markets have bought into the overall experience economy. And even if they have not already considered the role of AV in those experiences, they quickly understand its potential.

Their reservations, when they have them? They worry about keeping pace with technological change, and, frankly, ensuring stuff works. Oh, and they know that content will be king of many solutions, but many aren’t content experts—creators or curators. They’re looking for trusted partners who will listen to their needs and propose engaging, integrated solutions that work. They don’t know what they don’t know but enjoy learning what’s possible. Some are concerned about ROI, though the majority appreciate the risk of not investing in the AV technologies that have come to define our modern human experience.

At InfoComm 2018, I got to spend time with Marriott’s VP of Design. He even took part in the show’s Center Stage. It was his first InfoComm show, and he was blown away. Let’s face it: Lots of what this industry creates has to be seen and heard to be believed. Our paths crossed again in Seattle (he was once a retail designer) and he was talking about ways of demonstrating to his bosses how more AV technology could be integrated across Marriott’s many brands. Take whichever side you want on the question of end users (customers) at InfoComm, I believe hosting people like Marriott’s David Kepron forms the basis for a collaborative relationship between our industries that benefits everyone—including visitors to Marriott’s various properties (like my family).

We call this AVIXA’s industry awareness effort, initiated by our Board of Directors, and carried out by a group I’m lucky to be part of. With the days getting shorter and colder, I appreciate the chance to reflect on some of the year’s highlights. Like the overflow crowd at a conference session for airport executives who came to hear about AV projects at LAX and Changi Airport in Singapore or the executive from a firm called Wildbytes who showed retailers projection-mapping on the moving face of a Sephora model (see if you can find it on YouTube—wow). Or the busy executives from the San Francisco 49ers, NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Red Wings, and others, who took time out of their busy schedules to sit down and make the case that audiovisual experiences were critical to their future success (check out some of the video at www.avixa.org/sportsAV).

To say nothing of use cases like Bank of America’s innovative deployment of in-branch videoconferencing to connect customers with financial advisors. Like retail stores, bank branches are seeing something of a renaissance thanks to technology and a focus on experiences. These are exciting times for the AV industry—our long and important time in the spotlight. The personal computer was great; the Internet still is, but you gotta be careful out there. Now’s the time for pervasive digital signage, immersive audio, augmented reality, video collaboration, huge screens, talking to handheld screens, esports, and engaging video projection on, well, anything. More and new customers are awakening to the possibilities of AV solutions precisely because AV is for experiencing; and in so many markets today, the experience is currency.

We’ve still got a few more opportunities this year to bring the message to markets that could be investing more in AV to reach their goals. Want to be part of the story? Reach out. The more voices the better.

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