The AV industry evolves at a rapid pace, with a steady supply of trends in the commercial and residential spaces providing new revenue opportunities for integrators and guiding product development for manufacturers.
The rise of video over IP solutions to meet the growing need for cost-effective video distribution in a wide range of applications is a perfect example. But the COVID-19 era has thrown the industry a curveball. Whether for work or recreation, AV technology is helping us adapt and cope with our new circumstances. As a result, some existing AV trends have accelerated to the forefront.
We’ll look at four of them here and explore the opportunities and challenges they provide for Video Over IP providers.
Home Entertainment Using Video Over IP
Many of us spent the better part of 2020 at home, and we can expect to remain there for at least part of 2021. Without the option of going to a movie, taking in a concert, attending a sporting event, or traveling on vacation, it’s no surprise that homeowners are investing in making their lives at home more enjoyable. For many, that starts with updating their entertainment systems.
In otherwise tough economic times, this trend has been a boon for integrators and has led to greater demand for cost-effective Video Over IP solutions in multi-room installations. This also creates opportunities for manufacturers to provide products that can be installed quickly without the need for networking qualifications, while offering seamless integration with control systems.
Videoconferencing and the Hybrid Workplace
Of course, entertainment has only been one aspect of life at home. With many of us now effectively remote employees, working for home (WFH) has been another. This has put the advantages of videoconferencing – including reduced travel time and expenses – squarely in the spotlight. When we “return” to the office, many companies will want to continue reaping these benefits, which will lead to an increased demand for commercial AV presentation products.
But not all of us will return, at least not completely. The majority of workers want a hybrid workplace post-COVID, where they split their time between the home and office. Employers are keen on the idea too, as it has been shown to lower costs and increase productivity. In this mixed model office, videoconferencing will continue to play a pivotal role.
The videoconferencing trend is providing huge revenue opportunities for integrators in both the commercial and residential spaces, not the least of which is the necessity to perform updates to network infrastructure. For Video Over IP manufacturers, however, it poses a number of challenges related to integration. To be effective, solutions need to interface with software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting; mobile devices; and USB equipment like cameras and microphones. As hybrid workplaces become more common, providing this level of integration will need to be a major area of focus.
Video Over IP and Digital Signage
COVID-19 has been particularly rough on non-essential businesses. If not closed entirely, restaurants have at times been reduced to take-out only, while retailers have often had to eke it out with curbside pick-up. However, many businesses with the resources to weather the storm have taken advantage of the downtime to upgrade their facilities in anticipation of an eventual reopening. For retailers, one of the most common enhancements has been adding digital signage to their facilities, or increasing the scope of their existing systems.
While we continue to ride out the crisis, digital signage displays offer businesses an easy way to keep customers informed with the most up-to-date information on store policies and provide attention-grabbing reminders to wear masks and keep noses covered. Of course, the same displays can be used to showcase promotions and other store-related content. And as with the residential space, this is leading to an increased demand for cost-effective Video Over IP solutions that are simple to install and easy to integrate with control systems.
The demand for remote management technologies in the AV space has risen steadily over the last few years. After all, truck rolls are expensive for integrators, and customers don’t appreciate system downtime. With most devices in the home being network-capable, it only makes sense that simple tasks such as rebooting locked-up components, performing updates, and device configuration be carried out remotely. This lowers costs for integrators and leads to a more satisfying experience for customers.
In the COVID era, however, remote management has begun to look more like a necessity than a convenience. When you can’t enter a customer’s home to perform basic maintenance, there are few – if any – alternatives. So integrators have come to rely on this technology and are looking for it in a wider range of systems, including video distribution. This is another area of opportunity for Video Over IP manufacturers. An added user benefit, where vendors can go even further is by providing data, such as the power consumption of connected sources, displays, and other equipment.
None of the trends discussed here are new to the AV industry, but as a result of COVID-19, they have taken on increased importance across the commercial and residential spaces – with Video Over IP solutions playing a key role in each segment. At a minimum, manufacturers need to ensure that their solutions are as simple as possible to install and integrate easily with control systems. But to truly meet the needs of integrators, they will need to go further – integrating with software and other devices and working with remote management technologies. Challenge brings opportunity, and by paying attention to these requirements now, Video Over IP providers can seize theirs.