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“100% of Innovations’ customers rate their technical knowledge as excellent”
(Customer survey, 2010)


4th October 2011

Unified Communications - what does it mean for the AV sector?

A unified Europe, unified currencies, unified laws..... coming together and converging for a greater good is nothing new but what about the growing convergence between IT and audio visual? The lines between these two sectors are blurring as companies increasingly look to their IT suppliers to provide them with a total solution that incorporates AV with other forms of communication. Many simply want to achieve more favourable procurement so do a deal for the latest HD projectors alongside the latest batch of smartphones and laptops. Others want a complete unified solution under the IT umbrella. Does this mean there is no longer a role for AV suppliers?

Andy Russell, Director of Innovations does not believe so, “Change is inevitable in our industry, we have always had to be responsive and we have always had to keep abreast of developments. The shape of the sector is changing fast, products have become commoditised and people can often buy them online more cheaply than we can supply them. Our business is based on the services and technical expertise we can provide.”

In order to adapt and survive, AV companies will have to get to grips with the latest technology; they will have to be totally focused on applications and markets rather than simply selling products. The IT guys are interested in a standard platform, systems that can be smoothly integrated and interoperated with existing systems. AV professionals will have to take on a lot more of the IT skill set.

Innovations is already well placed with an ongoing training programme that ensures technicians are fully up to date with the latest technologies and able to facilitate the integration of the AV systems with the wider IT platforms.

“We do not simply install products, we provide solutions. The client tells us what they want to achieve and we specify and configure a system that is easy to use, reliable and works with existing systems on site,” said Andy Russell.

“It is vital to work with the IT guys to provide solutions for the wider organisation. If you are going into discussions with a potential customer planning to sell a particular product, you are not going to be successful. You have to go in with a clean sheet of paper and listen to what they want to achieve. Only then, do you understand what products might be appropriate for the installation.”

There is some nervousness in the AV sector that it will be taken over by IT companies and there is already some evidence of this with the news this summer that Lifesize, a video conferencing manufacturer has replaced its AV distributors in the UK with an IT distributor. Many believe that such IT providers will try to create their own AV divisions. This could lead to mergers and takeovers in the sector in order to try to bring in the technical capabilities of a specialist AV market.

So is it the end of the road for independent AV providers? Andy Russell says “I think there will be a lot of opportunities for AV companies in the future as long as, like Innovations, they are focused on delivering solutions and excellent services rather than simply shifting boxes of product. They will really need to add value and earn their place as part of the IT solution.”

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