Cloud based management services from manufacturers, integrators and service providers are quickly becoming essential, where AV equipment is connected to the cloud. They give early evidence of a problem, allowing for configuration or problem resolution. Even user support – the equivalent of the Staples’ “HELP” button on a control panel – makes access from the user to a service desk somewhere in the cloud no more than a button push away.
At the same time, there are certain practical realities that must be factored if you invest in connecting AV to the cloud to improve service and support. Too few AV devices really allow for remote anything – connected to the cloud or not. If you want to take advantage of the cloud for managing equipment, be sure your design considers what equipment supports it and how.
IoT is a promising approach and touted by many AV manufacturers. Look beyond the marketing and hype to understand exactly what the capabilities and benefits are. While promising, many of the benefits are not there today. Consider when in your solution and technology roadmap such emerging technologies apply.
By changing how AV systems are conceived and designed to take advantage of cloud management and support services, there can be a fundamental increase in how these technologies are valued in an organization – with fewer problems and easy access to help when needed.
Nothing related to any of these applications should be in the cloud or connected to it unless you have thought it through.
Your risks don’t disappear just because you decide, instead of building and operating services yourself, that your company will move to a cloud solution and connect with it. There can be many advantages and, if implemented properly, fewer risks. But consider each of the following and verify to your satisfaction (as well as any applicable compliance requirements, either regulatory or corporate governance) that such plans avoid unexpected risks.
Your data. Make sure your data will remain your data. Understand with any cloud provider that you are moving data to, or connecting your equipment to, that any information, configuration, or other aspects of your business dealings are secured, protected and in no way usable by the provider.
Your security. Don’t pass off any obligation to ensure your business, information, and your people, are protected when you are in the cloud or connected to it. Even where the provider offers all the right security and compliance measures, if they drop the ball it’s still you that is impacted. So before you make any move, be sure to assess risk – determine the benefits vs. risk associated with each service, or for any connections you make to it. Based on that risk profile, develop appropriate recovery and continuity measures. If the benefits are not clear or if there’s no appropriate recovery should something occur, take stock whether this is a good idea or not.
It’s telling in the first place that we still separate AV and IT equipment when the topic of cloud is discussed. This says a lot about the current state of the AV industry. AV is changing slowly, but it is changing. AV equipment providers would be well served to embrace the cloud by adopting many of the standards that allow for easier integration with other devices and cloud services. Unfortunately, for many, that is not currently the case. When choosing an integrator, ensure the firm is equipped to connect AV devices to the cloud if that is your aim.
The unassailable truth remains that technology which can be better delivered as a service becomes one – from dial tone, to networks, now messaging and collaboration. AV manufacturers, to keep pace, will make it easy to connect to the cloud and provide more integrated services with it. For now, companies will do well to consider which AV equipment to connect and why, and work with the right integration firm to realize their vision.