How To Support Business’s Increasing Reliance On AV and Workplace Technologies

We live in a changing world and from a business perspective, the absence of physical face to face contact has seen a rapid uptake in Audio Visual (AV) based collaboration, communication and operations.

But behind the scenes, these bandwidth-hungry applications require robust, stable infrastructure to work reliably and as intended, at scale.

Whether you are planning to retro-fit an existing office space or are designing the layout to accommodate a new build, in order to ensure a reliable AV infrastructure design, you must first consider the various AV touch points in an office environment, in addition to the implications for remote working.

IT INFRASTRUCTURE

AV relies heavily on IT Infrastructure with hardware increasingly located inside purpose-built Data Centres and on-premise comms rooms. Video, audio, and control signal transmission is standardising on traditional ethernet Category cable. The integrity of IT infrastructure, i.e.: your structured cabling, especially the Category cable, therefore, becomes a critical element in the reliability of AV platforms. Whilst cabling is usually manufactured to minimum relevant standards, it would be prudent to consider higher performing cabling specifications with adequate headroom in order to accommodate the increased bandwidth requirements that can stress the integrity of lower specification cable.

UC&C

Tools for enhancing unified communication and collaboration now have a core reliance on AV. Video conferencing, audio conferencing, presentation, and digital whiteboard technology are traditional components. Tie-ins to email, calendars, scheduling and unified messaging have only increased the usage and effectiveness of UC&C.

END USER TECHNOLOGY

AV systems utilise End User Technology elements such as Desktops, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, and Mobile Devices as primary sources for displaying content. The constantly evolving market for consumer electronics requires the flexibility to support a wide variety of devices, which in turn places additional load on the infrastructure.

BRANDING & MESSAGING

AV technology enables the distribution and display of corporate communications. Using digital signage, LED walls, and interactive kiosks allows organisations to continue growing their brand and easily reach employees and clients.

LIFE SAFETY

Remote Monitoring, Security Systems, Paging, Sound Masking, Environmental Controls, and other Life Safety solutions are dependent on AV systems in order to maximise their effectiveness.   

MEP

Mechanical, Electrician and Plumbing design provides key pieces for Audio Visual. Understanding power load requirements, heating and cooling needs, and structural components ensures systems are installed, operated and maintained properly.  

AUDIO VISUAL PROJECT LIFECYCLE

As specialist consultants in the area of digital workplace strategy, our approach to the AV Project Lifecycle provides an opportunity for involvement from the earliest stages of engagement through to Day 2 Operations and ongoing support.

Each phase within the lifecycle is comprised of strategic activities and deliverables that help shape and define the next subsequent phases and achieve the overall desired project objectives.  

 The following diagram shows the various phases of the Audio Visual Project Lifecycle:

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VISIONING

The visioning phase involves analysis of the current state scenario and provisions for Information Gathering in conjunction with a thorough Needs Analysis exercise.

These elements can be summarised as follows:

Information Gathering

Perform a current technology assessment – during this exercise, our aim is to identify all the existing technology solutions that play a part in the workplace environment.

In this phase we:

·      Create a High-Level Project Timeline

·      Assemble a Technology Requirements Summary

·      Establish a preliminary Budget for the project

Needs Analysis & Use Cases

Needs Analysis – it is prudent to perform what is known as a “Voice of the Customer” or VoC exercise. This is where collaboration takes place with key staff, product owners, line of business leaders, etc. to establish technology requirements for AV in the workplace. VoCs reveal activity-based and use case information that is used to determine space and technology requirements.

The combination of VoC results and workspace aspirations drive your needs analysis.

Use Cases – Collaboration modes and profiles help shape the future AV and technology landscape of the company. Use Case reviews should be created for each type of space utilised. Specific technologies are then associated with each space or use case; this drives the overall AV technology strategy.

PRE-CONCEPT DESIGN – ROADMAP CREATION

During this phase, we look at  creating the Roadmap for the long-term AV and technology implementation plan.

Based on the foundational Current State Assessment it is good practice to undertake Technology Comparisons through an Industry Trends Analysis exercise – reviewing current industry trends is an effective method for benchmarking against your requirements and shaping the roadmap.

At this point, it is an appropriate time to develop, refine and document the organisation’s AV and technology standards.

SCHEMATIC DESIGN – DESIGN POC

Proof of Concepts are recommended for new AV technologies being introduced as part of a proposed design or that have been included in an overall workplace technology roadmap.

Proof of Concept Recommendations and objectives:

·      “What if?” scenarios should be discussed and incorporated into the AV / Technology design

·      From a project management perspective, coordination with other vendors will ensure the smooth and timely delivery of project outputs for the POC and project major

·      Identify any potential A/V specific challenges

CONSTRUCTION OVERSIGHT – BUILD OUT AND INTEGRATION

The next major phase in the process is to build and integrate the new AV or workplace technology solution – this falls under the category of Procurement and Sourcing.

The main areas that require management, facilitation and coordination are:

·      Construction administration and oversight – this includes the issuing of RFI/RFQ/RFP programs

·      Punch List creation and management i.e.: identifying non-conformance to specification and areas that require attention prior to sign-off at the conclusion of key project milestones                                                                                     

·      Implementations, Configurations and Build-outs – These activities demand tight coordination with multiple trades to facilitate the full technology lifecycle Design/Build process

·      Construction Oversight – Requires the ongoing budget management of the project, the final commissioning and also the acceptance checklist

DAY 2 OPERATIONS & SUPPORT

In order to achieve the greatest ROI from a new AV or workplace technology solution, it is crucial to implement a Technology driven approach for SLAs, leveraging Remote Monitoring and Support Tools.

Digital workflow for general requests, Incident handling, maintenance forms, trouble tickets, and support requests will create efficiency and “process” around supporting and preserving the solution’s optimisation.

Completion Checklists –

The development of Design Standards and SOPs should be undertaken in order to  streamline processes for continued scalability.

Best practice dictates that scheduled periodic reviews should be a key component of Day 2 support. These periodic reviews can be achieved efficiently through the VoC process described earlier.

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As you can see, there are many moving parts to consider when looking to effectively implement any AV or general workplace technology strategy. Of course, you have the option of employing some basic apps in isolation but these often stress infrastructure and do not have the right levels of governance or security for many corporate / enterprise protocols. They are often at best, “band-aid” or “make do” tools, rather than properly integrated solutions that work seamlessly with the underlying infrastructure and in line with corporate standards.

Whilst it may appear complex in the first instance, employing an experienced workplace consultant who specialises in streamlining the process and facilitating rapid execution will contribute greatly to achieving a robust AV / technology platform that will return maximum ROI.  

It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated – just reach out and ask us how it can be achieved.

We can help!

About the Author

Rick Duckworth is Principal Consultant in the Australian practice of CS Technology where he specialises in understanding client needs and business outcomes.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here on the 30th October 2020. 

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