The convergence between the AV and IT worlds garners a significant amount of buzz in the AV industry, and the buzz is entirely warranted. However, there is very little buzz about the convergence of the AV industry with another large and fast-moving industry, and this other convergence may significantly impact the way AV integrators and manufacturers do business in the years to come.
Wait, there’s another convergence going on? Yes, the AV Integration industry is converging with the Commercial Interiors industry. Commercial Interiors manufacturers and dealers around the country have an increasing awareness of and appreciation for integrating technology into their space designs, in coordination with the Architect & Design (A&D) community that they are closely tied to. Commercial Interiors manufacturers like Steelcase, Herman Miller, Knoll and others are taking a deeper interest in how they can incorporate technologies to better support how we work in a variety of environments. And AV Integrators are working closer than ever with the design community to ensure highly functional, aesthetic, holistically-designed technology environments.
What is driving this convergence? AV technologies are no longer the sole purview of AV manufacturers. Commercial furniture manufacturers have now taken a more holistic view of their products as well as how they support and integrate with our ever-growing use of technology in the workplace. Commercial Furniture manufacturers cross into all commercial verticals, driving trends that change how we utilize space & technology in the traditional office, healthcare, learning and any number of other environments we live and work in on a daily basis. With the growth of informal Huddle Space meeting environments, for example, we have seen this trend cross over between the AV and Furniture worlds, with a demand for highly integrated, aesthetic solutions. Additionally, Commercial Interiors Dealers, driven by their close relationship with the A&D community, place a premium on aesthetic, user-friendly AV solutions. AV Integrators are similarly driving this trend, focusing more and more on building regional partnerships with Commercial Interiors Dealers to get into projects sooner and ensure AV isn’t a last-minute element of a project design.
What can AV manufacturers, AV integrators, Commercial Furniture manufacturers & dealers do to realize this opportunity? Cross-industry relationships and partnerships between AV Integrators and Commercial Interiors Dealers will become increasingly common in the years ahead. Projects of the future will more commonly involve AV Integrators to accommodate the more complex IT needs of their customers in addition to the AV solutions they’ve typically provided. Additionally, they’ll also need to more closely coordinate on the design requirements with Commercial Interiors Dealers that typically are involved in projects at an earlier phase due to their A&D relationships. It is going to be increasingly important for all parties involved to work hand-in-hand to ensure space designs accommodate the end-to-end technology needs of their customers. Collaborating more fully with the Architects and Designers at a very early phase of the project will be increasingly important to seamless integration of the AV, IT and other supporting technologies.
Is this convergence already taking place? Yes, absolutely. In the past couple of years, some of the largest and most forward-looking Commercial Interiors Dealers and AV Integrators around the country have built strong partnerships together to support this convergence, and drive its success.
Some of the notable Commercial Interior Dealers that have taken this one step further, either acquiring or building out their own AV Integration arms, include Red Thread in New England, One Workplace in the Bay Area, Intereum in the Twin Cities, and various others. As Commercial Interiors Dealers and their internal design teams further their holistic approach to space design, their reach will only naturally expand to cover the various technologies that are integrated into those environments. Thus, AV Integrators and Commercial Interiors Dealers are both best served by actively building and investing in these relationships & partnering to support this trend.
And what about AV Manufacturers? Just as significantly, AV manufacturers should be aware of the increasing demands for a more holistic space design approach being driven by the A&D community. A more integrated solutions-focused approach will be important to win in this converged world, with a greater focus on aesthetic design elements. Closer collaboration with complementary product manufacturers, to ensure a cohesive User Experience, will also be critical. And as space designs are fleshed out very early on in the project lifecycle, with the A&D community leading the charge, strong relationships in the A&D community to ensure product adoption will be increasingly necessary.