The conversation of Audiovisuals and Information Technology (AV/IT) is nothing new to the industry. There is a consistent debate of which products are truly displaying AV/IT convergence. Then there is the debate of AV and IT departments, who does what, who gives the approval to put devices on a network, etc. The debates continue as technology continues to evolve. AV Technology has stepped to the plate to lead this industry discussion of AV/IT convergence by hosting the AV/IT Summit. The summit has been held in New York, San Diego and most recently in Denver this past week.
I first found out about the AV/IT Summit when a picture came across my twitter timeline of Margot Douaihy - Editorial Director, AV Technology, EDUwire, and Tech Manager Today, Cindy Davis -Contributing Editor of AV Technology and Paul Zielie sailing in San Diego hashtagged with #AVITSummit. I thought to myself, what the heck is the AV/IT Summit and how do I get to have this much fun on a sail boat with these awesome individuals. Margot and I go on to have a small conversation and from that moment on I made it a goal of mine to attend the next AV/IT Summit, with or without the sail boat.
To attend the AV/IT Summit you have to qualify for an invite. The host knows their audience and has strategically found a way to cater directly to that audience. I submitted my information and I was one of the 75 qualified to receive an invitation to the summit. I arrived in Denver on Tuesday, August 2nd to make sure I was able to attend the first event of the summit, which was a meet up at the bar at the Grand Hyatt host hotel. Who wants to miss a meet up at the bar? Not me. So I made my way down stairs and was greeted by some of my favorite #AVtweeps (audiovisual twitter peeps) Margot Douaihy and Justin Rexing. While chatting with them I quickly grabbed a beer and began to work the room. This part of the event was designed for all attendee's to meet the AV Technology team face to face and not only get to know other attendees but the presenters that will be speaking over the next few days. I enjoyed my time fireside with food and drinks as I introduced myself to some new face and took the time to get acquainted with my peers.
The next morning I was excited and ready to kick off the summit. Mike Walker, Research Director and an author of Gartner’s Hype Cycle opened up a can of inspiration with his keynote. " Emerging technologies are a source of inspiration, not the solution," Walker stated as he walked us through the Gartner Hype Cycle. As well as some mega trends that will make a tremendous impact on organizations in and out the industry, and how we distinguish hype from reality.
Next up was the panel that probably had the most anticipation behind it, "As a Service". This panel consisted of the Paul Zielie – Manager of Enterprise Solutions at Harman Professional, Mark Taylor – Principal Technology Manager at Microsoft Corporation, Justin Rexing - AV Design Engineer at Western Kentucky University, Wes Hatchett – CEO of Control Envy, and was moderated by Cindy Davis.
"As a Service" is by far one of the most popular topics in the industry outside of the Internet of Things (IoT) and AV/IT. Here each panelist spoke to what a service shift looks like for both AV and IT departments and how it affects a whole organization. Proactivity drove the discussion, Paul Zielie lead by stating "In a properly run service delivery framework, everything is reactive, but it looks proactive.” This made the room laugh but we all knew how true this statement was. Mark Taylor went further to say "You can’t expect someone to sit & stare at a dashboard all day long waiting for an alert to bubble up." Each panelist is within a different playing field of the industry, but everyone came together beautifully on this panel and presented some great takeaways.
The rest of the day was filled with AV/IT Talks, which were quick 10-minute talks focused on specific subjects such as the digital canvas, and AV/IT security. Day 2 was structured pretty much the same but the day began with a profound panel session. Craig Park – Principal at The Sextant Group and Julie Johnston – Director of Learning Spaces, University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University shared the stage with Margot Douaihy as moderator to talk active learning classrooms. Craig Park walked us through history "for over 110 years we’ve been teaching with a projector and a wall." says Park "It's more important to plan for the connectivity infrastructure than what projector is on the ceiling." Then Julie took us directly into the future by showcasing the classrooms designed by her and her team at Indiana University. "It has to be beautiful & functional" she stated. These classrooms and work spaces were well ahead of many universities we had seen over the last few days, and Julie took us into some of the strategies she works in place at her campuses.
The biggest highlight for me on this trip was the lunch breakout tables. Each table was numbered and on the back of the event badges, each attendee had a personal itinerary. Within this designed literary your lunch table was dictated by the information you filled out to qualify for an invitation to the summit. My table had 7 guys and myself, each table was supposed to have a topic lead by a table leader. But I took this opportunity to just ask questions and get to know everyone, I literally didn't let anyone sit silently. I asked questions and asked for answers from everyone. The connections made at those tables during lunch were one of the most valuable parts of the summit for me. Everybody shared brief case studies on what they're doing on their campuses, what tech they would like to see implemented in the future (which was based on the inspiration from the Mike keynote). They all shared great advice on how they hire, what they look for in the process of adding to their teams and how passion can take you further than any degree. The conversation was so rich, and I will never forget any of those guys sitting, and eating the outstanding lunch with me.
If you're an AV/IT technology manager, director, or employed by institutions, and facilities. You need to be on the look out for the next AV/IT Summit and be there. There is little to no excuse not to submit your information and see if you qualify for an invite. The AV Technology team provides great hospitality to anyone attending. If you're coming from out-of-town the team takes care of your 2-day stay, including food, and drinks. You do have to take care of your own air fare, but as a person who has invested my time and money into attending, it's well worth the investment. The AV/IT Summit is leading the industry into a space where AV/IT is taken beyond just a conversation and put into real world implementations. I plan on attending the next AV/IT Summit which is geared to take place back in New York city. Here are the full details on the upcoming AV/IT Summit.
If you have attended the AV/IT Summit in any city, share your key takeaways. I'd love to hear about your experience.