Both integrators and end users are becoming more familiar with AV-over-IP (AVoIP) solutions. However, there’s still a large portion of our industry not implementing AVoIP. From an AV perspective, the initial thought of adding IT can be extremely daunting. I remember my own first touchpoint with an AVoIP solution. Honestly, it wasn’t until I started approaching the overall design with a basic signal-flow mindset that things began to click. AV and IT teams must work through bandwidth concerns, terminological barriers and a general communication gap, all of which make it hard to wrap our minds around implementing AVoIP solutions.
In 2020, CE Pro‘s sister publication Commercial Integrator surveyed the integration community and sought to evaluate AVoIP as it applies to our industry. Nearly 56% of respondents marked a lack of networking and IT knowledge among staff as the number-one barrier to integrating AV-over-IP solutions. Some 43% of respondents mentioned a lack of staff experience integrating AVoIP equipment. Meanwhile, 38% pointed to a lack of understanding of different standards as a barrier to integrating AVoIP solutions.
Without a doubt, the world has changed a great deal since 2020. I believe that, likewise, we’ve seen a change in how the majority of our industry views AVoIP. So, how can integration teams expand their knowledge base and grow more confident in AV-over-IP solutions? By making the time investment and embracing this fact: The AV/IT convergence is here to stay.
Manufacturer Training for AV-over-IP
As the saying goes, most people miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work. Let’s get to work, people! Want to learn more about AVoIP? Well, you should utilize the tools that are right in front of you! The internet is one of the greatest tools ever created. Many manufacturers have free online training. Set up your team for success by requiring its members to go through these trainings. Hold each other accountable to gain knowledge of the most widely adopted AVoIP solutions.
For example, Audinate’s Dante certifications, from Level 1 through 3, are recognized around the world. Obtaining all three certifications sets your team apart, providing a solid foundation to begin implementing Dante AV-over-IP systems. QSC training is also recognized extensively across the world, and it’s free. If you pair these manufacturer trainings with NETGEAR Academy, it not only empowers your team to be more self-sufficient but also provides the skills to equip your firm for the challenges of today’s networking-centric world.
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General information can also be found in technical documents, case studies, whitepapers, company webinars and YouTube videos. Many manufacturers are now leveraging video content that provides general information to help guide integrators and end users toward success. My two personal favorite YouTube channels are BZB TV and HowToAV.tv.
Hands-On Training Options
Making all forms of technical training available to your team should be a high-priority initiative for managers and executive leadership alike. Technology is constantly evolving; so, too, is the way end users use their spaces. Thus, we should evolve, too. Training can be the driving force to keep team members growing and prospering in their individual careers. That growth, then, can lead to less turnover. COVID-19 threw a wrench into a lot of hands-on training, especially with many of these trainings usually held at large trade shows. But there are alternatives. Manufacturers are getting back on the road and attending regional shows, as well as hosting training for teams directly in their offices.
You might be surprised by the answer you receive from a manufacturer if you simply ask for a “lunch and learn” or a hands-on training. I believe that all parties are starting to see the value that hands-on training provides; accordingly, I predict we’ll see more of these coming back this year.
But, in the meantime, invest in your team. Take the online training and couple it with building out systems in the office or warehouse. Many teams already build racks before going into an install. Take that same approach when it comes to AVoIP solutions. Grow your team’s confidence by building out AVoIP systems in-house before bringing them to your clients. Practice makes perfect!
And I get it: Time is of the essence. But the initial upfront time investment saves minutes (or days) when you go to deploy a client’s system. Building systems in-house is a proactive method that sets up teams to succeed before they ever touch a jobsite. And, if time is still an issue, partner! NETGEAR, as one example, has a free service and will design the network infrastructure for you. Leverage industry resources, leverage partnerships, and wake up and smell the coffee! Don’t miss an opportunity because you’re scared to embrace new ways of deploying AV systems.