Cisco Live is a popular digital education and networking event providing a platform for technology innovators to collaborate, discuss the future of IT and explore the latest industry solutions. The most recent edition of the five-day conference – held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas in late June – was the largest yet.
As an event dominated by IT rather than AV professionals, we were able to meet a diverse group of individuals with varying levels of audio knowledge and familiarity with the Shure brand. This encouraged constructive conversations enabling us to better understand and appreciate the differences in our respective technical languages.
AV and IT Converge
During the past five years, we’ve observed an increasing convergence between audio-visual and information technology. Conversations with our customers now frequently include a company’s IT director, who also leads its AV department. Cisco Live provided us an opportunity to discover the specific concerns and project priorities of IT managers. After they learned Shure is a Cisco Solution Partner, offering networked conferencing products integrating seamlessly with Cisco codecs, our technology differences quickly faded. We ceased being experts from two different industries talking past each other and simply became technology professionals working towards the same goals: system operability, user experience and user satisfaction.
Participating at Cisco Live reaffirmed the importance of adopting the language of IT in future collateral, training and product design tools. In order to bridge the AV/IT gap, IT managers need to better understand how to administer networked devices, whether it be a codec or AV hardware. Once a product requires an IP address, connectivity, network security and bandwidth are stacked on top of installation and configuration considerations. The conversation is no longer about “component signal flow,” but rather “network access” and “device management.” Where audio quality is the AV director’s top priority, the IT director is more concerned with how a device can operate safely and effectively in a corporate environment.
Once we’ve achieved an effective channel of communication, we can then demonstrate the benefits of design, feature-sets and the business advantages of our conferencing equipment. This dialogue is key to ensuring AV/IT convergence and confidence in the technology being implemented.
The Need for Quality Audio
Cisco Live US gave us a great opportunity to demonstrate the importance of high-quality audio – and what this actually sounds like. By having the IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor at the booth, we could show IT managers how a fixed architecture UI saves time and therefore money on installation, positively affecting their AV/IT budget. The ability to demonstrate, educate and share product knowledge with these customers is crucial to our mission.
Of course, Shure doesn’t just offer conferencing hardware and many conversations at the event often led to the topic of software, particularly our SystemOn Audio Asset Management Software. This can track battery life, audio levels and RF/spectrum status in real-time while enabling IT and AV technicians to monitor and control Shure hardware devices remotely. This means less conferencing error or meeting disruption and is a direct cost-saver for the IT department.
Many visitors were interested in licensing, subscription models and other practical issues – again highlighting how considerations between IT professionals and traditional AV customers differ. It also shows how we must respond to these different needs. This opened the door for even broader dialogue on firmware updates, network security and how to address closed networks when implementing system upgrades.
This was the first time Shure has attended a Cisco Live event in the US, and it was certainly a beneficial experience. Although Shure isn’t a brand all IT professionals will immediately believe relevant to their business, our range of networked products soon made clear our commitment to creating solutions designed with the priorities of both the AV and IT director in mind. On a personal note, I also recognized the value of having conversations with key IT personnel and left with a better appreciation for their professional priorities.
There is still debate regarding where AV fits into IT infrastructure, but I have confidence the more we continue to speak with and learn from our IT colleagues, the more we will continue to develop solutions that meet the needs of both end users and AV/IT departments. In the end, we’re all working towards the same goal: user satisfaction and conference quality. The more we continue taking with each other, the quicker the AV/IT gap will close for everyone.