Despite being around for many years, UC Expo hadn’t been a priority for Shure mainly due to sector focus and portfolio. May 2017 was our first year exhibiting at the show with our new Dante-enabled ceiling arrays and DSP’s, and it’s been revealing that whilst talking to our visitors I found that there is a clear desire among IT professionals for simple solutions that deliver high-quality audio in meeting rooms across multiple sectors.
It was really interesting to be there with something of a unique offering, demonstrating high end audio equipment and highlight how this could be used to solve issues that IT departments and end users are facing on a daily basis.
One of the biggest concerns presented to me at the show was the need for consistency in their business communications. When their users are dealing with prospects, clients and other stakeholders, they must be able to rely on their room-based UC systems to deliver clarity of sound and image on each and every occasion. One of the most difficult issues is resolving the inconsistencies, the room’s performance should not be impeded by the unique behaviour of the current user which includes rooms that are difficult to set up, or that are perceived to be difficult to set up. Poor performance whether you are at the near end or far end is a surefire way to put people off using them and create more work for the support team.
Improve audio without a complete refit
Conferencing has never been more central to a workplace as teams are increasingly disperse yet ever-more keen to collaborate, it is now recognised that good audio shouldn’t just be the preserve of the boardroom. In my experience, many smaller spaces have a simple laptop and screen setup that often doesn’t achieve the desired results, but there are still steps that can be taken to improve audio quality that don’t have to involve a complete refit.
As many IT professionals still see AV as a more closed field than IT, it came as something of a surprise to those at the show that solutions are available today that integrate with existing end points. If a business is using BlueJeans, Pexip, Cisco, Starleaf or another VC setup, we now have products that can simply connect into that environment and greatly improve the user’s experience and more importantly, their productivity.
It was also great to see microphones get such a strong reaction at the show. While IT teams are aware they need high-quality mics, recent developments have brought conferencing audio on in leaps and bounds. The ability to more accurately capture sound sources and remove background noise all with an intuitive user interface and while integrating with an existing AV/IT infrastructure was something many hadn’t experienced before.
Our visitors were keen to learn and discuss ways to improve sound quality in their meeting spaces through greater understanding of room acoustics. Simple design issues such as selecting the most suitable microphones formats and placing them in the optimal position, and basic furnishings can make a huge difference to the acoustic output of the room but this was often not a primary consideration. The fact that work spaces could be improved relatively easily and with minimal disruption certainly seemed to be an eye-opener to many attendees.
It’s clear that there’s a lot of potential and much interest in the idea of bringing more AV into the UC environment and some of the innovative technology we’re used to seeing in AV could solve issues facing IT teams and end users with relative simplicity and ease. The key factor is going to be educating IT teams, and working with them, to ensure high-quality audio becomes the norm across all meeting spaces.