Operations management for AV technology – a nightmare for CIOs?

Who has not witnessed this situation: Everyone arrives for the meeting, according to the schedule, the meeting should have started five minutes ago. Everyone checks their smartphones and counts the minutes until the meeting starts. The person responsible for the meeting tries to get a grip on the presentation technology together with the help of the colleague closest to him and one or 2 others.

Regardless of whether you only want to present a short PPT or an Excel sheet as an introduction or whether you are trying to invite colleagues from other branches to the meeting via a unified communication tool, there are many obstacles to starting meetings. The heart rate of the person in charge usually only calms down once the meeting is up and running. The adrenaline level has already reached its peak without a single word on the actual topic of the meeting!

Even as a long-standing managing director of a market-leading manufacturer in the AV industry, this feeling is not unknown to me.

In Germany, we have the motto “the shoemaker often has the worst shoes”, all too often I have been a part of meetings and presentations that have had to deal with the many challenges and difficulties of conference and presentation room technology. Sometimes this can take as much as the first 15 minutes. However, almost always there were experts from the AV industry at the table the “shoemaker’s shoes” were definitely letting in water!

If this is the case in technology related industries and even in the supposed “experts”, what is the reality in the rest of industry in the financial sector or perhaps even in the philosophical faculty of a university? The challenges are at least as present there and the desire for an “always functioning technology” is omnipresent.

So it is good that there is a clear structure for help, a help desk and support for questions and problems.

Or is it?
Is this just wishful thinking?

Where are we really at?
For decades, AV technology was regarded as a part of facility management. The “caretaker” has put the overhead projector on the table. At some point, the overhead projector was replaced by a projector or beamer; at first often mobile, at some point permanently installed.

And today?
The modern conference room is equipped with a variety of hardware and software components. Collaboration and Unified Communication are just two current keywords.

The technology is more and more a mixture of classic hardware and software, which increasingly influence our work in the conference room and our meeting culture.

Can “the caretaker” or the facility management department still provide sufficient support for this technology?

Unfortunately, without intensive training and instruction, can no longer ensure basic support. Not least because the complete infrastructure (the classic IT network) and the application level (the various software solutions) are the responsibility of the IT department! Unified Communication is now fully part of the digital workplace. The user in the conference room requires the same functionality and the same tools as they do at their desk but at a bigger scale. Therefore, IT department is already present in the conference room and it is becoming difficult to evade this responsibility.

And what about the installed hardware??

90% of the products used in the conference room have an Ethernet interface. So, are they not also IT products?

Is it actually possible for the user to decide for himself whether he has a hardware or a software problem? Unlikely. They have a „functional problem “. And very likely a time problem. The conference room is full, every delay costs reputation, productivity and therefore a lot of money.

Fault diagnosis must not be the task of the user

It cannot be the task of the user to take over the fault diagnosis and thus part of the First Level Support themselves. The user has a problem and somebody has to help him and take care of it and ideally immediately. A meeting ties up many valuable resources of a company. It has to start on time and productivity must be given from minute 1. Under no circumstances should the meeting technology be the obstacle.

Professional managed services with a clear help desk structure are a necessity. The sooner IT managers and CIOs are aware that they will have to deliver these services in the future, the sooner we will see users entering a conference room without fear and trepidation. Users will be able to concentrate on the actual meeting topics and will be more focused and successful.

Managed services for the conference room

Over the last two decades, IT has defined and developed all rules, tools and functions to optimally support IT technology at the workplace in the interests of users. However, managed services for conference and presentation technology are still in their infancy. The finger pointing game of responsibility and competence has only 2 victims the user and ultimately the entire company!

The sooner this vacuum is recognized, understood and filled satisfactorily, the sooner AV technology will be accepted as a technology for the positive support of business processes. Not as the infinite “tinkering of an unstructured and non-standardised industry”.

Operation and service for the technology in the conference room has to be professionalized. Clear responsibilities and clearly defined service processes and procedures are required. The user needs clear information to whom they can and should turn. The ServiceDesk must be staffed professionally to provide the fastest possible help and resolution.
A problem in the conference room does not just stop one person working productively, but affects a whole group of people at the same time magnifying the cost and impacts many times.

Dear CIOs and IT leaders of this world, please make this leap of faith. Face the facts, take responsibility for productivity in the conference room and act now.
The success of your company will be your reward!


Siegfried Hermann, Business Development Manager of macom GmbH

Siggi Hermann has been working in the AV industry for over 20 years. It was not without reason that he became managing director of an international AV group. He is a popular trainer for AV technology and shares his expertise at congresses and seminars.

1 Comment

  1. Joachim

    Here is nothing to add…

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