With more than 81,000 visitors and almost 1,300 exhibitors, Integrated Systems Europe 2019 once again set a new visitor and exhibitor record. In our blog series we will show you the relevant ISE trends 2019. macom took 45 of our experts to Amsterdam in order to identify the latest trends and innovations for you. Between today and March 21st we will publish our ISE trends blog and all important ISE news – with interpretations and practical recommendations from our macom experts.

For the first time we are also presenting video interviews with the manufacturers. These interviews cover the outstanding solutions of ISE 2019.

These are the trend themes of ISE 2019:

  • AR/VR for enterprise applications
  • AV as a Service
  • AV management systems
  • Digital Signage
  • Event technology
  • Wireless presentation
  • LED
  • Interactive displays
  • Room booking
  • Smart Building
  • Unified Communication & Collaboration
  • Video Processing
  • Visual Collaboration (Tools)
  • AV Consultancy

In today’s blog post we start with the topics: UCC and AV management systems

UCC: more manufacturers, more systems – but what about the operation?

UCC was certainly more present at ISE than last year. The number of vendors and solutions increased and this increase in produce increase the choice for the user! Since there are different approaches to technology, features and interfaces, this requires a more precise selection. Since UCC is spreading more and more throughout companies, more and more clients and end points have to be managed. This creates new challenges for the operation of the solutions. This is currently not sufficiently on the radar of all manufacturers.

What’s new:

  • We were able to identify different technical approaches and some “novelties”. For example, Sharp and Avocor presented their new Windows collaboration displays – interactive touch displays with in-built camera, loudspeaker and microphones without UC client. A soft client on a “Bring-Your-Mobile-Device” (BYMD) such as a laptop or tablet runs the communication. Cisco presented the new Room Kit Mini, a complete room client, and the new Webex Board 85, an 85” all-in-one display in which the complete hardware including the UC client is integrated. Logitech and Crestron presented peripheral systems that communicate with a MiniPC-based software codec
    (More information on the technology approaches? Here you can find a technical overview of the different UCC systems.)
  • On the software point of view, there was also something new to see. Zoom has significantly improved compared to previous years and with its Zoom Room offers a real alternative to the large ecosystems of Microsoft and Cisco now. For Webex, Cisco offers additional functional features from third-party vendors via their own app shop (e.g. integration of Philips Hue in WebEx environments). Due to the integration into Office 365, Skype for Business/MS-Teams are well-established. In addition to the Windows Collaboration Displays, there is numerous hardware which is certified for it. Google presented its UC application Hangout-Meets and the Google Jamboard, also an interactive all-in-one display. The distributor Maverick, who presented various UCC ecosystems on the ground floor of his stand, was very interesting. They included Microsoft (although the new Surface Hub was not shown), Skype Room Systems, Windows Collaboration Displays, the NEC Infinity Board and different Zoom solutions.

User-related and more open

  • Overall, the systems are becoming more and more open to cover a complete user journey. Many hardware manufacturers have opened their systems to third-party UCC applications and apps via API interfaces. They have realized that the end users want uniform user interfaces. With Webex Teams, for example, Cisco offers a uniform user experience from workspace to huddle and larger meeting rooms. The software application can be used on Webex’s own hardware and on third-party devices. Crestron is following a similar path with their Flex series. The Flex series offers hardware solutions for any room size, but does not have its own UCC software. The products are therefore open to numerous UCC applications from other suppliers.
  • In addition, there are more and more interfaces to room technology. The topic of IoT is also being taken up by more manufacturers. We spotted several UCC displays with built-in sensors at the fair. These can, for example, measure how many people are in a room or how AV technology is used which is an interesting development but gathering this information to a useable single interface is still a massive challenge. In addition, we were able to identify a trend towards user-related systems that enable end-to-end communication independent of hardware and location. This also includes a pay-per-user model. This allows users to install their UCC clients on multiple devices at no additional cost.

Challenge operation

  • As a replacement for classic video conferencing systems, UCC is becoming increasingly important in companies. While VC systems were mostly limited to a few exclusive meeting and boardrooms, companies today have many smaller meeting rooms, huddle spaces and workstations that support UCC. More and more employees have UCC apps on their mobile devices. This increases the number of clients and devices that need to be managed and operated. This poses completely new challenges to corporate IT. No manufacturer has this topic sufficiently on their radar and can offer full end-to-end manageable solutions that provide the monitoring and reporting that many of the products boast. The topic of rollout management is also important here, as this could certainly be better with all manufacturers.

Recommendations of the macom experts:

  • “The large number of UCC systems is both a blessing and a curse for users. The choice increases, but at the same time the agony of choice arises. Not every system is suitable for every use case. In addition, there may be IT limitations that exclude some systems. That’s why it is important to precisely record the use cases and all user and IT requirements. In addition, the work processes with contact to the UCC system play a role. Only when these points are fully recorded, the next step in the selection can be made.“
    Immanuel Ross, AV consultant and UCC expert of macom Group
  • „Hardware integration should be scalable and manageable, especially for larger companies with multiple locations, nationally and internationally. It also makes sense to test whether the hardware and software for your own use case and in the existing IT infrastructure really work together. In our macomLAB we have pre-installed various UCC ecosystems and can simulate customer infrastructures to carry out such tests.”
    Boris Storz, COO and Director Operations of macom GmbH

Growing importance of AV management systems

With regard to AV management systems this year’s ISE shows some movement. It is clear that the topic is becoming more important. However, this does not apply to all manufacturers. In addition, a number of questions remain unanswered!

What was new:

  • It was conspicuous that there are more and more manufacturers that offer monitoring tools to control their own product groups. Some of them are relatively open and can be connected to tools of other manufacturers via an API interface.
  • The large manufacturers of established systems, on the other hand, had comparatively few new products to see and hardly any new developments. Some new systems are being developed in parallel. Overall, one gets the impression that the strategic concept is still missing!
  • Positive examples are Barco’s Overture and AVI-SPL‘s Symphony.
    While Overture seemed to play a rather subordinate role in Barco’s hardware portfolio in the past years, the system was equipped with some useful new features at this year’s ISE, such as the connection to Active Directory. AVI-SPL has offered its AV management system so far only in combination with the provision of its own operational services as a license model. Now there are apparently considerations to offer the system as an on-premise product for sale. This is particularly interesting for customers with security-sensitive data such as financial companies. AVI-SPL is not alone with this consideration. In the past years, the trend was towards cloud-based licensing models. This year however, more manufacturers also offered on-premise solutions. The customers purchase them once and operate them on their own servers. It does seem that some manufacturers are taking the security concerns of many IT departments seriously.

Functions and open issues:

  • With regard to the functional scope of the tools, we were able to determine three typical levels. The monitoring function is a fundamental aspect. Many systems are complemented by different kinds of control functions. Only a few systems have integrated additional functions such as digital signage management or a room booking system. TEOS from Sony can be mentioned here as an example.
  • However, the question of what information to gather and then what to do with the data obtained from monitoring often remains unanswered. In part, of course, the end customers have to answer these questions. It is important to decide how the monitoring data should be incorporated into company processes. The technical aspect of this question however does concern the manufacturers, evaluation possibilities, export functions, reasonable file formats for the extracted data and interfaces, many manufacturers still have a backlog here.
  • It is also difficult to extract data or monitor USB devices such as cameras for UCC systems and this presents another challenge in building fully monitor able solutions.

Recommendation of the macom experts:

„Due to the increasing variety of AV management systems a precise selection is important. We recommend considering three aspects:

  1. The use cases and stakeholder requirements: Only if a system covers the use cases and meets all user requirements is it used successfully and can generate added value. That’s why in the first instance, all requirements should be fully collected. It is a clear trend that we as the consultant have to fundamentally define these requirements with our customers first, help them with the process change and even change their own internal structures as the topic of central monitoring is still not established throughout the AV industry or inside many businesses.
  2. The technology operating environment: What is the operating environment in your meeting rooms? Which products do you use? Can they or how are they monitored/ controlled? What do your technical infrastructures look like? Attention should also be paid to the following important questions; How are your operational processes for AV systems structured? If there are any what do you have to do to bring them up to speed and if not what are you going to do?
  3. The roll out range: Do you only want to centrally monitor and control the AV technology in one location or do you want a system for your national or international locations? Not every provider is equipped for an international rollout. In addition, completely different requirements also arise for operation. Consultation by an experienced AV consultant is extremely important and generally a wise move!” 

Jens Martin, AV Senior Consultant and AV management expert of macom Group.

What were the interesting solutions for AV management systems at ISE 2019? Have a look at our videos from the show.

Next week we will continue with our second ISE trends blog post. Want to be permanently informed and up to date? Then follow our social media channels.

Until next week,

Martin C. Wagner
Head of marketing, macom Group

Your macom subject matter experts at ISE 2019 were:
Boris Storz, COO and Director Operations, macom GmbH
Jens Martin, AV Senior Consultant and AV management expert, macom Group
Immanuel Ross, AV Consultant and UCC expert, macom Group

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