When you think of the convergence of AV and IT, the first sector that springs to mind is probably corporate. There’s no denying that this market has been impacted heavily by the IT-ification of AV and the move towards software over hardware, but it’s certainly not the only area in which the benefits of convergence can be reaped.
Take education, for example. Higher education in particular has undergone major changes in recent years, especially when it comes to how estates are managed and by whom. In many institutions, IT is the driving force behind the AV teams, even in those where AV comes under the Facilities Management or Estates sections. This isn’t without its challenges, however, and while some institutions have managed to merge their teams and make a success of this, others are ‘de-merging’ again.
While it seems an easy sell for AV team members to learn IT skills in order to progress their careers and add variety to their role, the opposite is much more difficult. Successful merged teams must support remotely, monitor proactively and treat AV devices the same as network switches, access points and VoIP phones.
It is also important to have a diverse range of skills across a team to ensure that any issues can be recognised and fixed in the shortest possible time. As many universities have limited resource in this regard, it is useful to have a managed services agreement in place. Consider all the devices in use across a university campus and the impact it can have it they are faulty or mislaid.
Take the example of a microphone in a lecture theatre. With often quick turnaround times between lessons, it’s essential that these are on hand when needed, fully charged and in situ – no beltpacks going walkies and no low battery alerts during important presentations. By investing in managed services, a team can be on hand to proactively monitor these devices. In fact, services can include everything from remote helpdesk assistance and network monitoring and management, to lifecycle management and onsite support.
As the push towards standardisation of similar spaces continues across the higher education landscape, the benefits of a managed service agreement are even greater with networked AV creating the opportunity for remote monitoring and managing of equipment. This allows for proactive maintenance, reducing downtime and meaning potential issues can be resolved before they impact the user.
Remember though that standardisation can lead to problems if there is an equipment failure, with the potential for multiple rooms to be affected. With this in mind, it’s essential that institutions have agreements and systems in place to ensure such problems can be dealt with immediately and by people skilled in the area concerned.
In larger universities, SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are becoming more common. They may be as simple as a help desk and callout service, or as complex as an enterprise service desk handling customer calls and marshalling dedicated on-site engineers either for early life support or to manage the service moving forward. The opportunities are there to tailor such agreements to meet the exact needs of your institution.
In a university, the most important thing is that students are in an environment where they are comfortable and able to learn effectively. There is no doubt that technology can have a significant positive effect on this, but only if it is managed and used properly. Managed services can ensure this is the case without using up the limited resources of in-house teams. Contact us today to find out how our experienced team can help you to deliver the best education experience possible.