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How to Get the Most out of Your AV Budget

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It’s easy to think that something is better just because it’s more expensive. And if you are comparing, say, a Kia to a Lamborghini, that might be true. But in a lot of cases, it isn’t. In fact, the cheap seats at the ballpark usually have the best view.

When it comes to audiovisual solutions, expensive doesn’t always mean better either. As you are designing new AV systems, understanding what you should spend your money on—and where you can cut corners—can ensure you get the functionality you need without exceeding your budget.

3 Places You Can Find AV Savings

  1. Don’t pay for unnecessary features and functionality. The latest, greatest, shiniest new AV trend isn’t always the right or best solution. You might be paying for features you don’t need and won’t use. You can save money by choosing a less flashy tool that does just what you need. And a qualified AV engineer can help you tell the difference. “Our engineering staff will select equipment based upon the needs of the application,” said Brent Stanphill, Senior Enterprise Account Manager at Level 3. “If there are options, we will give professional recommendations that could save costs while still accomplishing your goals.”
  2. Take a phased approach. Instead of trying to get all the new AV technology and tools you need in one fell swoop, consider implementing them in phases. By making the most essential purchases first, you spread out costs and get the chance to see how your tools are working and what gaps remain.
  3. Forget the fancy furniture. AV furniture has come a long way since the days of pressed wood and veneers. There is no need to spend extra money on designer furniture to hold your AV hardware. In most cases, regular AV furniture will do the trick and leave you with money left over for purchases that will directly improve the user experience.

3 Places to Spend Big on AV

  1. A good plan and solid design. It’s impossible to choose the right tools and technologies if you don’t know what you need those tools and technologies to do. Spending the time and money to assess your technology needs is imperative to choosing tools that can successfully meet them. A qualified AV integrator can not only help you identify those needs, but also help ensure that your physical spaces are designed to optimize technology use. “Level 3 Engineering will design a room based upon the needs of the client and their budget,” said Stanphill. “The key to a successful deployment is capturing all the technology requirements based on the business’s work flow and making solutions easy to use, reliable, and affordable.”
  2. Quality audio. “Never skimp on audio,” said Jeff Bethke, Level 3’s Director of Engineering. “It’s the main thing people complain about, and when it’s bad, meetings can be worthless.” Good audio, on the other hand, will facilitate efficient and effective communication even for remote participants. It helps keep meetings efficient, worthwhile, and productive.
  3. Commercial-grade components. Consumer-grade AV equipment is certainly cheaper than the consumer-grade equivalent, but it simply can’t meet the needs of corporate AV implementations. Commercial-grade AV is great for your home theater, but chances are you wouldn’t offer to host a board meeting there. Your corporate conference rooms need a more robust, reliable, and durable AV solution.

How to Get Started

To get inspiration for your small meeting room AV upgrade or implementation, download our Huddle Room Catalog today. Then contact one of our AV integrators or engineers to start making a plan that will put your money in the right place.

Download the Catalog

Do You Need a Video Collaboration Expert?

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Do You Need a Video Collaboration Expert?

Even if skinny jeans are “in,” they may not be the best choice for you if you don’t like the way they look and feel. The same logic goes for choosing video and other collaboration technology—just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for your organization.

Providing employees with technology-rich meeting and collaboration spaces is important, but the most commonly used video collaboration and conferencing tools might not be what’s best for supporting productivity and user work styles at your organization. Here are some ways to ensure you choose technology that is the right fit for your huddle spaces and conference rooms:

Plan Before You Purchase

The most efficient and cost-effective way to shop is to decide what you need before you go and then stick to your list. That way you don’t impulsively choose things you don’t need or won’t use (like gummy bears or skinny jeans). The process for choosing and buying new audiovisual (AV) equipment should be the same.

First, determine your goals. Don’t begin by thinking in terms of technology. Think in terms of capabilities, work styles, and the kinds of work your teams want to accomplish. That way you won’t be influenced by what’s popular. Do teams need to live stream? Do they need to present to remote groups? Do they use or ignore the technology already in meeting spaces? Do they walk past the current presentation system and just use their laptops? If so, why? Are existing solutions too hard to use? Consider all the applications and use cases within your organization and remember that not every department or team will use a tool in the same way. User suggestions, requests and complaints, as well as any usage data captured by your current video conferencing system—if you have one—can help you accurately identify requirements.

Once you’ve uncovered clues about how employees want to work—and actually work—you can begin to research which hardware and software tools are available to meet their needs. Consider which ones will work with other systems in use at your organization. Regard how users will work in your designated collaboration spaces. Because audio considerations are often overlooked when evaluating video collaboration solutions, review your spaces to see if there are acoustical limitations, unusual room dimensions, etc. Is there an option to choose ongoing management, maintenance, or support? Narrow your choices down to ones that won’t require customization or enhancements—you’re trying to make work easier for everyone, including yourself.

How to Choose the Right Solution

Once you’ve done some initial research, it can still be difficult to make the right choice. This is a good point in the process to solicit the help of a certified AV design engineer. An expert can help you review considerations such as:

  1. Set-up complexity. A qualified integrator can help you understand how long it will take—and how much it will cost—to install each of the solutions you are considering. They can also help you with related items such as understanding network requirements and planning for future upgrades.
  2. Features and functionality. No user has a good experience with a solution they struggle to use. An integrator can walk you through how to start or join a meeting, how to connect multiple devices, how to share screens, how to use recording features and how to include and accommodate remote users.
  3. End-user experience. Is the software intuitive? Can meetings and collaborations be launched quickly? Will meeting organizers have all the tools they needs to accomplish their goals? If you—or your integrator—answered no to any of these questions, keep looking.
  4. Budget and ROI. If it’s not in your budget, it’s not the perfect solution for you no matter how great it seems. How do the benefits compare to the price—both now and in the long term? Remember to consider both one-time and recurring costs, such as maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. The best solution will also allow you to gather usage data that shows how people are using the tool, what problems they are experiencing, and how well the tool is helping them meet their goals.
  5. Infrastructure requirements. A qualified AV engineer or integrator can help ensure you are implementing a holistic, flexible, agile and future-proofed system.
  6. Access and security. Ensure that those who need to access your system can—and that others can’t. AV design engineers can make sure your system is web-enabled, mobile-compatible, and cloud-accessible, while also ensuring your network isn’t overburdened and your assets stay secure.

Next Steps

The right video collaboration and AV tools help even the smallest company enjoy a large, global presence. Video can be used to engage anyone, anywhere while also maximizing productivity. Contact us to speak with one of our certified AV professionals to discuss solutions by Skype for Business, Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Cisco, Polycom, and many more and help you determine which video collaboration solution will best fit your needs.

 

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