Is Systems Integration in Smart Buildings the biggest opportunity for AV?

The question everyone in AV for commercial, education or government spaces should be asking themselves.

I'll keep this short as my first post in XChange, but I'd love to hear what others think about this question! (and if there's a lot of interest, I'm happy to write more). 

Having started in AV contracting in the late 90s, I've always been interested in the integration nature of what we do - bringing together a variety of systems and devices to create an experience. The majority of those systems and devices were never intended to work together - and certainly weren't conceived with delivering that holistic experience in mind. But, that's ok, we had control systems and touch panels to help us hide the chaos of connections and create a coherent experience for our users. 

The fact is, we in AV learned faster and further than many of our related building systems peers because we got a lot of user feedback. Sure, it wasn't that kind or positive early on - "this system stinks", "it doesn't work", "it's too hard" and so on. But, we collectively learned from that and began to embrace the idea of a "user experience" (not just a user interface - or "GUI").

We also started trying to gather data from all the systems we were deploying via various server based management systems. And, we discovered that just because you can get data and plot a graph, doesn't mean it's valuable, or anyone will do anything with it. 

Fast forward to today, and most of the smart building industry is grappling with the challenges of user experience, robust systems integration and data acquisition. 

So, are those from an AV background well placed to thrive in this sector and help deliver great experiences, reliable performance and sustainable outcomes? 

What do you think?



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Go to the profile of Lee Dodson
10 months ago

Well said Pete. Thanks for starting a good thread (some things happily never change).

Very curious to see where this one goes.  "Smart Buildings" like many terms that have gone cliché over the years (shutter to invoke "multi-media") mean different things to different folks. The data would indicate tremendous opportunity here. But a key question is where is going for the AV industry? Opportunities thrive around the cross-overs from one industry to another. Are the environments we so artfully create part of the answer?

Go to the profile of Peter Swanson
10 months ago

Thanks Lee - apologies for a slow response over the Easter vacation! I think this really depends on how individuals / companies choose to define their value - and it's a choice, it's not right or wrong. I do believe that you need to be conscious of the choice though.

As a simple example, someone might say "We create high quality videoconference meeting rooms for our clients with the very best cameras, microphones, speakers and displays - not to mention intuitive control". Someone else might say "We help our clients achieve the best in collaboration, whether that's with everyone in the room or any mix of hybrid settings".

Both provide the same solution, but the second gives themselves more license to get involved in a wider variety of solutions, systems, services and value. I'm not saying either is better, but that you should know and choose where you want to focus... if people want to be artfully involved, the invitation is waiting!  

Go to the profile of Damon LuVisi
10 months ago


Love the post. I think it's high time for us to help these companies. Which I think will provide our industry with more opportunities and awareness to get into projects earlier in the design phase. Many of these companies like Place OS, HQO, Kastle, are start-up darlings in the space and are getting much more attention from the CRE folks than we do. 

I feel it is time for us (our industry) to show them how long we have been at this, that we are not new to the "Smart Building world" in essence our industry really created the sector before it became a buzzword. 

Go to the profile of Damon LuVisi
10 months ago

I can't edit Kastle isn't really a start-up but Switch Automation is. 

Go to the profile of Peter Swanson
10 months ago

Thanks Damon - to expand on my reply to Lee, I think it's a matter of how you conceive, present and deliver value. Mindset is key in terms of approach to market - and as noted in my reply to Lee, I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong answer, but it's important to know where you are focusing and why! Cheers, Pete

Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu
10 months ago

Yes, user feedback is so important to growth!

Go to the profile of Dawn Meade
10 months ago

This has been a talking point for our industry and Infocomm/AVIXA specifically since as far back as 2011. Back in that year, I attended one of the last Infocomm100 events - Infocomm100 was an invite-only gathering of 100 industry folks who'd gather for two days and debate a great, exciting topic, which varied each year. In 2011, it was Smart Buildings and integrating all of the silos (IT, AV, Environmental, etc) in those buildings to a unified whole.

Back then, the whole IoT, sensors everywhere, smart building/smart world concept was still fairly new and not as ubiquitous or understood as it is today. We had two great days of conversation where the consensus was: Smart Buildings are coming; they are an area of great opportunity for AV integrators; and the AV industry as a whole is best situated to take advantage of this coming opportunity since - of all the industry silos involved in smart buildings - we are the one that is most experienced at taking disparate products, technologies and manufacturers and integrating them into a functioning, whole system. 

Since its now 2022 and we're still talking about this, I guess we as an industry have been about as proactive at jumping on this "future trend" opportunity the way we were all so eager and excited to jump on the AV/IT convergence "future trend" opportunity - which is here, has been here, and some folks are still just getting the memo....  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Go to the profile of Peter Swanson
10 months ago

Thanks Dawn - yes, I should have mentioned in this post that I made that pivot in my career several years ago and my role now encompasses the various "smart" systems in buildings and places across AV / IoT / ICT / security / building systems integration / data acquisition, etc. So, from my biased point of view it's an excellent opportunity - but anyone taking it should be clear on how / why they are adjusting their career / organisation's path. 

Couldn't agree more with your comparison to AV / IT convergence! I think to be fair to the industry, there are always the "early adopters" and then the "main body" with the "late adapters" potentially up to a decade later, so the same conversation is relevant to different people at different times.