AV and IT are in some ways converging, but each of their objectives and processes are still distinct, which is not fully considered in the often-misused term convergence.
As an industry, audio visual (AV) is extremely multi-layered. Expanding communications, data sharing, collaboration, and interactivity have powered the AV industry forward in areas such as conferencing and collaboration, digital signage, and learning technology. Each of these is a unique part of AV requiring advanced IT software, programming, and support.
IT, also known as information technology, includes a multitude of technologies and related disciplines. The foundation of IT is still basic computer-based information systems, including computing hardware, operating systems, application software, and the data that is processed to produce useful information, but over time, each IT component and function has become even more complex.
Previously, IT might have been called upon to wire facilities for sound and install video systems, but as AV continues to expand into the cloud, IT is often called upon to secure primary and secondary applications, train employees in the use of AV-related tools, manage company content, and provide virtual protection.
This rapidly developing partnership between the two has spurred talks of an AV/IT convergence. Some will even refer to it as IT/AV. But for now, AV and IT are best seen as a “symbiotic” relationship, in which IT creates the backbone of the world AV resides.
Digital signage is, perhaps, the best example of this relationship. Display technology has moved way beyond mere screens where content and video are presented. It is one of the most promising and fastest growing segments merging AV and IT technologies. Digital signage has become “smarter” and usually entails advanced networking.
A key benefit of digital signage technology is its flexibility and versatility. It can be tailored to help every viewer find relevant information that is particularly interesting and beneficial to them, allowing for a vast variety of information to be displayed and shared.
The main digital signage trend ongoing now is the use of targeted content personalized for a particular audience with the help of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. These sensors installed near each of the displays can identify factors such as gender and age of the audience. The content shown is then adjusted depending on the profile of one or many viewers to create a custom output, which can help advertise information, provide entertainment, and allocate information with more impact.
And another advantage to these sensors is that through analytics gained, businesses can achieve goals by allowing analytics to provide quantifiable guidance – a step in the right direction which was once a shot in the dark.
Typically, digital signage is used to provide information publicly and can also convey internal communication to provide functions such as enhancing customer service, reporting promotions, and boosting brand recognition.
It's fascinating to watch what was once two sectors slowly merge into a hybrid one. As AV technology continues advancing, we may see an even deeper convergence in the future, but only time will tell.