We’d all love a crystal ball…a window on the future that shows us what technology trends will take off, how customer needs will shape up and even the world events that will threaten to knock us off our feet! Failing that, we must use our experience and the direction of travel in the world around us to determine where we invest our R&D dollars.
When it comes to what we can expect in the future of AV, we seem certain to be heading towards the cloud. Multiple products, tools and technologies from infrastructure to software to platforms are now easily available as cloud-based services. Organisations are abandoning their legacy on-premise technologies, freeing them up from costly IT expenditure, and instead embracing a more managed services approach where they just pay for what they need.
In a recent survey we carried out amongst customers and partners, we found that 88% thought it inevitable, or highly likely, that we would start to see virtualised or cloud-based AV solutions being introduced in the next 2-3 years.
The complexity of audio-visual solutions that combine hardware and software has been a deterrent to making them available as-a-service to date. This is changing, however, as respondents to our survey indicate, with 58% saying that they had already recommended or purchased a hybrid AV solution, part in the cloud and part on-premise. A further 25% said that they would be comfortable recommending hybrid AV but with reservations.
Perhaps their concern lies in the impact of cloud services on cost structures. How much should solutions cost if they are being made available virtually? This is a question for us all as an industry to tackle, but the overwhelming view from 75% of our respondents is that costs will rise by 10-20% more than they are right now.
What also seems relevant as we future-gaze is the growing importance of standards. Content providers are no longer prepared to operate as willing participants in the Wild West of the internet. Instead they are working closely with a majority of vendors to ensure their equipment delivers a secure connection to protect copyrighted content. 60% of the industry professionals we connected with thought that the HDCP Pro standard to ensure streamed content is legal and secure was essential, a further 10% believed it was quite important.
But we wanted to find out how willing our partners and customers would be to recommend or purchase a streaming solution in which HDCP was not built in. In other words, technology which did not meet this important industry standard. Amongst this cohort, 67% said that they would not recommend or purchase on this basis.
Our industry, like so many others, is transforming and we, as vendors, must provide solutions in a model that suits the changing needs of our customers. Integrator partners are an important barometer. They understand the need for smoother scalability and standardisation in the solutions they are recommending, and they are able to gauge the pace at which AV-as-a-Service will start to replace more traditional enterprise-wide AV integration projects.
At ISE in May no doubt we will see new ideas displayed on stands which will inform our plans and guide our developments. The Barcelona event is not a crystal ball, but it will certainly allow the entire sector to see the direction we are moving in when it comes to future innovation.