Teaming Up Instead of Buying Out: The New Trend in Meeting Room AV
As I attended this summer’s InfoComm in Orlando, my very first thought was it’s so good to be back together again. This was the first trade show I’ve attended since the pandemic that truly felt as if it was back to “normal.” High attendance, filled booths, fewer asterisks about being around AV colleagues maskless. There was a general sense of excitement to be back together.
Interestingly enough, togetherness was a key theme I saw vendors promoting across the show floor – but for a different reason.
Pre-pandemic, there was a trend of companies trying to own an entire AV solution themselves. They’d either roll out a suite of hardware and software in-house, or acquire another vendor to integrate the tech into their existing suite. Now that AV companies are moving out of survival mode and into innovation mode, the push for more all-in-one solutions is once again top-of-mind. Instead of acquisition or going it alone, however, they’re touting partnerships as the path forward.
A few examples:
- At InfoComm, Shure announced a partnership with Airtame to create consistent meeting experiences for BYOD (bring-your-own-device) conference rooms. Users enter the conference room and launch a meeting through Airtame’s app, which integrates with Shure’s Stem Ecosystem within the room to provide clear audio for all participants.
- Lightware will partner with Sennheiser on a meeting room solution that takes data from the latter’s ceiling microphones, feeds it through the former’s automation technology, and repositions the room’s camera directly on a speaker, improving visibility for remote participants.
- Q-SYS and Lenovo will bundle the latter’s ThinkSmart room compute solutions with the former’s audio, video and control solutions, simplifying the process of rolling out complete meeting room infrastructure.
And these are simply scratching the surface. Five years ago, Lightware – an equipment manufacturer – likely would’ve focused on building their own monitoring and management platform. Instead, they’re now partnering with Utelogy, an established player in that space, to offer a cleanly integrated solution. It’s a move that allows both companies to excel in a narrower vertical while ensuring their technology is a viable option in a broader range of complete meeting room solutions.
So, how will this impact meeting room AV professionals?
The explosion of collaboration platforms in the pandemic’s early days led many companies to adopt new software without investing in major hardware upgrades to keep their meeting spaces up-to-date – after all, a return-to-the-office date seemed like a distant consideration. But that decision risked locking them into a smaller subset of hardware when looking at renovations down the road.
In a new era of partnership, AV professionals aren’t forced to go all in on a single solution provider, because the doors are wide open for vendors to work together. They’ll have access to a broader range of solutions that both integrate well and play well with their collaboration platform and specific meeting room constraints.
At RoomReady, this shift gives us more latitude to test meeting room AV solutions, understand which ones fit best with which platforms, and design meeting spaces that leverage these partnerships. Of course, expanding the range of available meeting room technology can make the decision around which ones best fits your unique space more daunting – but our team is here to offer the best possible guidance for solutions that fit your needs and your budget.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s the value of collaboration – how being together can spark great ideas and innovation. That’s a lesson AV manufacturers have taken to heart. A focus on partnerships will allow companies to build even great solutions on top of their existing offerings, while ensuring their technology functions well on complementary, best-of-breed solutions. Manufacturers win, and so do the end users.
Setting off on a meeting room integration journey and want to take advantage of these new partnerships? Reach out – I’d love to have a conversation! You can also learn more about our supported platforms and hardware here: https://roomready.com/av-technology/.