What will the integrator of 2028 look like?

The AV industry is evolving at breakneck speed and the role of the systems integrator job is changing rapidly. With greater IT integration, technology advancements and working habits, what will the integrator of 2028 look like? Inavate asks those in the job now, where they see their role and the industry in 5 years’ time.

Ray Sappall – Visual Systems

Technology is all about innovation and innovation in our business is all about doing the very best for our clients in providing the latest products and solutions, and in turn an improved service to our clients both in design/installation and maintenance/aftercare which I think will be much more remote than site based in future. As AV & IT merge more I believe a big change will happen over the next five years as AI is perfected and tested in the AV world.

Automation will become easier to implement in all sectors, but the downside is this may impact on certain skills which may see a downturn in use. AV Integrators will need to make their brand stand out. A great AV integrator is an ambassador for their company since clients will base their entire opinion of the company on their first interactions with them. AV engineers will have to have the correct qualifications and this may mean your staff getting certified in new areas, taking various or continuing educational courses and challenging yourself with different tasks. Clients in the future will know exactly what they want and expect us as experts to be able to do it for them. Some clients may want a system or setup you’ve never done before, which forces you to apply past principles you’ve learned and integrate different technologies to make it work. Every client has their own specific requirements, and they are willing to be patient to find the right AV integrator who can meet those needs and demands.

Jirí Plátek – AV Media

Organisations must consciously and tangibly commit to building a whole new work culture that fosters human connections with multiple modes of communication into organisational processes and workflows. The required changes in the way we communicate and collaborate from anywhere and anytime are critical to improving employee engagement and productivity. In 2028, hybrid work is fully accepted, employees have complete autonomy, trust and responsibility in deciding where, when, how and with whom they will work and co-create new fresh ideas, strategies and visions. Employees are full-fledged members of distributed teams who simultaneously perform various work activities.

Technologies in 2028 are designed according to people’s needs and desires, according to the desired ways of working and according to specific work scenarios. Thanks to this, they positively influence not only higher efficiency, engagement and creativity, but also completely new work experiences that people are looking for. In 2028, organisations offer employees workspaces that are maximally adapted to the needs and wishes of each individual. No more impersonal open spaces, offices have become lively and vibrant places where something is always happening and where employees like to spend their time. We will go to the office because we want to, because we know that there we will find colleagues and friends, as well as modern technologies and opportunities for interactions that develop and educate us. The best way to predict the future of work is to create it.

According to predictions, the workplace of 2028 will provide technologies adapted to the needs of the individual.

Girish Narayanan – Granteq

Change is the only constant. We are in the business of touching peoples’ lives, by integrating innovative technologies in their hybrid workplace. Always on the constant lookout of bringing best value for customers and manufacturers, technology continues to play a master role in AV.

System integrators are always on the lookout for new technologies that can help them do their jobs better. But with the constant stream of new products and services being introduced, it can be tough to keep up.

The integrator of 2028 will be a company that has the capability of manufacturing pro-AV and IT/AR equipment/solutions while owning its native implementation team – being that one-stop-shop for customers.

The industry will also be forced to move to vendor neutral protocols and standards for the benefit of all the stakeholders involved. It’s just a matter of time and a unified initiative.

Our position is that whatever the connectivity and communication protocols are, we think the business requirements will remain at the base human level. People will still work with people, be it customers, manufacturers, consultants or distributors, hence our position in the market will be relevant in changing times.

This also means that as sensible AV Integrators, we need to quickly learn about the usage of any newer standards/protocols, work with technology product manufacturers, to size them to customer requirements. The end result would always be to deliver solutions.

Hashem Nazzal - INTE Jordan 

There are many technologies developing in the AV industry, but I think the biggest change will come with the integration of almost every component in the AV system with IT which is impacting and changing the way AV integrators do their job. I think that the impact will be huge. It feels that soon we will reach the point where you cannot separate between AV and IT. AV designers and integrators must develop their knowledge in IT significantly in the coming years. As a result, I think the skills of younger generations getting into the AV industry will be higher than previous generations simply due to the way the industry is evolving, depending more on IT skills.

Because younger generations were exposed to IT from very young ages, this gives them greater experience and knowledge of dealing with IT. Therefore, I expect a positive impact from new young people joining the industry in the near future. This is essential as competition will keep increasing to unseen levels. I expect more companies/people from the IT industry will try to add AV to their list of potential areas of work, and at the same time be able to keep up with the IT development aspects of the industry.

 Additionally, I think we will keep seeing a decrease in the need for AV integrators in residential homes but an increase in the educational sector. The pandemic played a big role in changing the educational sector.

Tom Martin – Kinly  

We do not see the clientele fundamentally changing by 2028, what we will see is the sheer volume and investment customers will make. We believe that there will always be a place for the AV integrator and the specialist skills that come with the AV integrator. 

The quantity of customers may become smaller and more focused as the IT service provider moves into the quick win, high volume meeting room delivery spaces. However, the increased investment clients will make globally will drive more business for the AV integrator that can deliver these specialist and bespoke spaces worldwide, providing a technology uptime support model that increases customers' ROI and reduces downtime.

Support is a key factor for the specialist AV Integrator and requires the skillset to install as well as the skillset to provide ongoing support too. Understanding workflow and specialist AV expertise will continue to be a defining factor for the AV integrator, however retaining value in an industry that is driving towards network and software driven solutions requires a continued evolution of our services offerings and the skillset of our employees.

As physical hardware continues to decrease in value, our services need to evolve to serve the needs of our customers in terms of supporting a distributed user base, while providing data driven advice to budget holders. Our competition is evolving too, with IT service providers moving in to provide AV solutions to their customers alongside laptops, phones and network services. The AV integrator needs to differentiate by providing specialist expertise.

Jonathan Charles – Stage Audio Works

The AV industry is becoming increasingly competitive, encouraging young people who have the right skills and aptitude to continue growing their skills - this is vital to an integrator in building up the next generation of people in the market. As time goes on, it will become increasingly difficult to get the right young people to meet the needs of the average integrator without proper apprenticeship at a younger age.

It is vital that integrators understand this and make efforts to upskill and empower younger generations to meet this growing demand. The integrator of 2028 will have to face more competition and find more ways of providing solutions at a cheaper price. Therefore, it is important to provide a complete solution with a good understanding of AV systems to create price-competitive solutions.

The integrator is likely to face a shortage of skilled workers unless investments are made into proper upskilling and team development to create skilled teams that work well together. In South Africa, clients are moving towards cost-effective approaches. Integrators will need to expand their product knowledge to present solutions that meet the needs of the market at cheaper price points. Also, it is important for the integrator to have the right systems in place to streamline the sales/design process to provide solutions quicker to a client.

As things are becoming more and more accessible to the end customer, it is important that the solution can be presented quickly and accurately to the client and, more importantly, designed alongside the client.

Loek Wormenbol – First Impression

By 2028, you will see unification of standards: be it one, two or three protocols left. The smaller ones are going out of the market, and it is going to happen one way or another. The industry will only benefit if we go in a unified direction, but there is always a commercial side to that, and companies related to different protocols, so that will take time, mergers and acquisition to get to a point where people can push harder on unifying protocols.

If you look at the transformation of AV companies, as we did over the past five years, we used to be a technically-orientated company. Today, the skill sets and the things that we need in the company are different. We now have our own software development team as software has become incredibly important, we never would have considered this four years ago. It’s not just IT convergence, but software integration that will play a key role.

With this in mind, we have a lot of young people flowing in. With First Impression, the average age is still quite young. We need this younger generation because they are in the centre of the societal change we are experiencing. As a result, we have a lot of expertise, new blood and veterans in the industry to create the best product. This gives you insight into the current day consumer and the modern way of thinking. You need a good mix of people in your organisation.

We are living in a different, uncertain world right now; 2028 is a long way away and so much will change, but the physical and digital worlds will continue to blend.

Software integration will be a key part of the AV integrator’s role in 5 years’ time and successful integrators will need the skills to deliver.

Géza Balogh – Interton Group

IT dominance is one of the biggest challenges that we will face over the next five years. I think that technologies based on IT will have the biggest impact such as software-based solutions, signal processing, signal transmission, cloud computing and so on.

Software as a service will also have a huge impact on our offerings as system integrators. Using these technologies, IT can be a very useful tool, but it will dominate the AV world. Immersive technologies will also play a big role in the future: immersive audio and video will be a big player. In Hungary, most projects are implemented through a general contractor, with very few relationships with the end users. In Hungary, based on IT dominance, we will have more end users than general contractors because these services can only be provided to the end user.

I believe that integrators should become IT companies with AV skills. Based on that, I think that the biggest challenge is how IT dominance will be handled by integrators. Being a large IT company, it is much easier to acquire AV skills than the other way around. Competing with large IT companies who are active in the AV space (Cisco, Microsoft etc.) will be more difficult, and as technologies are rapidly developing, the key will be how quickly integrators can adopt to these changes, I think that integrators need to be fast to implement new technologies into their workflows.

Aidan Crowe – PureAV

The last few years have seen a push to make the AV integrator think about strategy when it comes to IT integration. Since I started in 1998, I have seen the developments of technology from overhead projectors to now a real understanding of how a client’s network is going to work, what we need to discuss with their network and IT teams. As an AV integrator, you have to understand IT.

That is why, our link with Ricoh is a perfect example of where the large, IT digital workspace providers are seeing an opportunity but are shy on the AV knowledge. We’ve come in to help with the more integrated solution side for projects that require higher technical knowledge and experience that they need.

AV is always going to be needed. Whether live video, virtual reality or streamed content, you need to visually see it in the highest quality, that quality is going to be demanded as the norm. Client knowledge has also increased. Historically, we were talking to AV managers, but we are seeing a shift towards IT and network managers or facility managers, the stakeholders are changing.

Some of our private sector and corporate businesses are now run by much younger CEOs that are driving a younger client base. We need to understand that to see where AV fits in and how meeting/ collaboration technology fits into this evolving market.

Alessandra Favella – Team Office

There will be a further increase in the use of integrated software, and the video conferencing platform will include not only features for meetings, but also to increase overall productivity. We can see this trend starting with new developments in Webex One, which will include integration of third-party tools such as what's up, Salesforce, and other major platforms not strictly related to our business.

Although hybrid work is a controversial trend in the current market, it is expected that those who will continue to work remotely full-time, especially among younger people, will move toward asynchronous work logics, where applicable. In the next few years -but probably more than fivethis trend will lead to a growing demand for personal devices first, and meeting rooms later, that include more advanced and intelligent recording features for sharing short video messages directly integrated on productivity tools/schedulers.

In addition, virtual reality and the metaverse will be new buzzwords and spaces in which to develop interactive solutions - in the short term, therefore, thinking of digital signage as well as auditoriums and meeting rooms, we foresee increased use of holograms and mixed reality solutions, as well as increased use of objects such as augmented reality visors even outside the channels of medical education and engineering design.

Shane Murphy – BeWunder

As the industry evolves, we have always kept within our core beliefs that the best teams are created from people coming together from different backgrounds, we see this with IT/AV personnel within our company, we also have talented resources from both contracting backgrounds and events technology backgrounds which we believe is one of the reasons that sets us apart in our field.

It’s clear that the AV industry is evolving at a rapid pace, with technology being brought into new projects, retrofit projects and of course event projects that in the past, AV and technology may not have been as prominent.

Clients are now, and in the next 5 years, looking to create experiences, feelings and emotions through technology which we welcome and are always happy to add value to our clients whether through full turnkey solutions, consultancy or temporary events. Our list of clients is growing by the day and it’s a great indicator over the next years ahead.

Main image photo credit: hxdbzxy, Shutterstock.com

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