Combining AV and IT Operations

AV is technology, and AV is often placed under IT organizations as a means to centralize technology management and coordination, especially given the place of AV on today's data networks. However, AV technologies (and the people who are drawn to AV), are different from IT (and the people drawn to IT) in many respects. Of course, there are also many similarities. Appropriate distinctions and organizational demarcations between AV and IT are key to optimizing these operations.

The graphic below illustrates some areas where operational responsibilities may require more specialized expertise and training in either AV or IT, and generally should be assigned to appropriately different personnel.

At the same time, other operational responsibilities are good candidates for consolidation in the combined AV/IT support organization.

AV IT Demarcations

We can also illustrate this idea by looking at some of the overall similarities and differences of each technology. These may require detailed attention to organizational demarcations of roles and responsibilities as described below.

Comparing AV and IT Technologies
Aspect of
AV and IT
The Similarities The Differences
They are networks. Both AV and IT use IP networking over structured cabling. There are some proprietary, non-IP-based AV transport options for video, audio and control signals that may use category cabling.
They need space. AV and IT need space for equipment and pathways for cabling. Both may need a "center" for monitoring their systems and managing their support.

The IT work is done in the users' physical space once the wall jack is hot, the wireless network is running and the computers are connected.

AV, however, has all kinds of peripherals in, around and beyond the user's room, and the acoustics, lighting and seating layouts are all integral to the operation of the AV system. AV work has much more to do with the the room beyond the wires and devices. As a result, AV has a much bigger effect on architecture.

They need support systems and organizations.

Both AV and IT need people and a trouble ticket system to help users.

Both can use centralized management, diagnostic and remote control systems to help users.

Both need to know something about networking to do their jobs.

Both need to have people skills to help users.

While there is some overlap, what IT professionals need to know about the depths of IT is dramatically different from what AV professionals need to know to be effective.

IT professionals need to know a lot about a few manufacturers' equipment, and the intricacies of the network and communications environment in which they work.

AV people need to know about hundreds of manufacturer's equipment and how the network, electrical interfaces, and physical environments affect their performance.

Organizational effectiveness, user satisfaction level, and ultimately the bottom line, can be optimized based on these concepts. By carefully assessing the organizations needs, and then selecting appropriate demarcations, organizational goals can be set for creating change that works!


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