Interview: Simon Fourie, Audio Visual Distributors
In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today we talk unified comms with Audio Visual Distributors’ Simon Fourie.
Which technologies do you think will be game changers in 2020?
Unified communications (UC) and collaboration technologies that allow spaces to be multipurpose. We are seeing an increasing need for allocation of smaller spaces and single devices like touch monitors to be used with the addition of industry-standard PC hardware. Whether it be a meeting space or a classroom, these smart software-based technologies will lead the way for changing the way AV is installed, maintained and utilised.
Education has prompted a need for this, and because of the interaction required by students in remote places, it is becoming increasingly popular to huddle into a smaller space to deliver content to remote locations via the internet.
Managed services is where we see the AV space moving in the not too distant future, managing hosted AV spaces for installations involving less and less hardware as technology develops.
Which innovations or disruptions are your customers most concerned about in the year ahead?
The development of 5G technology to smooth out the bandwidth constrictions of the past is one of the most exciting points made by our customers. More bandwidth on the fly means the demands of UC applications and technologies that operate on the internet are streamlined even while utilising current hardware technologies. The UC space is even changing the way buildings and therefore meeting and office spaces are designed, and even the way people come to work.
Technology that we are all concerned about is the threat of attack on these open standards platforms. This introduces hesitation to use these technologies and also the spaces which we design and install equipment into. Education, and keeping up to speed with the IT and networking security factors in maintaining and integrating this equipment together with this hosted software, becomes paramount.
What will be the biggest growth opportunities for your company in 2020?
Software-based applications in the AV space with product as a service. Many AV companies have adopted this into a successful business model; however, the switch they have made from capital-based sales to OPEX-based sales is difficult and many still strive to achieve this after years of trying.
I suppose the biggest cause of the need for UC technology to become more sophisticated is that it will eventually (sooner rather than later) be a question of telecommuting to work rather than commuting to work. The advent of technology that assists in solving a large part of the world’s congestion, and therefore environmental considerations, is where we see huge opportunity in 2020.
What’s on your tech wish list for 2020?
More industry standards and fewer proprietary implementations in all aspects of the UC and audio-visual space. Although this is asking a lot, software vendors and very powerful PC hardware is making it possible for a lot of innovators to start designing great products that take the place of a rack full of equipment.
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