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InfoComm Connected 2020: Your Questions Answered

Almo Pro A/V EVP/COO
Sam Taylor

Recently, Almo Pro A/V EVP/COO Sam Taylor participated in the InfoComm Connected 2020 LIVE Q&A with AVIXA President Dave Labuskes, following the keynote address, “A Better Normal: Reducing Friction and Finding Our Way in a Hybrid World.”

During the 15-minute live Q&A, there were so many questions asked that it was impossible to respond to them all in the time allotted. So we asked Sam to sit down with us and tackle every one of the questions directed his way. Here’s Part 1 of those responses:

Q: How do you envision the changing role and importance of digital signage?

A: There is so much opportunity for the AV industry as we create this “better normal,” especially in the area of signage. More than ever before, there’s a need for health and safety messaging: reminders to wear masks, wash hands and maintain social distancing are going to be with us for awhile. Along with this messaging, manufacturers are working hard to build in new features that address this era: touchless monitors, displays that provide thermal scanning, displays with built-in hand sanitizing dispensers and more.

Q: Where do you see the industry going with Wireless Presentation solutions with so many people now needing hybrid solutions and Zoom, team, integration?

A: It’s exploding. Wireless presentation is the future. It used to be about bringing your own device to a meeting — now you can bring your own meeting (BYOM) and have your participants plug-in from wherever they are, which is mostly from home these days. For example, Barco’s Clickshare Conference enables people with different platforms to utilize the same speakers, microphone and cameras for a seamless meeting. This is going to help people social distance and still have a productive discussion.

We’re also seeing more “work-from-home” hardware bundles with web-based portable speakers and cameras that are professional, reliable and can be used remotely from just about anywhere.

Q: As AV designers, especially working with architects, we have to be careful about advocating for digital spaces. It can help AV ride through this crisis, but it will surely dry up future work with architects. How do we advocate for our clients to feel safe in real spaces?

A: That’s a work in progress as there are still so many unknowns. This crisis is also a very personal experience as everyone has their own comfort level about returning to a closed group environment. Virtual connection is here to stay even while in-office connection starts to return. In the short term and long run I believe that AV designers and architects are going to have more work to do. Every existing office will be redesigned in some way. New builds are going to have to incorporate more meeting spaces that are smaller and allow for social distancing. The days of one large conference room for 25 people having a two-hour meeting are not coming back for a long time. Open area seating will have to be redesigned as well.

Q. What new tech integrations do you all see going forward in a post-COVID world in regards to events AV and connectivity?

A: This is another area where our industry can shine. The show, the learning, the networking must go on but this has forced us to be more creative in our delivery. The key is to keep the learning coming, and to keep us connected and thriving together. Live and virtual events each have their benefits so we feel it would be in our best interest to have both. Expect to see advancements and quick evolution in this arena – better connections, sleeker equipment, and even holographic telepresence, in which a full-size version of a speaker is beamed into a virtual meeting or live event without the travel time and expenses.

Q: Is there a role for distributors to play in helping companies bridge the revenue gaps through creative financing options?

A: Absolutely! Distributors have already begun partnering with manufacturers to provide financial relief through creative financing options such as additional 30-day extended credit terms. This gives resellers the critical ability to keep planning ahead and pushing forward.

Q: How would you recommend integrators get into AVaaS?

A: Lean in on the supply chain! Contact your distributor. If your distributor doesn’t offer it, we do at Almo. Now is the opportunity to leverage the services available through distribution to help rebuild and grow businesses. AV as a Service has been a buzz term for many years but those flexible financing and leasing options are needed more than ever because they allow for cash flow. This gives the integrator or reseller the ability to pursue larger, long-term installation opportunities as they open up, provide the latest technology, labor services and recycling/replacement options without any capital expenses.

Look for Part 2 to these questions, coming next week. We’ve reached out to Almo’s Business Development Managers who are SMEs on many of the inquired about topics relating to moving forward in a hybrid world.

Social Butterfly Thanks ZOOM for the Tiny Taste of Normal during infocomm CONNECTED

Not in my lifetime have I been a big fan of Las Vegas. This June I never missed it more. (I’m one of those rare birds that have only been to Vegas to attend InfoComm.) I’m not a gambler. I don’t party late into the night (any more). I live in Florida, so it’s really hard to justify paying for access to a hotel pool party – I do that pretty much every weekend all year long!

The list could probably go on and on (I won’t blame the Vegas heat, though.  I love the heat).

I was going to do Vegas right this year!  I’d planned to extend my stay after helping with the booth tear-down and stay another night or two so I could experience the ever-famous Strip with my Almo friends.  I wanted to stay out LATE!  I was going to dance and sip colorful cocktails and laugh, and blow on dice for whoever was throwing!

Thanks to the worldwide pandemic we’re all so sick of hearing about, I never even got the opportunity to book my flight.  So I spent the week at home like the rest of us, attending the virtual event that had some incredible content, but none of the smiles and hugs I took for granted in years past.

Early on in 2020 I put together a loose calendar for the Almo Blog.  It takes some effort managing multiple contributors, you know, and I had planned to pen the “InfoComm Social Butterfly of 2020”.  The booth tours, the dinners, the happy hours, the after-hours… even though I’m not a night owl I love it.  I enjoy the networking with our vendor partners, the interaction and introductions with our customers and end-users.  It’s invigorating! 

It was definitely different this year.  The InfoComm we know became a virtual infocomm CONNECTED, thanks to the world we are living in.  (NOTE… you can still check out the virtual replay until August 21!)

Obviously AVIXA and the industry made the right call.  We have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  I know I’m not alone, though, when I say I really, REALLY missed InfoComm and Las Vegas this year. 

So, my “InfoComm Social Butterfly” blog post feels more like a Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me post.  I did manage, however, to find one social highlight.  Normally at InfoComm I attend a happy hour networking event organized by the USAV group.  At the end of the week they hosted a “Coffee and Cocktails” virtual happy hour on ZOOM.  Certainly new to us all, but a way to connect just the same.

Oh, thank goodness for Zoom!  Just 30 minutes, but I met some new people and got to virtually “cheers” some old friends.

Zoom is no substitute for in-person events, but I’ll take all I can get these days.  Thankfully we have Zoom and other platforms that enable us to have face-to-face interactions when we can’t be in-person.  I’m so grateful for that. 

If I didn’t work at Almo, surely I’d have heard about ZOOM thanks to the pandemic, but like my parents and countless others, I’d have had to adopt it and learn how to use it.  The silver lining is the window has been thrown wide open, and businesses and organizations everywhere are open to incorporating this technology into their daily operations.  Almo has experts on-staff who can help our customers offer Zoom Rooms to end-users with bundles that include the hardware and the license for a complete solution with multiple options for different sized huddle and conference rooms.

We all can’t help but reexamine how we do business and how we can learn from this experience and save ourselves time and money when we are living that “new normal” we keep waiting for. 

I wish we’d have been able to connect last week, and I’m (not so) patiently waiting for whenever it’s safe to return to in-person conferences and meetings, though they’ll certainly be different.

Whatever our “new normal” is, I’m ready for it.

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