POV: AV and Content Management
Jan 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Julia Pegg
Content management is often the responsibility of IT managers because it leverages the broader IT infrastructure of the organization. IT managers, while very well-versed in matters relating to infrastructure, often lack the skills or predisposition to manage content that optimizes the user experience.
Where IT is typically able to provide the mechanics of delivering content, the delivery mechanism and support platform are taken for granted and not considered elements that add value. The value resides in the experience of the user who receives the information, which is a result of content creation. Simply put, content creation is more an art than a science, and it comes much more naturally to AV than IT.
Typically, when sharing or distributing content, customers are worried less about the delivery process than the impact that content will have on the recipient. The ultimate objective of content creation is maximizing the information retention rate of the target audience by keeping their awareness and alertness at a high level for as long as possible.
The desired end result relates more to the experience that the recipient of the content will have and the retention rate of the information being distributed.
CONTENT DELIVERY CHALLENGE
Content delivery is intrinsically an AV function that requires IT skills and tools. AV service providers are presented with a unique opportunity to accomplish the reverse of what IT entrants have done in the AV industry.
Where IT vendors have leveraged their knowledge of networks to penetrate emerging AV applications such as videoconferencing or digital signage, AV vendors can leverage their core competence to optimize the user experience and penetrate the intrinsically IT-centric application of content management. The AV elements of design and integration that harmonize time, place, and user experience of content application are the most critical success factors for maximizing the information retention rate of the target audience.
ENGINEERING THE USER EXPERIENCE
How can the sensory experience of the consumer be optimized such that the content being delivered has a maximum impact and is fully absorbed? The answer will vary depending on the application. With applications such as training, retention rate is critical — but for collaborative applications, attention span is more important.
ASSESSING USER NEEDS
The AV design process should include a psychographic profiling of the user and other stakeholders. There are typically three aspects to this process: profiling the users, establishing the content usage patterns, and identifying the key value links in the knowledge transfer or creation process. All three aspects must be addressed simultaneously as part of the design and deployment.
AV systems designed for the sole purpose of accommodating the room architecture are no longer enough. The sensory experience and conscious or unconscious expectations of the user must be considered. The design needs to be both functional and experiential.
When selecting products to install, it is more important than ever for systems integrators to focus on product design, aesthetics, and how the product impacts the user experience.
Many IT entrants to AV territory have delivered better value than their IT equivalents by capitalizing on their knowledge of networks and video, while downplaying the importance of quality audio. For the most part, IT professionals lack knowledge of audio systems, and many have no interest in learning about them.
It is up to AV professionals to educate their customers about the benefits of quality audio. Training customers to think of audio as part of a complete solution is important, but before this becomes a reality, AV professionals must develop their own IT skills. AV design consultants and AV systems integrators are uniquely positioned to become architects of the user experience. They have a significant role to play in adding value as packagers of complete solutions. “IT is the electricity and power generator, but AV is the switch that turns the light on,” says one IT manager. In other words, the services provided by AV are what ultimately get the user excited. AV has become essential for engineering the optimal user experience regardless of the application.
For more information, read InfoComm's Business Trends Report on Content Management, available to members at infocomm.org/btr.
Julia Pegg is a project manager with Reston, Va., consulting firm Acclaro Growth Partners. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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