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AV/IT Culture Gap

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Michael Goldman

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AV/IT Culture Gap

Last year in this space, I gawked in awe at the sophistication of intelligent buildings such as New York's Hearst Building — the subject of the March 2007 cover story in Sound & Video Contractor. This issue, we return to Manhattan to profile another smart building: the New York Times' publishing facility (see p. 54). This time, though, as amazed as I was by the IT backbone sewn into that particular building, it's also dawning on me that these sorts of facilities represent a fundamental cultural sea change for both the companies that are melding their AV and IT infrastructures, and for the installation professionals that glue it all together.

Read this issue's AV/IT roundtable article by Jay Ankeney (p. 34), and you'll see what I mean. The panel of experts represented discuss strategies and advice for successfully joining the AV and IT cultures. Kevin McGinniss, systems design engineer at Advanced AV Systems Integration, for instance, explains the need for AV professionals to “talk the talk” and actively engage IT specialists if they expect efficient cooperation on major projects.

Others talk about what fundamentally different disciplines professionals from these two worlds inhabit — even the language they speak, as Ankeney points out in his introduction, can be different in many cases. From an even more paradigm-shifting point of view, Glenn Polly, president of VideoSonic, suggests that corporate clients, sooner or later, will replace their internal AV departments with IT help desks and IT teams of various flavors.

Therefore, experts point out that bridging the AV/IT cultural gap is in the best interests of AV professionals and installers/integrators — with AV professionals imparting the fundamentals of good AV design to IT partners and clients, even as they “learn the fundamentals of IT and give IT equal importance,” in the words of Mark Bellehumeur, president of Tek 7, another participant in our roundtable.

In addition to the information packed into this and upcoming issues and newsletters, we'll be doing our part to help bridge this cultural divide. Watch your inbox for an announcement of our upcoming webcast, AV/IT Integration Essentials, among other products we are preparing to address this important issue.

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