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Apr 14, 2009 12:00 PM, By Michael Goldman

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In these tough times, the AV industry finds itself sitting at the heart of an interesting cultural phenomenon/business paradigm shift—a phenomenon that goes by the abbreviation CSR, which stands for “corporate social responsibility.” We’ve all heard the term. It incorporates many concepts that most folks would support: better working conditions, charitable acts, business behavior that values goals beyond profits, and more environmentally conscious facilities and policies—better known as “green AV,” a topic this magazine will examine in-depth next month. AV technology plays an important role in CSR because, when installed strategically, it has the potential to help companies go green, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and communicate better.

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The Internet is awash in blogs, articles, user groups, and forums debating CSR, whether the concept helps or hurts business, and whether that is important. CSR even has its own Wikipedia entry. One of the more interesting blogs on the subject that I read recently posited that corporate and societal success greatly depend on CSR during lean economic times. The reason relates to something we’re all experiencing right now—the recession, forcing cost-cutting and streamlining across the corporate universe. Some CSR measures, such as the simple installation of a videoconferencing system or energy-saving technologies, can directly help companies be more resource-efficient. On the other hand, asking companies to add anything or consider any issue other than their immediate survival right now is asking a lot.

Still, folks I talk to in the corporate market say video­conferencing installs are still fairly vibrant, and they also say that companies large and small are at least investigating how technology can help them be more efficient. It’s hard to quantify such things while they are still going on without a proper study, and a portion of those jobs reflect work planned and financed before the recession washed over everything. Whether those positive vibes will still be circulating in six months or a year is open to question.

What is less open to question is whether companies will need to be more strategic in their decision-making processes, and in so doing, would do well to include—rather than preclude—modern AV solutions to address certain business challenges. In another blog I read, it said now is a revolutionary time for how corporations do business. That blogger suggested it won’t be long until large companies routinely include a chief green officer (CGO?) among their senior managers.

We’ll see, but it’s also a revolutionary time for the professional AV industry. It’s fascinating to watch these two revolutions intersecting in ways no one could have predicted even a few short years ago.

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