The markets that could use some audiovisual magic
By Murphy Daley
The COVID 19 pandemic has people working from home and relying on distance communication. Remote AV conferencing and collaboration is not new, but the pandemic has brought nearly everyone to use it. 2020 is the year of worldwide disruption.
It is unsettling. The world is waiting to find out what the new normal is. Who knows what’s next? I hear again and again that it is not possible to know what will come.
I reject that. There is always a way to move forward. What experiences have we had to help see a way forward? What other technology disruptions have come before? What comparisons can be drawn?
Where I live in Southern California, the Aerospace industry shaped society. The old folks at the end of my block tell me how they worked at General Dynamics in the 60s making airplanes. Commercial jetliners began service in 1951 and quickly changed just about everything. People could safely travel further and faster than ever before. Soon packages with necessary goods and legal documents could travel across the world in less than a day. Businesses could transact commerce, sell and seal deals faster than ever before.
Comparing with that previous disruption, I can see what industries are ready to be changed by the adoption of AV conferencing and begin preparations to serve them with our services and expertise. I see four verticals ready for change.
America’s legal system has adapted to distance communication.
On April 18, 2020, the governor of New York signed an executive order that allows marriage to legally happen over a video conference. This fall, Texas and Florida have held jury trials over video conferencing.
I assisted the Los Angeles county courthouses in California install a digital evidence presentation system in 2019 and these systems were leveraged immediately to accommodate remote conferencing. Each system of courts in every locality in America is re-evaluating their AV infrastructure with an eye toward expansion. There are new demands for using this technology starting this spring. The ease of use, improved scheduling and cost benefits are compelling reasons to adopt this technology.
Every level of education is utilizing distance communication. Elementary school classes are sending tablets and laptops home for students to use. Teachers are learning new skills and trying out different methods of teaching. Webcams and ring lights are expected.
Universities have even more sophisticated setups, partly in an urgent response to keep students. Many students are taking a gap year, and universities must respond to what their customers need.
Cameras for classrooms and home offices, learning software systems and remote study groups must be incorporated into the university with greater attention than before.
The pandemic is a healthcare crisis and there is a big healthcare response.
The years I spent supporting videoconferencing services at America’s largest HMO, I had endless conversations with doctors and administrators despairing how this technology had regulatory restrictions that denied payment for telemedicine services. CMS (the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid) would not reimburse healthcare provided through distance communication. And CMS is the largest single payer of health care. Naturally, this dampened exploration and use of conferencing tools.
But this is the year things changed: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic CMS moved swiftly to significantly expand payment for telehealth services” (CMS.gov Aug 3)
Many kinds of health care are perfect for Telemedicine. Pandemic aside, America’s aging population is growing and the need for medical care—particularly access to specialists—is going to increase. They will use AV collaboration and communication. Physicians are highly motivated to stretch any available technology to provide care for their patients. Extraordinary advances in telemedicine using AV technology are on the way.
About 60% of American workers are working from home since the pandemic. Notably Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and REI near Seattle have both shut down, abandoning plans to occupy the specially designed office space.
There has long been advantages to a workforce that works from home–advantages for both employers and employees. No commute, family time when the kids are awake, working flexible hours to accommodate different demands. Employers don’t have to pay for expensive real estate and utilities.
Unified conferencing and collaboration allows this to work. Mobility, security, communication from the click of a mouse are available to corporations for a fee.
It does take some adjusting. The kids and the pets come in and out of the camera frame. That’s being accepted.
Some managers may not know how to manage he remote direct reports. Nervous managers of the knowledge workers (so named by Peter Drucker) could micromanage remotely with the use of software and burdensome reports. Clumsy management databases have been around a long time.
But the opportunity to serve businesses with AV technology and with infrastructure solutions is compelling. Understanding the needs, fears and constraints of business is the first step to presenting the right solution. All the parts are here. The solution can be developed with a conversation.
These four verticals need AV answers. They are faced with new requirements and many people working in them are anxious and need reassurance. Our industry can give them hope. It is on us to recognize that we can know enough of what the future holds by seeing what is happening right now. We have the solutions that so many are asking for.
Even though there is a lot that is still uncertain, this is a time of opportunity and a time to reach out. We know this technology very well, and can make the disruption easier for others who don’t.