3 Dances of AV/IT Ownership: The Good, Bad, and Two-Left Feet


3 DancesBy Jennifer Willard On May 24, 2015

There will be no shortage of talk at InfoComm15 on AV/IT Convergence, Unified Communications, and what technology trend is on the horizon once we fully migrate AV transmission to an IP-converged network backbone.

I’d argue beyond any technology solution there’s one essential enterprise component more critical and overlooked results in success or failure in an AV/IT IP-converged solution: Ownership.

The term is as broad as it is a fixed concept for any an organization’s business application. Sounds cut and dry—who’s responsible for what, when, where, how, and the elusive why. So why would there be any snafus in assigning ownership if it’s so straightforward?

Troubleshooting a field service issue is the easiest way to illustrate the ownership dance between AV and IT and why defining roles and responsibilities long before you receive the call to action is essential.

Meeting Participant

My IP-videoconference call won’t get the video signal on the projector pressing the touch panel on the table. I can hear and talk to the other office.

AV Technician

AV staff have identified there is no obvious AV hardware failure and the loss of video signal is somewhere on the technical infrastructure and requires IT staff to assist further with troubleshooting.

And, here’s where the party starts. How well you executed your ownership business strategy between the AV and IT divisions will result in resolving the issue like tearing it up as the Macarena or more like Dancing With the Stars.

  1. Technical Support

Good: AV staff has direct access to a 24/7/365 IT Network Engineer assigned to AV service requests and educated on AV QoS transmission requirements and protocols.

Bad: AV staff has IT Help Desk toll-free number where a ticket is created and put in the queue with failing computer keyboards, lost cellphones, and paper jams on copiers.

  1. Technical Infrastructure

Good: AV staff has access and control for direct entry and administrator rights into AV/IT physical spaces, hardware/software components and profile configurations, and clear demarcation points on devices end-to-end in the building

Bad: AV staff has no central database of contact information and physical room specs responsible for management and physical access to IDF closets, ceiling and cable pathways, and network routers and servers. 

  1. Procurement and Purchasing Authority

Good: AV staff has allocated budget and procurement authority to purchase one-time capital equipment and services, and fund annual operations and maintenance contracts. AV and IT clearly separated purchasing responsibilities for all shared IP-converged equipment and technical infrastructure.

Bad: AV staff is assigned to migrate AV transmission onto the IP-converged network solely managed by IT and has no access to data on budget, no collaborative project management and limited coordination potentially resulting in redundant purchases, schedule delays, and budget overruns.

Why are any of these Ownership matters tied to the end result? Simply put, are you the party guest that gets everyone moving on the dance floor or sits watching and cringing as your two left feet get you voted off the show?

Jennifer H. Willard, CTS, is an award-winning, international speaker on AV design and construction in the judicial, law enforcement, and corporate environments. As founder and president of J Technology Solutions, she provides 17 years of AV/IT design and construction project management, standards development, and strategic business planning for architects, consultants, building trades, and AV systems integrators word-wide. She can be reached via jhwillard@gmail.com.