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prashant

In the last few years, audio visual (AV) technologies have gone through a major shift, thanks to the advent of cloud and software based applications. While global enterprises are looking for advanced AV solutions for seamless business communication and collaboration, System Integrators (SIs) and channel partners are also seeing huge potential in the enterprise AV market. HARMAN Professional Solutions, a global organization in the enterprise AV space brings a wide range of IT solutions for today’s businesses. With a team of audio, lighting, video and control experts, the company has a stronghold in the entertainment and enterprise segments. The US-based company also offers solutions for a variety of industries, including cinema, retail, recording, broadcast, corporate, education, government, hospitality, among others.
In an exclusive interaction with Channel Times, Prashant Govindan, Sr. Director, India & SAARC, Harman Professional Solutions, explains what’s trending in the enterprise AV space, the challenges and opportunities, and the changing role of SIs in the marketplace.

Channel Times: What are some of the interesting or key installation projects that the company has participated in recently over the past year?
Prashant Govindan:
The key projects that we have participated include the installations at the Raj Path, the Republic Day Parade audio system and the Zunheboto Sumi Baptist Church in Nagaland.

Channel Times: What are some of the major AV trends you have observed in the marketplace? What do you think are the reasons towards the trending?
Prashant Govindan:
The major trends we have observed especially in enterprise AV is the continuing convergence of IT and AV systems, the move towards simpler and more intuitive collaboration and conferencing systems and the emergence of voice-activated control systems. The main reasons for these trends is overall benefits derived from convergence, better manageability, lower maintenance cost, better information security and more intuitive control. Customers are opting for systems that they can manage internally with existing IT resources and within their existing IT security policies.

Channel Times: In this age of technology disruption and value-chain consolidation, how do you think the role of system integrators has changed in the grand scheme of things?
Prashant Govindan:
System integrators need to now don the hats of complete solution providers in order to stay competitive. Merely selling devices and maintenance will no longer help them to maintain an edge. Focus on value added services and offerings such as acoustic engineering, augmented reality, remote monitoring & control and integration with other systems such as building management, providing analytics on usage, energy consumption and resource management will set them aside from the rest of the pack.

Channel Times: Integration being a big part in the AV industry, what are some of the challenges and opportunities you would anticipate in the near horizon?
Prashant Govindan:
The system integration industry is in the middle of a sea change both in terms of technology and also in terms of go-to-market. In terms of technology integration is beset with challenges with the bridging of the analog-digital divide. AV systems that were firmly in the analog domain for the best part of the last couple of decades is turning digital with a vengeance. With almost all signals now residing on standard networks it’s imperative for the SI community to embrace and be the champions of convergence. This is where the IT system integrator with CAT-6 cable and a crimping tool in hand is challenging them. What remains an opportunity then for the AV integrator is the vast body of domain knowledge in audio, video, telecommunications, control and lighting technologies that is so essential in providing the differentiator. In the end the experience delivered will be the only differentiator and with the knowledge of IT systems, protocols, security and integration of these into AV applications, the AV integrator can truly become the champion of the next level of AV technologies.

Channel Times: What new technology is/are on your radar right now? Why? How will that affect or drive the market going forward?
Prashant Govindan:
I would bet my money on three technologies that have the potential to transform the industry:
IoT (Internet of Things) – This is something that has been spoken about since the dawn of the Internet, but still remains a pipe-dream especially in the AV space. With computing and storage already moving to the cloud there is a paradigm shift of how AV assets are managed and controlled. Combined with machine learning and AI, the benefits of a bunch of IoT devices learning and implementing smart changes with over-the-air updates cannot be underestimated. For instance, imagine how energy usage can be tracked with occupancy sensors, actual power consumption, pattern recognition and analytics leading to smarter and more efficient workspaces. In the hospitality industry this could be a boon as this has direct impact on the cost and ultimately profitability of the hotel property.
Augmented reality – Much has been said and written about augmented reality from the time the first VR headsets emerged. The key here is how to apply these to solve real business problems. As we continue to learn to apply some of the learnings from industries such as aviation, medicine and design we will figure out how to build truly immersive experiences that enhance and impact our businesses.
Voice recognition and control – While we are seeing a plethora of voice assistants in the consumer space, we are yet to meaningfully employ the technology in business beyond playing music or ordering pizza. The true game changer would be when voice recognition combined with analytics would not only help with business decisions, but also enable smarter workflows. A lot of this work is happening in the cloud and back end computing and not necessarily in the voice recognition domain alone.