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The Value of an AV Service Agreement

 

The value of an AV service agreement is more than just dollars and cents. Working with a trusted AV service provider on a long term basis ensures your AV system continues running smoothly, and facilitates quicker fixes for problems that may arise. This blog walks you through some of the most important topics to consider when deciding whether to seek out an AV service agreement.

Use an AV Service Agreement to Better Maintain Your Equipment

There’s a common saying in the automotive repair industry, “Pay me now, or pay me later.” It’s a little cheeky, but we all know we need to maintain our vehicles with oil changes at the right intervals, and provide loving care to our belts and hoses. Otherwise, as the saying suggests, we’ll pay for it later in the form of more costly repairs.

Even though you can’t hop into your AV system and take a spin, the same approach to maintaining your equipment and technology applies. Proactive preventive maintenance is the key to lowering long term AV costs. Proper system maintenance on a regular basis ensures less headaches down the road. Using an AV service agreement is an important way to ensure optimum equipment performance and longevity.

Streamline AV Support

When you build a relationship with your AV service provider, you can experience faster resolution to problems that arise because the entire process is streamlined. If you have a smaller AV system, you may not have a permanent member of your staff who takes charge of AV, and your AV service provider can help to fulfill that role. The last thing you want is to experience system downtime while you seek a solution to your AV problem. A good AV service provider becomes part of your team.

A good AV service provider has:

  • Automatic scheduling process ensures that preventive maintenance is performed in a strategic manner
  • Preferential scheduling for contract customers who need a repair.
  • Great technicians that get to know your technology, your people and your needs mean easier maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Clear, consistent payment system that allows you to plan ahead and put budgets in the right place for maximizing the value of your AV system and limiting unexpected costs.
  • Discounts for contract customers on consumables like lamps, free shipping on supplies like batteries for wireless microphones, and discounted after-hours rates.
Sound Masking

Fixing the Open Office Floor Plan

 

Not long ago, open office floor plans were the biggest trend in office spaces. Businesses believed they could spend less money creating the space, and also foster collaboration and improve employee morale at the same time. However, the plan seems to have backfired. Open floor plans make no allowance for personal space, or the need for a quiet place to work. Instead of increasing productivity and satisfaction, employees complain of constant distractions and irritation.

Problems with the Open Floor

Specific problems vary from office to office—not all employees working in open office plans experience as many issues with noise or problems with visual distractions. However, there are common problems associated with most open floor offices:

  • Productivity decreases. This happens for numerous reasons, but is generally due to the large number of distractions that occur when many people work in shared spaces.
  • Employee happiness falls. Most people like to be able to work in peace, and open offices deny them that ability.
  • Distractions abound. Distractions destroy motivation, interrupt production, and generally annoy employees.
  • Employees are sick more. Open offices not only increase stress but are also a perfect platform for spreading illnesses.
  • They foster mistrust. Employees sometimes believe open floor plans mean their managers don’t trust them and want to be able to look over their shoulders.
  • Competitions arise. In any open office plan, there are always a few private offices for the higher-ups. Employees will sometimes fight over who gets a newly available private office.
  • They end up costing more. Yes, open floor offices cost less to build. However, because they lower employee productivity so steeply, they quickly result in a net loss.

Restoring Order and Productivity

Companies can do several things to increase productivity and employee morale. These include:

  • Flexible work schedules. Companies that allow their employees to telecommute can reduce the number of people working in an open office space, leading to fewer distractions and an increase in productivity. Flexible work schedules also raise employee morale.
  • Workplace culture. Feeling like part of a larger whole improves employee satisfaction and motivation. Open floor offices can allow for a strong company culture to develop, and organizations need to encourage this.
  • Noise-canceling headphones go a long way toward eliminating noisy distractions that discourage workers.
  • Movable furniture and private spaces. An open floor plan is all about allowing people to collaborate. Movable furniture enables employees to work together as a group, and then separate for individual work. This can help remove distractions and still foster collaboration.
  • Hybrid floor plans. Similar to having an open floor plan with mobile furniture, a hybrid floor plan creates spaces for groups and more private areas for individuals.
  • Alternatives to sitting. Sitting for too many hours a day is unhealthy. Moving around promotes blood flow to the brain, increases thinking capabilities as well as improves mood. Businesses can include seating alternatives such as yoga mats, treadmills, and standing workstations as part of an open office floor plan.
  • Free seating. If a company wants to promote working relationships and collaboration with an open office, they might want to avoid specific seating arrangements. Allow people to discover which colleagues they work best with and productivity will increase.

Open office floor plans have tremendous potential, but managers and business leaders must carefully assess what kind of office plan suits the work done in the office and the company culture as a whole. Done well, an open office can strike a fine balance between flexibility and productivity.

Digital Transformation for Healthcare

Digital Transformations Benefit Hospitals and Patients

 

Technology does more than simply make things easier for us—in the medical field, advances in technology save lives. Progress in health care technology results in more accurate patient data, the ability to treat patients in remote areas, improved surgical bays, and streamlined nurses’ stations, among other large-scale benefits.

Save Lives with Robotic and Laparoscopic Surgery

Even minor surgical procedures can be risky. Complications are always a concern, no matter how skilled the surgeon or advanced the tools, but technical innovations in the methods and instruments available to health care professionals can help minimize these risks.

One of the most important advances in the surgical field in recent years has been the development and improvement of laparoscopic surgeries. Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and requires small incisions, some less than half an inch in length, and minimal recovery. On the other hand, traditional surgeries require large incisions and longer recovery time; larger incisions also carry larger risks of infection and other complications.

The tools and methods of laparoscopic surgery continue to improve. Surgical robots that can perform tasks on a finer scale and with greater accuracy are being developed. 3-D imaging and high-resolution cameras allow surgeons to have a clearer view of the surgical area; better access and clearer visuals is a win-win for patients and surgeons.

Ensure Accuracy When It Matters Most

Accuracy is crucial in the medical field. If a patient is diagnosed or treated based on incorrect information, the results can be catastrophic. Advances in data entry and patient records allow medical professionals to access the most complete and precise patient information, which is vital when lives are on the line and quick decisions are necessary.

Save Time and Effort with Digital Data Entry

Hospital information systems are commonly redundant, requiring staff to enter the same patient data into multiple forms or pull data from various systems. This slows the workflow, reducing productivity and negatively impacting the speed of patient care.

When hospital staff can access patient backgrounds, medical information, test results, and other data from their smartphones or tablets, the speed and accuracy of patient care is vastly improved. Improved digital communication tools allow medical teams to stay on the same page when treating patients, as well as share information and expertise if a patient is transferred to another facility. Cloud computing links medical centers for data sharing, resulting in less redundancy and more time for patient care.

Reach Out with Telehealth and Video Conferencing

In some parts of the world, including our own country, people struggle to receive even basic medical care. New video conferencing and other communications technologies have given rise to the field of “telehealth,” which allows underserved populations to have access to medical care. In addition, physicians who encounter complicated cases can easily reach out to other specialists for assistance. Top uses of telehealth include patient consultations, virtual office visits, stroke care, and psychotherapy and psychiatric examinations.

The use of such technology is limitless and is especially helpful for those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems. A trip to a doctor’s office may exacerbate an illness, especially if all a patient needs is a simple answer to a question. Additionally, those who may be carrying a contagious virus are better served away from a patient waiting room, where many who are already ill can be further exposed to dangerous viruses.

As technology continues to evolve, hospitals and medical personnel will enjoy vast improvements in tools and procedures. The digital transformation of the medical field continues to enhance patient care and improve health outcomes. Spinitar wants to share case studies and experiences of healthcare organizations on how they are using audio, visual, and communication technologies. Contact us today!

PSNI - Audio Visual Services

Better Audio Visual Services Through Partnership: PSNI

 

Spinitar is a proud member of the Professional Systems Network International (PSNI), a nationwide network of leaders in audio visual services and unified communication integration. This alliance allows us to provide you with audio-visual and unified communication design, integration, installation, and support services across the United States and Canada.

 

Wherever you work, we can be there.

The PSNI affiliate network meets the requirements best suited to support multi-site, multi-city, and multi-country audio-visual services needs, including:

  • Single-source national coordination, deployment, and project management of pre- and on-site fabricated systems
  • Embedded personnel, crisis and preventative services
  • Established partnerships with enablers, architects, consultants, specialty designers, and contract support
  • Consistent wiring, design, products and software programming at each location
  • On-site staff professionalism for seamless integration and future service/support needs at each location
  • Priority integration and timeline/deadline management to meet client requirements

Spinitar and the PSNI affiliates are a group of award-winning independently owned companies providing exceptional value to and adhering to the highest audio-visual industry standards.

 

Cloud-Based-Security-AV

Four Ways to Ease Security Concerns Surrounding Cloud-Based Technology

Although hardware-only technology setups still exist, they’re rapidly being replaced with cloud-based solutions. In the specific cases of the audio visual (AV) and unified communications (UC) industries, most systems are rooted in cloud technology because of its ability to streamline processes, improve collaboration, bolster interoperability, and foster the success of an increasingly remote workforce. While the growth is real, so are the challenges. How safe are these tools in the cloud, especially with the prevalence of cyber attacks? Here are four ways to keep your company safe as you turn to cloud-based AV or UC solutions.

  1. Train your employees on the do’s and don’ts of the cloud technology. It’s one thing to give your team access to a new on-the-job tool, but it’s another thing entirely to teach them how (and how not) to use it. Thorough training is especially important when you consider that the annual tally of security breaches on businesses continues to rise. In fact, a recent study by PwC found that last year, the number of total security incidents increased by the biggest percentage in 12 years—a whopping 38 percent. The study also found intellectual property was especially appealing to cyber criminals, as thefts of that nature increased by 56 percent. In essence, adding employees to cloud platforms means you’re making them data gatekeepers, and you must take the time to train them on the implications of their actions in those roles.
  1. Ensure all your departments are on the same page when it comes to cyber security. Everyone in your company should be on-board with cyber security as a business priority, even if it involves extra steps on their part (like 2-part authentication, stronger passwords, etc.). The aforementioned PwC study found this collaborative security focus to be a trend on the rise, as 24 percent of respondents increased security budgets last year. As budgets must filter through many departments (including the c-suite), this proves that investing in cyber security is no longer just an IT topic but a move that keeps companies both competitive and protected.
  1. Find the right encryption software that works in conjunction with your UC system. Opting for a cloud-based UC system makes sense for many companies, and encrypting is an essential way to protect your information—either real-time communications or call signaling data—from security breaches ranging from eavesdropping to theft. As part of a UC system, encryption should be the strongest available (four kilobit public key), be easy for IT administrators to implement, and be managed by a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider.
  1. Follow security guidelines set forth by the laws and regulations pertaining to your industry. It’s not possible to sidestep regulations or cut corners on industry standards and still keep your data—and your entire business—out of trouble. You can substantially mitigate your risk for security breaches by adhering to security guidelines specific to your industry, as many markets (like the financial and healthcare sectors) have special rules for the handling of their hypersensitive data. View these mandated security measures as the minimum requirements and go upwards from there for maximum data safety.

It’s true that many businesses are turning to the cloud, and it’s true that there are security risks associated with that move. It’s unlikely you can guarantee your business will never suffer from any sort of security breach—in fact, two-thirds of large companies have been victims of data breaches in the past year alone. It is, however, possible, to greatly reduce your risk of such an event by adhering to the regulations set forth by your industry, using encryption with your cloud-based UC system, and supporting security from both a budgetary and training standpoint.

Visual Learning Strategies

How Visual Learning Strategies and Tools Impact a Student’s Performance

A lot of us forget what it was like to be a kid in a classroom. We forget what it was like to try and hold our attention on a lesson instead of doodling in our notebook — sitting in classrooms day in and day out, while teachers drilled information into our minds that always seemed to want to drift off to lunch and recess. We parents and educators read gobs of research regarding different learning styles and how to best get through to our children. Yet, we forget to recall what it was like to have that one wacky teacher who involved us in the lesson, who used puppets and other visuals to engage our emotions and create unique moments in our long term memory that could be called upon easily during a test. While not all teachers can be puppeteers, there are powerful visual learning toolkits out there that teachers can use to engage their students creatively.

Visual Learning Works…When Visual Learning Tools/Assets Aren’t Ugly

Studies show that 60% of students learn best when visual learning tools are presented. However, in order for that stat to endure, the visual assets being used must reach a certain level of quality. When visual learning assets in a classroom fail, it is typically for the same reason any visual collateral would fail: they don’t look great and thus fail to send a message or create engagement.

Think of how you feel when you are handed an awful-looking brochure. Your mind probably gets confused for a second before you toss it in the trash. Students react similarly when they are presented cluttered, busy, or thrown together posters or print-outs created by a teacher who has not been formally trained to design a visually appealing layout from scratch. When this type of design is left up to a teacher, not only does it become time-consuming, but it limits how effective and creative they can be. Simply providing teachers with a printer and Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation is not enough.

Using Design Templates And Themes In Your Visual Learning Strategies To Improve Retention

A proper visual learning toolkit will come with easy to use software that takes away the need to be a professional designer by providing a host of templated design layouts for teachers to choose from. Now, go back to being a kid in a classroom. Imagine you are learning about geology and the different kinds of rocks. Every day, you sit down at your desk and there is a different print out for you and, for once, the pictures are appealing and the text is easy to read. In the daily printouts, the teacher takes you through the epic adventures of a fun cartoon character as he travels around the world, getting into trouble and finding different types of rocks everywhere he goes. Doesn’t that sound more fun and impactful than staring at a poorly designed alternative?

Picture3.spinitar

Characters/avatars and pictures are just a few of the fun and useful elements that can be easily used in visual learning strategies. Teachers can also take photographs of the class to use in the designs as a fun way of reinforcing key concepts. Visual elements like graphs, charts, infographics, icons and illustrations are all available to augment text and provide visuals that are more engaging to students. When you remove the obstacles and arm teachers with options, their creativity can really shine through.

“Visual learning strategies, like 3D prints and posters, provide a static reminder for a student” shared Paul Huff, a former teacher who now works with schools to implement visual learning tools. “Once a lesson has been presented, the whiteboard is erased, the handout put away, and/or the book is closed. Having static visuals in the classroom allows an opportunity for the student to re-approach a concept without the assistance of a teacher. This opportunity not only refreshes a student’s memory of a concept, but allows more complex lessons to be presented again that helps reinforce a sequence of events.”

How Visual Learning Tools Affect Performance

Creating engagement in the classroom allows students to feel as though they are a part of the lesson, but whether or not a lesson is more fun and engaging ultimately only matters if it also yields results, right? Well, a recent study by Richard E. Mayer showed that students who received coordinated presentation of explanations in verbal and visual format generated a median of over 75% more creative solutions on problem-solving transfer tests than did students who received verbal explanations alone.¹ In a separate test performed by Richard E. Mayer it was discovered that when the average student is engaged in higher-order thinking using multimedia in interactive situations, on average, that student’s percentage ranking on higher-order or transfer skills increases by 32 percentile points over what the student would have accomplished with traditional learning.² These studies along with a host of other research studies demonstrate that visual learning methods are not just more enjoyable, but also more effective.

Teachers have always had an exceptionally difficult job, having the distinct challenge of educating an entire class of children, all with different levels of intellect, capacities for learning and attention spans. They already have to develop their own curriculums and styles of teaching, let’s commit to giving them the tools that help them succeed and impactfully educate our youth.

[Source: Mayer. R Educational Psychologist, Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions?]

How Videoconferencing Is Changing the Legal System

Just as the business world is realizing the potential of video collaboration, so is the legal profession. The legal sector is reaping the benefits of video technology through training programs, proactive security measures, effective communication, overall cost savings, and more.

Communication is key to effective business operations in every industry. While face-to-face meetings have always been a preferable way to communicate, travel expenses and setting aside time for everyone to convene can be a costly process, and many industries, such as finance and healthcare, still rely on the tried and true methods of phone and email. That said, these somewhat impersonal mediums often lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and delays in response time. And, while healthcare comes in at a close second, nowhere are the types of communication issues mentioned above more important to avoid than in our legal system.

Improved Training and Streamlining Internal Processes

Young lawyers entering the profession are more likely to readily adopt new forms of technology. Many of today’s fresh law-school graduates can scarcely remember a time before computers or video technology. Video collaboration can improve new lawyer training and streamline legal processes: For example, employees in search of guidance or the latest research can access collaboration sites, and use chat functions to bat around thoughts and ideas with their peers. Video also allows training to be recorded, providing a handy resource which staff can access with the click of a button, together with key documents and resources. Young lawyers are also “always learning,” and their futures hinge on the cases they assist on when articling. Video collaboration helps senior partners interact more efficiently with their juniors, and also ensures teams working on a case together can collaborate from anywhere, at any time. Consistent updates and collaboration makes the case process faster, improving the entire firm’s productivity.

Ensuring Security

Attorneys regularly work with sensitive client information they’re duty-bound to keep private, and communication over email leaves the attorney/client privilege vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Video collaboration offers a much more secure way to interact with clients and other lawyers, exchanging private information and ideas. An AV system also works to protect case files, storing everything in a secure digital format with password protection.

Making Legal Access Easier and More Efficient

Michigan is one state leading the way when it comes to progressively using new technology, especially video, in their court systems. Their “Online Court Project” (developed by University of Michigan researchers) allows citizens who have received minor traffic tickets to challenge them online, from the comfort of their homes or offices. No more lost time off work, and no more crowded courtrooms full of irate drivers.

Also, according to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, “…videoconferencing equipment has been installed in every courtroom in 77 counties. These 351 “virtual courtrooms” allow for video arraignments from jail or testimony from prison, helping jurisdictions at all levels be more efficient. As a result, instead of physically transporting inmates, the Michigan Department of Corrections conducted 4,058 “video” transports over the past year, saving taxpayers more than $2.6 million, not to mention reducing the risks associated with transporting dangerous criminals. Eventually, these virtual courts will help reduce costs in civil cases by permitting your lawyer to conduct routine court business in their offices without having to travel to court.” Impressive stats, no matter which way you look at them.

Expert Witnesses

The success of a case may hinge upon expert witness testimony. Attorneys often turn to outside sources like forensic accountants or other experts to support their case, and/or help them build arguments. Lawyers are no longer limited to local professionals; with video collaboration, they can connect with the most experienced people from any location in the country. Firms no longer settle for second best—by harnessing the power of video technology, the most renowned specialists are at their fingertips.

Lawyers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from video technology. The legal industry as a whole is realizing AV system applications. Between the growing potential for quick and effective court processes and the ability to help train the next generation of lawyers, video collaboration is leading the way to a more efficient legal system, from top to bottom.

AV Equipment

What’s Your Outdated AV Equipment Really Costing You?

 

Our clients routinely tell us that technology updates are their largest, unplanned expenses. At first glance, spending money on maintaining and replacing your audio visual (AV) system may not seem like a necessary investment, but an outdated or unreliable system could be costing you far more than you realize. Let’s look at a few of the expenses you may not have considered.

Loss of Potential Customers

A mistake we often see is that companies don’t consider on-site, customer visits a part of their brand experience. In reality, everything from how your receptionist greets visitors to the cleanliness of your bathrooms can make a large impact on how potential customers view your brand. Most importantly, however, where do we most often take our visitors? Conference rooms.
Consider this scenario: your beautiful conference room with leather chairs and oak table is prepared with bottled water and a logoed pen and paper at every seat. There are even snacks, sweets, and coffee at the back of the room. Then you start up your presentation on an old projector that no one can see because of the sun is shining in the room. Throughout the meeting, you have to yell to the people sitting across the room because your audio system went down a few months prior.
Just like a nice website or a chic office space, there’s something to be said for bright, new, shiny, state-of-the art AV technology. It makes an impression on people and can alter the way a company is viewed by visitors.

Space and Energy Costs

We’ve seen otherwise nice, large conference rooms collect dust because the AV system badly needed a refresh. This is an area where cost can be hard to identify, but if conference rooms, huddle spaces, auditoriums, etc. are not being used, you are paying for unused space. That’s money down the drain. Not to mention the loss of productivity that these rooms were designed to facilitate. It really doesn’t take much, a dim projector, a fuzzy display, or poor audio and a room is suddenly no longer useful.
More often than not, failing to make updates to AV systems can lead to a bunch of smaller expenses that make an impact in the long run. The large cost of putting a VP or guest speaker on a plane can normally be avoided using video conferencing methods like GoToMeeting or Skype, but staff members lose this option when AV systems aren’t functioning well. Newer AV systems are also significantly more energy efficient. That means additional savings going directly to your bottom line.

IT Time and Expense

Now let’s look at maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair from your IT staff’s point of view. Although digital options have been available for some time now, there are older systems around that are using analog solutions. Organizations that are still using analog should seriously consider upgrading to a newer, digital AV system because it can be connected to the company’s network. This helps the IT crew monitor the system, complete maintenance tasks, and resolve issues faster. They’d be the first to tell you that networkable systems are much easier to manage, update, and fix when broken. Having network access makes their jobs easier, and it minimizes downtime.
Large enterprise customers and those with multiple spaces or locations will experience significant benefits with network-integrated AV systems. Issues can be fixed remotely, saving time and travel expense. This is also a big convenience for those using managed IT services instead of in-house staffing.

Employee Morale and Retention

Qualified and reliable workers are hard to find and keep these days. AV systems that won’t seem to work, or systems that don’t get repaired in a timely manner, are a huge source of frustration for your employees. Lack of proper training on how to use the systems can also be a big culprit here.
Nobody wants to fight with uncooperative equipment in front of a conference room full of co-workers, or worse, a client. Up-to-date technology and proper training make for a less stressful work environment and can help employees feel valued and happier with their jobs. Hiring and training new staff is almost always more expensive than keeping those you already have.

Upfront Costs vs. Long-Term Savings

When our customers sit down with us to discuss upgrading or replacing their current AV systems, often times they only see the costs of products and implementation services involved. However, there are many benefits and savings associated with newer technology. Today’s equipment can provide valuable opportunities in the areas of video conferencing, remote access, and professional presentations that win new clients. We’d love to sit down and talk with you about these exciting possibilities as it relates to your business.

Spinitar-CTA- Showroom

Interactive Technology WayFinding

How Interactive Wayfinding Is Helping the Visually Impaired



From GPS voice navigation to VoiceOver mode on smartphones, technology has come a long way in helping the visually impaired achieve independence. Until now, however, the visually impaired have had to deal with a roadblock known as the “last mile” problem. The “last mile” problem is what happens when existing wayfinding applications lose the signal once users get inside of buildings, leaving them at a loss.

Discover New Ways to Wayfind

Touch-responsive and interactive wayfinding may hold the key to empowering the blind and visually impaired through independent navigation. The Carroll Center for the Blind has a new series of talking, touch-responsive maps that sense the location of a user’s touch on its surface and announce information about that particular feature. Campus maps have touchable, 3D images while building interior maps use raised and textured surfaces for navigation. The blind and visually impaired can explore these maps using their hands and fingers and memorize the directions for walking to their destinations.

Another interactive indoor navigation tool is the PERCEPT app, developed at the University of Massachusetts. The PERCEPT app incorporates interactive spaces with which users can interact in real time. It is useful for when a user’s destination changes often, like when traveling by subway when there is a detoured route or construction within the station. This means the PERCEPT app provides detailed navigation instructions that take into account any changes to a destination’s physical layout.

Incorporate Wayfinding Navigation

Interactive wayfinding solutions are a helpful resource in schools for the blind. The Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, has talking touch-screen maps that respond with the names of each building and road; the maps are equipped to handle four users at once.

Other facilities are also incorporating interactive, touch-based wayfinding maps for indoor navigation. Talking maps at Chicago Lighthouse use overhead video projection to illuminate a talking map on an interactive surface. The San Diego Museum of Art recently installed a few touch-responsive talking tactile exhibits thanks to Touch Graphics. Developments like iBeacon have the potential to bring interactive wayfinding to the public sphere in regular shopping malls and plazas. iBeacon works with the BlindSquare app, a version of Foursquare for the blind and visually impaired, to help users navigate spaces such as malls.

During a test, the creators of iBeacon installed the technology in strategic locations in a mall in Finland. Users accessed their smartphones’ BlindSquare app when they passed an iBeacon, which communicated aloud using multisensory technology. With the help of iBeacon, blind and visually impaired people can hear their location and receive directions to their next destination. As awareness for the blind and visually impaired grows, interactive wayfinding technology is growing as well.

Track the Growing Trend Toward Interactive Wayfinding

The future of smarter accessibility for the blind and visually impaired looks bright. As more establishments recognize the importance of implementing interactive wayfinding, the trend towards accessibility is more prevalent. Predictions for the future are based on touch becoming a more important aspect of device interaction. Indoor navigation maps only scratch the surface of what’s possible. Touch has the potential to revolutionize the daily life of the blind and visually impaired. As touch moves toward 3D, users can imagine endless possibilities, such as interactive sculptures, steering wheels, shopping carts, etc. In short, talking map installations are just the beginning.

IT/AV Convergence

AV Integrators: How to Keep Pace with the IT World


In the past, AV integrators were safe in their niche. Their specialized skillsets filled a clear void in the industry that other technological solutions couldn’t address. Today, however, the lines between AV and IT aren’t as clearly defined. AV professionals must incorporate IT skills in order to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Understanding Barriers to AV Industry Growth

Today, IT companies are dominating the communications field because they have the ability to do it all. From AV setups to network support and security administration, companies are offering a complete set of digital communications solutions with which AV-only companies simply can’t compete. In addition to limited IT skills, AV companies must keep pace with the latest trends in the industry. Cloud computing/mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing how consumers use communications platforms.

To meet the needs of consumers who expect seamlessly connected controls of lighting, temperature, sound, visual components, and access control, AV companies must expand their business viewpoints to include the latest unified communications trends. Sensor-based tracking, remote servers and support (AV-as-a-Service), and mobile device adoption are trends changing what it means to communicate using technology.

AV companies can bolster IT skills and enact a culture of change to better compete in today’s technology-driven world—but only if they accept this new direction. The blended nature of IT and AV is natural, and it’s already happening in the business world. Companies that want to move forward must learn to continually adapt to the changing nature of digital communications.

Building a Culture that Embraces IT

Technological changes in universal areas—such as communications, networking, and security—trickle down into every industry. To remain relevant, many AV companies focused on the cutting-edge technology in sound systems and high-resolution video systems, such as 4K. Now, they must expand that focus to embrace a more complete communications experience. In addition to AV components, companies must consider bandwidth, networking, security, and managed services business models.

To start creating a shift, AV companies need the right balance of talent. Instead of hiring AV-exclusive professionals, consider hiring IT professionals with interest or experience in AV systems. With collaborative IT and AV professionals, companies can start to shift existing product offerings to more complete communications setups. Consider these tips to ensure that IT and AV goals remain aligned and provide customers with the best possible communications experience:

  • Expand away from a hardware-based business model. Hardware will always play a role in the AV industry, but as more customers prefer to rely on personal devices, AV companies may struggle to highlight the benefits of commercial-grade equipment. Expanding into a service-based model allows an AV company to manage the experience rather than the hardware.

  • Think about IT considerations early and often. AV systems that integrate with existing technology platforms naturally provide customers with more value than standalone systems. As businesses become accustomed to the idea of connectivity, they expect interoperability in technology-based equipment.

  • Understand the customer’s viewpoint. AV companies with IT expertise can act as a strategic partner in order to offer customers a full communications experience. Evaluate customer technology setups and individual industry trends to offer more insight into the strategic outcome of an implementation.

While IT and AV departments remain distinct, they’re inextricably connected. For AV companies to stay competitive with AV-capable IT firms, they must level the playing field with some IT experience of their own.

Embrace BYOD and Keep Your Company and Staff Secure

The BYOD (bring your own device) movement is becoming the new normal for interaction and collaboration by many of today’s businesses.

The latest report from Tyntec shows that in the U.S. more than 60 percent of employees use their personal phones for work purposes. While BYOD gives people greater flexibility and could result in a better work-life balance, it also presents many challenges for company security.

Due to increasing BYOD practices, a wide range of devices and applications are finding their way into organizations and their servers, often without the approval and knowledge on the IT department. This leads to the problem of Shadow IT or Stealth IT, where applications and solutions are being deployed without IT approval and management. Despite BYOD presenting major headaches for IT, employees tend to be more productive when they are permitted to use their own mobile devices for work, according to Aberdeen Group. Modern-day businesses demand the flexibility and increased productivity that BYOD can provide. People who use their smartphones for work tend to take care of work-related items after hours, and it’s invaluable for remote or traveling employees.

How do organizations balance the demands necessary to be successful with the increased risk to security that comes part and parcel with BYOD practices? The answer lies in closing the divide between IT and end users.

How IT Can Befriend BYOD

For a long time, IT had the final say in all company tech-related issues. With the consumerization of IT, the old legacy model is quickly eroding from the modern business culture. IT needs to stop working from behind sealed walls and try to work with and manage end users. They need to realize that tightening control over technology will adversely affect employee productivity, which is ultimately bad for business. Once IT understands the advantages that BYOD brings, they can help mitigate any threats and leverage the new opportunities it allows. But how do IT leaders do so while safeguarding company security? The views of Kevin Peypoldt, IS Director for Structural Integrity Associates, as shared in a ZDNet article, point to the answer:

“It starts with trusting the end user, building policy that protects both the end user’s freedoms and the organisation’s data and systems, and moves IT to enabling both the employee and building systems that balance access with security.”
For a BYOD policy to be truly successful, IT needs to partner with all the company’s employees. By working in tandem with the end users and gaining a new perspective, IT can be instrumental in helping a business flourish. However, without proper security measures, even the best BYOD initiatives can fail. This is why it’s vital to establish usage policies and best practices.

Ways to Encourage Use of BYOD and Secure Company Data

Incorporate BYOD policies. To make BYOD successful and reap its benefits, it is important for companies to establish usage policies. Let employees know what they can and cannot access on their personal devices. With policies in place, data will remain more secure and employees will be on the same page about BYOD best practices. MDM (mobile device management) proves to be an invaluable third-party software that will help IT keep company data secure.

Conduct regular upgrades. Today, smartphones and tablets are replaced faster than ever before as new technology gets quickly rolled out. When an employee gets a new mobile device, it is critical to remove access and data from the old device before it is handed down or sold to anyone else. IT should then install MDM software on the new device and make a record of the new phone. To prevent data theft, IT should perform regular audits to track unusual data usage patterns.

Develop wearable device policies. IT needs to be aware of any wearable devices and their implication on the network. It’s important to include wearables in any BYOD policies, such as how, when, and where to use, plus data storage guidelines. Some wearable devices are more of a threat than others, so IT should take measures to prevent potential data thefts.

Understand that BYOD goes beyond the workplace. When people are using their personal devices for work, the smartphones go where they go. That means work data can be at Aunt Tillie’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Because of this, it is essential for an organization to have BYOD policies about the usage and access outside of work. It may even be wise to only offer company access via VPN, which will help keep data more secure.
Update company policies on a regular basis. As technology evolves, so does the essence of BYOD, and company policies will also need to be changed or tweaked to keep up with innovations. Maintain an up-to-date BYOD policy as new devices and new technology is introduced.

BYOD Best Practices

To leverage all the benefits of BYOD, it’s essential to follow certain best practices. Here are some BYOD management best practices which allow IT to secure data and help improve productivity.

• BYOD policies should clearly outline what can be and can’t be accessed on personal devices.
• Policy guidelines should be clear and compliance should be mandatory.
• Include all possible devices and their usage in the company BYOD policy.
• Policies should specify the use of Wi-Fi networks as a concern for data security.
• Policies must include clauses regarding loss, theft, exit policies, and technical issues.
• Make sure even the top executives and their devices adhere to the company BYOD policies.
• Create secure credentials for employees to use for accessing company data.

Technology is at the core of BYOD, but its true success lies with people who use it. IT needs to understand the advantages and take the necessary steps to establish best practices and policies for the new BYOD workplace, rather than trying to curb it. It may always be a delicate balance between productivity and network security, but with employees and IT working hand-in-hand to make the new normal benefit everyone, the sky’s the limit.

Spinitar wants to empower your people and simplify technology for you. Contact us today! (800) 722-6444

Resources:
http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/answer/How-can-IT-managers-prevent-negative-BYOD-network-impact?utm_medium=EM&asrc=EM_ERU_46046989&utm_campaign=20150806_ERU%20Transmission%20for%2008/06/2015%20(UserUniverse:%201669425)_myka-reports@techtarget.com&utm_source=ERU&src=5414284
http://searchcloudapplications.techtarget.com/opinion/Ten-BYOD-management-best-practices
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241645
http://www.cio.com/article/2396336/byod/all-about-byod.html
IT/AV Convergence

MSPs and the Evolution of Security Services

Businesses today are aware of their technological needs but they are also worried about the future and potential risks.

Taking advantage of services offered by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is attractive, but frequent headlines in the media about data breaches and leaks have managers seriously wondering just how secure the cloud is. And the rising trend of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) adds another layer of concern. Security as a Service (SaaS), cloud security, offers valuable solutions to these very issues.

MSPs manage a company’s IT needs remotely. They depend on security to keep their clients information safe while still making it accessible from anywhere. Here are five points to help you better understand cloud SaaS and how MSPs can incorporate them:

  1. SaaS (Security as a Service) is an outsourced model for security management. A security provider’s offerings may include malware protection and encryption products, and these products are usually delivered over the Internet. SaaS is not limited to just the virtual world, it can also become part of an in-house security plan.
  1. Customers need to know what cloud-delivered security offers so they can better assess their individual needs. With the ever growing trend of cloud computing, security, especially encryption of information and devices, has become a point of interest. This area is projected to grow the fastest, along with web application firewalls, SIEM (security information and event management), and vulnerability assessment.
  1. A good security service provider should offer additional in-demand security measures: comprehensive email security; identity and access management; virus definition updates, so they are not left to unreliable or untrained employees; faster user provisions; and a software interface in-house IT teams will use to get an overall picture of how security is going.
  1. SaaS outsources busywork tasks like log management, saving both time and money. This is yet another incentive for companies to say “yes” to their current MPSs security packages.
  1. MSPs and cloud security are the perfect pairing. For MSPs not acquiring these customers they need to get in the game before they miss out. The market is big, it’s growing and there are more and more businesses looking for these kinds of services. There is even the opportunity to offer comprehensive packages that pair cloud security with device and operational security services.

The increasing demand for secure cloud services moves a company’s needs beyond traditional IT security. Now is the perfect time for MSPs to develop all-inclusive Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) packages that include physical, operational, device, and cloud security.

Spinitar understands that maximizing employee time, maximizing space usage, and guaranteeing up time are critical to your operations. We take the time to understand you and your message in order to design and build a collaborative environment that helps you share and disseminate your message more effectively. Recognizing that you require us to be fast and responsive, to have IT and AV experience, and to have customer service expertise, we at Spinitar are dedicated to helping you communicate and operate more efficiently.

Spinitar is an APEX Audiovisual Provider of Excellence - InfoComm International

InfoComm International’s AV Provider of Excellence, Spinitar’s APEx Certification

Spinitar is excited to announce its most recent and notable certification – APEx.

APEx stands for Audiovisual Provider of Excellence. To date InfoComm International, the global trade association committed to advancing the audiovisual industry, has certified less than 30 companies worldwide as a qualified AV Integrator to be given this prestigious APEx designation.

This designation validates that Spinitar has not only structured processes and certified staff, but that there is a dedication to quality integration and excellent customer service in every facet of our work. This differentiates us from our competition beyond manufacturer and CTS Certifications.

In order to set ourselves apart, Spinitar met the five APEx Certification requirements. Those are:

1. CTS Certified Staff
2. Customer Response Surveys
3. Staff certified in other approved certifications
4. InfoComm University™ courses for the Spinitar team
5. Conformance to InfoComm Standards

“The first three items are all things Spinitar has been doing for some time” Jay Rogina, Co-Owner of Spinitar explains, “This honor speaks volumes about our Teams that diligently obtain and keep CTS certifications, continue to receive great customer feedback, and receive additional certifications through continuing education and various manufacturer partners.”

Spinitar, your AV Integrator, is honored to have this be a demonstration of our quality control and tested competence. As an APEx provider, an InfoComm International® Audiovisual Provider of Excellence, we will continue to show our customers that we are a company that embraces quality and the communication needs of our client wherever they are in the world.

User Experience is Just as Important as the Technology

Why is the User Experience just as important as the Technology?

Advancements in technology have unique challenges. On one hand, it improves ways of working with products. On the other, it makes those same products comparatively more complicated. Consequently, organizations need to identify ways to make their products more intuitive to engage their audience, delivering desired results. Often, experience is more valuable than service. Without proper usability and experience factors, the service remains virtually unusable. Therefore, this leads teams to include ‘User Experience’ (UX) as an essential component in their product design process. Let us take a look at the significance of this vital element in helping organizations deliver results.

Users Experience: it’s theirs.

User experience is the individual feelings and perspectives of users while dealing with a digital product. It is largely subjective as it depends on individual user preferences. However, it does include some elements of objectivity. This helps designers and developers define their strategies. Some of the principal components may be identified as:

  • Usability—How effective is a product or site design
  • Accessibility—How easily accessible is information
  • Design—How convenient is the product design
  • Ergonomics—How does it enhance productivity through its design
  • Utility—How useful is the product

All of the above interact with the emotional connection the user establishes with the product. This helps to achieve the complete user experience.

Significance and Benefits of User Experience

Jesse James Garrett, Co-Founder of Adaptive Paths, a strategy and Design Firm, suggests that human engagement is the explicit goal and human experience the explicit outcome of the whole exercise of user experience. Garret’s thoughts proved to be correct, as the quality of interactions a user experiences with the product help to define their level of engagement. Engaging your audience helps you establish a definite advantage over your competition. It also indicates whether your customers will return to use your service.

The intensity of user engagement is a crucial factor in generating relevant business. Effectiveness in communicating the message is what ensures this level of user engagement. It is the basic success parameter for embedding user experience in your product.

The benefits of user experience can be listed as:

Increased Revenue. As customers realize the benefits of the ease of usability in your products, they will come back for more. Satisfied customers will be willing to pay more for your services. This naturally translates to increased revenue.

Decreased Support Costs. Intuitive websites and easy to use products help you eliminate help-desk support costs. As customers become more independent, the number of support calls decreases.

Enhanced Marketshare and Gain in Customer Loyalty. When customers’ experience of using your product ends in satisfaction, they spread the word. This word-of-mouth marketing contributes to growth of your marketshare. Moreover, satisfied customers develop brand loyalty with your products and keep coming back.

Improved product quality. Having a sound understanding of customer requirements allows you to realize and correct errors from the initial stages of product development.

Technology is not the only factor capable of drawing customers to your product and/or service. The inability to navigate that technology results in disengagement. This leads to a disastrous impact on your business. Delivering useful, interactive, convenient, and relevant products help build better customer relationships. This is possible through effective user experience, ensuring that your customers are happy.

Since 1986 Spinitar has been creating user experiences through audio, video, and communication technologies. How can we help you improve today?