Over the last 15 years there have been countless articles written about the convergence of AV and IT. In the mid-90s, some held out that AV and IT were distinct and there was no reason to converge. Live and let live was a common theme in the day and never the twain shall meet was the early prognostication. Counter to that, visionary thinkers understood early on that a convergence was inevitable and only a matter of time. If we look back with 20/20 hindsight, the visionaries were correct. As we exist today, AV and IT have converged but I suggest that the order is wrong. Today it is IT followed by AV with a subservience of all connected technologies to the network.
The fact is that we live in an IT and software world and some have made that paradigm shift and others have not. To be fully connected today requires us to be software and cloud literate, thus eliminating most of the roadblocks associated with hardware centric devices that have been prior to the turn of the century, the foundation of our lives. Today the IT world and the software that drives it, crosses all boundaries, both commercial and consumer.
Some have embraced the new reality but some have not. Much of the “slower to adopt/adapt” mentality can be traced to the era in which we each one grew up and more specifically, what we grew up comfortable with.
Baby Boomers I were born from 1946 to 1954 and came of age in 1963-1972. It was after World War II and it was all about achieving the American dream. A family, a house with a white picket fence, plus a car to drive and all was well. From a technology point of view, this was the first TV generation and the start of the space race as a result of the cold war.
Baby Boomers II were born in 1955 to 1965 and came of age in 1973 to 1983. The youngest members of the Boomer II generation did not have some of the benefits of the Boomer I class as many of the best jobs, opportunities, housing etc. were taken by the larger and earlier group but from a technology point of view it was still hardware centric for the most part.
Generation X were born in 1966 to 1976 and came of age in 1988 to 1994. Gen Xers are arguably the best educated generation with 29% obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher. This generation marks the beginning of the era of technological awareness that began to affect their everyday lives.
Generation Y, the Millennials, were born in 1977 to 1994 and came of age in 1998 to 2006. Gen Y are the first generation to be incredibly sophisticated and technology wise, having seen it all and exposed to it all since early childhood. Gen Y are less brand loyal and the speed of the Internet has led them to be similarly flexible in all areas of their lives and where and how communication comes from.
Going from era to era it is clear to see the distinct paradigms in which each generation grew up and for many, the limitations that are self-imposed. Each group tends to be comfortable with what they know. There is a feeling of comfort and security but while that may feel good, it also impedes progress. In business, things are changing all around us and ignoring changes and being content in maintaining the status quo is like treading water and a clear impediment to growth and success. The generation concept is a generalization to be sure and there are exceptions, but it helps explain the slow migration in the convergence of AV and IT.
As the older generations make way for the millennials to carry forward their energy and hard work to the next generation, it is clear to see that technology has outgrown the limitations of the hardware device and gone beyond the confines that imposes. Software based systems open up an array of possibilities and opportunities that our Baby Boomers and even the Gen X crowd never imagined. This is why today; IT is the umbrella under which AV resides and software systems unleash the power of the imagination with few constraints. Now it is time to think outside of the box.
By Alan C. Brawn CTS, ISF-C, DSCE, DSDE, DSNE, DCME