Interview with Brad Sousa, Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
AVI Systems has become from a small supply company 40 years ago into a global provider of audio visual solutions today. What key steps has your company followed so far to get this?
Today, we would say that AVI is in our forth reinvention of who we are. We started out 40 years ago when the industry was about providing technical devices and hardware. Along our journey, we became more of a systems integrator, delivering systems that combined multiple technologies and manufacturers; and then eventually became an integrator delivering systems nationally and internationally. Today we would say that we are still an integrator, but more focused on solutions than systems. Our emphasis is on applying the technologies we support to human collaboration and decision making. Along the way, our customer relationships have had the trust needed to enable AVI to transform as a company as well as lead visual innovation. As a result, AVI has customers of all sorts; from technology buyers and those that are looking for the best integrated systems, to organizations who value the power of visual communications. AVI’s goal is to enable people and teams to communicate their critical ideas. AVI technologies accelerate decision making, improve human interactions and create impactful experiences.
During that time, what changes have impacted your company the most?
In 40 years, there are literally hundreds of small changes that create large shifts in the industry. AVI would distill many of these down to three large points of impact.
Digital Transformation: The impact of digital transformation cannot be overstated. The way we create, transport and consume media is all driven by this transformation. The amount of media that the average knowledge worker consumes in a common workday is absolutely staggering. Media that is professionally produced and on-air is given equality with on-demand and internet media of all sorts. Combine this with the hours of content that is self-produced each day through social media and collaborative technologies and we begin to see why our customers have become deaf to messages about “what a product or system can do” and are hyper focused on “how visual technologies can solve problems and move forward decision making”. Today it is common place for AVI to integrate solutions that include technologies from Amazon and Microsoft, with technologies that include IP network infrastructure, UC applications and broadcast technologies.
IoT and Consumerization of Media: In the past, systems were essentially “closed” with discrete connections from sources to destinations with some sort of matrix in between. Today, these “IP devices” create a communication environment that can be literally thousands of connected sources and consumers. In the past, we fought to maintain strict adherence to quality guidelines that ensured “professional” media. Today, IoT connected devices drive content from social media and mobile devices that are seemingly acceptable quality. The result is the ever-growing expectation from users that connections should be “open”, enabling users to connect anywhere, and from virtually device, to each other; while maintaining the quality and reliability normally associated with restrictive and managed infrastructure. The lines that used to segment our business between corporate and broadcast and digital media are blurred. It’s all visual communications in different forms and the expectation is that it is integrated together. This expectation is across all segments of AVI’s business. Broadcast, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Enterprise AV and Media…
Transition from technologist buyers to technology consumers: This is perhaps the biggest current impact and likely will be for the next several years. In the past, our business was transacted between technologists. Technologist buyers and technologist sellers that delivered well engineered solutions between people that had essentially a common language and set of expectations. However, more and more today our customers are not technologists. They are technology consumers looking for a way to solve a problem and hoping our technology will assist them. These customers don’t speak specifications and standards. They speak in business terms. They speak to us in terms of strategies and outcomes. This is true regardless if the customer is a media outlet, a global corporation or a house of worship. This requires AVI to change our language, our design processes and our definition of “solution”.
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