The 80/20 Approach to AV Integration

Posted by / February 17, 2017

AV Integration and the Pareto Principle

If you’ve read any personal or business development books in the past 20 years or so, you’ve probably come across The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. But you might not have considered how AV integration can benefit from 80/20 thinking.

Also called the Pareto principle, the 80/20 principle basically states that 80% of results stem from 20% of causes. As a rule of thumb, the 80/20 principle seems to apply in every discipline—marketing, sales, science, economics, sports, and even health.

You can find examples everywhere you look—the small number of users that submitting the bulk of your support tickets, the few key customers bringing in most of your profit, or the handful of the products that you sell the most.

The takeaway from the 80/20 principle is that to be more effective, we should focus on the 20 that delivers the 80. By honing the few most vital actions, we can maximize whatever it is we’re trying to achieve.The key is defining the vital few.

The principle applies to AV integration as well as any other industry. In order to effectively deliver solutions people actually enjoy using, integrators have to prioritize according to what matters most for users.

Pareto’s Huddle Space

Let’s take the huddle space, for example—an ideal candidate for applying the 80/20 principle to AV integration. Though details vary, the core features of every huddle space include:

  • Small workstation or table
  • Simple display monitor
  • Interactive or regular whiteboard

Huddle spaces don’t need to be fancy. For the most part, people need basic functionality—but they need it to work really well.

Of course, a huddle space can have more than just the basics. You can add video conferencing or integrate the AV systems with room scheduling applications, for example. But more technology isn’t always better. With huddle spaces, the simplest solutions often win out—for users and IT administrators alike.

But to know how to refine the 20%, we first need to better define the 80%. That is, what result should we try to maximize when delivering huddle room AV systems?

Defining the UX Goal for AV Integration

The goal user experience (UX) for the huddle space, in a nutshell: “Wow, that was easy!”

We want users to feel that way, sure. But we also want the IT teams managing technology to feel it. A huddle space should lift a weight off their shoulders, too. So the UX goal is twofold: make it easy to start a meeting, and make it impossible for the systems to fail.

Recently, we built a huddle space for a client that did exactly this. It relies on simple technology—a display, a control processor, and a Barco ClickShare unit. Instead of adding more features, we eliminated an otherwise common feature that often (surprisingly) makes it harder to start a meeting and even increases the likelihood of support requests: the user interface.

It may seem counterintuitive, but less control can make a system easier to use.

The key was automating the technical tasks. We programmed the controller to automatically engage and disengage the system when someone connects a device. No one needs to fiddle with a remote or a UI at all—just plug in and you’re good to go.

Thanks to the ClickShare, collaborating from any connected device is as easy as pressing a button. Users can even connect via the ClickShare app from their smartphone or tablet. As a final touch, the display is programmed to turn off automatically after a few minutes of disuse, saving the screen from the all-too-common burnout that happens mostly because of simple forgetfulness.

The result from has been overwhelmingly positive. Our client tells us their new huddle space is booked all the time. It’s everyone’s new favorite meeting room! Best of all, there’s virtually zero support upkeep for IT to worry about.

That’s our goal as an AV integrator. But to deliver a solution that people actually enjoy using day in and day out, you have to focus on what they really want. Most of the time, it’s nothing crazy. People are happy when their AV gets the job done without causing problems.

The Principle of “Good Enough” AV Integration

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that when it comes to AV integration, people want “good enough” technology solutions that “just work.” As in our previous post, I’m not going to dispute the validity of “good enough” AV integration—as long as we’re clear on what that really means.

“Good enough” AV doesn’t mean settling for the cheapest technology, cutting corners, rushing a design, or half-hearted support. That particular definition is a recipe for disaster.

I define “good enough” as contextual excellence. What’s good enough for a huddle space isn’t the same as what’s good enough for a data visualization room, for example. That said, usability and dependability are key to the overall experience in any environment.

That’s the beauty of 80/20 thinking. It leads us to define what we should focus on to reach more elegant solutions. And that’s a definition of “good enough” any AV integrator can get behind.

Whether you’re an IT professional yourself or just looking to make the most of AV technology in your organization, we’d love to help you find a solution you’ll actually enjoy using. Get in touch with us today to get started!

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