AV Opportunities for Managed Service Providers
Video conferencing has enabled the move to hybrid working models for organizations around the world. However poor user experience and employee engagement – due to inadequate meeting room technology – are jeopardizing the long-term success of these new workstyles. Consequently, businesses are strategically prioritizing investments in conferencing hardware to better enable their workforce. The demand for high-quality audio peripherals to enhance the performance of software-based collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom has never been higher.
Audio visual (AV) equipment and services have long been absorbed into the broader responsibilities of the information technology department. So, it’s a natural progression that organizations may seek the support of their trusted IT providers to address AV needs. And vice versa, MSPs may deliver a better and more comprehensive offering to clients with the provision and management of audio solutions.
So what are the options? Usually, clients would have to either settle for off-the-shelf appliances or commit to a professional custom install – neither of which really meets their needs. And neither option providing significant new business opportunities for IT services providers.
Small Spaces with All-In-One Devices
There is an abundance of conference bars and speakerphones offered by major UC & collaboration brands. These are familiar solutions for IT professionals and companies usually source them through e-commerce platforms. Cheap, quick and easy to install, and in most cases good enough for (the intended) smaller rooms, these all-in-one devices are geared towards DIY implementation.
Unless the installation and management of such “plug-and-play” AV hardware is not already included in your service bundles, there is not a lot of potential for MSPs to generate additional business.
Complex Spaces with Fully Integrated Systems
On the other end of the spectrum of conferencing solutions are advanced integrated systems from professional AV manufacturer brands. Such premium installs are often needed for large, multi-purpose, high-profile or other demanding spaces. They provide the highest quality sound and allow extensive customization. However, they are also technically complex and require the expertise of certified AV integrators for design, installation, and programming to achieve optimum performance.
MSPs who are tasked by their clients to deliver such solutions usually outsource to AV professionals. This results in extra cost and lower margins, longer lead times, impact on maintenance, monitoring and management services, and a loss of control over your account and their service experience. In short, you are adding a lot more complexity and risk to your long-term customer relationship.
Opportunity In The Middle
Between small rooms that your clients can equip with off-the-shelf appliances and challenging spaces that require outsourced AV solutions remains a sizeable opportunity for IT providers to deliver an alternative – with the Stem Ecosystem from Shure.
For your clients, this highly flexible portfolio provides the perfect middle ground for all those collaboration spaces where simple DIY solutions don’t provide the needed quality or scalability, and complex high-end systems are not viable in terms of cost or effort. With this solution, you can effectively address your clients’ AV needs, improve satisfaction, and get new business in spaces that normally need to be outsourced.
From a service delivery standpoint, the Stem Ecosystem enables MSPs to provide full-service, high quality AV solutions with your existing in-house resources. Powerful platform tools simplify or automate all steps from design to implementation and management. No advanced training or background in AV is needed.
Highly Configurable Audio Without Subcontracting
The Stem solution comprises four audio endpoints (for placement on the ceiling, walls, or tables), an optional control interface, and a central hub that ties it all together. You can mix-and-match these components as needed to create tailored audio configurations for your clients’ diverse meeting spaces and budgets.
With the freely accessible RoomDesign tool, you can draw up room layouts, select the ideal device combination and visualize estimated coverage of microphones and speakers. Within minutes, you know exactly what is needed and you can quickly prepare proposals for your clients – no need to engage a professional AV designer.
Automated Deployment Requires Only Basic IT Skills
In terms of installation, your IT engineers only need standard network cabling and management skills. Once Stem devices are set-up and connected, the IP-accessible Stem Ecosystem Platform provides a RoomAdapt tool that automatically adjusts device settings for optimal performance in a given space. Additionally, the RoomCheck function generates a heatmap that highlights the audio quality in different areas, so you can inform your clients what performance to expect. Compatibility with a variety of leading conferencing software also ensure seamless integration with your clients’ chosen UC platform.
The simplicity of the whole process means that even junior staff can implement a Stem solution in minutes. If you’re operating under SLAs, this saves service hours while keeping your senior engineers free to do other high-value work.
Remote Monitoring and Management Services
Beyond simplifying audio system design and deployment, the Stem Ecosystem Platform also provides a built-in tool as well as an API that enable IT service providers to remotely manage and troubleshoot your clients’ equipment.
Whether you support one conference room or hundreds, you can see what’s happening across an organization at any given moment, all in one place. It helps to quickly identify and solve break-fix issues without requiring a trip to the customer. Firmware updates are also automated (optional) so you don’t have to schedule time for maintenance.
The remote management tool embedded in the Stem Ecosystem further offers insights and data-rich statistics into actual system usage, performance and more, which provides a solid basis for predictable monthly, quarterly, or annual service fees.
AV As A Service
For IT service providers who want include AV hardware in service packages, the Stem concept also lends itself to AVaaS models packaged with UC software platform solutions. What makes the solution particularly appealing is its ability to scale up or down as space requirements change. While hybrid work arrangements are solidified, companies are often still figuring out collaboration setups at their offices. A flexible solution like Stem allows to adjust on the fly and reconfigure device combinations if needed.
Beyond the ease of system design, hardware deployment and remote management, as mentioned above, one additional aspect is inventory management. You can offer endlessly flexible system combinations with only six core SKUs. This also keeps your risk low when investing in inventory (i.e. stocking up on the right mix of products), while making it easy to keep track of your stock.
The Easy Route Into AV
The Stem Ecosystem was created based on extensive research and interviews with thousands of IT professionals. Simplistic yet robust, it efficiently addresses the most common user pain points without requiring professional AV skills.
For those IT providers who want to do more with your existing team resources, it provides the perfect steppingstone. The Stem portfolio from Shure enables you to offer your clients highly customizable, high-performance audio solutions for collaboration without the logistical pains of subcontracting or downsides of bringing in a third party service provider.
Whether you’re looking to provide tailored audio system design and on-demand sourcing, remote management services, or all-inclusive UC-as-a-Service, Stem promises opportunities in all these areas.