With the pressing need to drive innovation and creativity, tools to support collaboration are more important now than ever. Organizations are optimizing their real estate footprints, reducing the square footage per person in order to maximize the number of collaboration spaces. With most meetings at 8 people or less, larger boardrooms are being repurposed and divided into smaller and medium-sized spaces. With the adoption of mobile technology, every space needs to connect people locally and virtually, and those spaces need to share a common user experience. Creating a thoughtful AV design is more critical than ever, and selecting the right collaboration system can feel like an overwhelming process. To start, organizations need to reflect on their culture toward technology, their employees and the kind of collaborative work being done. This is a time to look forward and consider what kind of change is needed to propel your organization for its next phase. How will the changes in your workforce and the work itself impact the decisions you make around your investments in technology?

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Integrated conferencing solutions have dominated the audiovisual landscape for decades, and were the standard go-to solutions for all of your meeting room needs. Over time, these custom engineered systems have become easier to use and more cost effective to purchase. However, we are seeing an emergence in bundled systems from leading UC manufacturers. This raises the question – how do you choose between bundled and integrated systems?

Why integrated systems?

Traditional AV integrators focus on understanding an organization’s technology needs and existing standards, and engineer tailored solutions to meet their needs and budget. This approach allows you to have a very customized AV design that meets exact specification. For example, the number and location of input sources, the type of control system and the design of the graphical interface. Engineered systems can address unique challenges within the room. Engineers evaluate sight lines, camera views, speaker and microphone coverage, sound reverberation, lighting and many of the factors that impact a meeting experience.

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Why bundled systems?

Like with many decisions, the 80/20 rule may apply, meaning that 80% of the time, the required functionality and room configurations remain standard, and there is no need for a customized system. When investing in a pre-bundled solution, many of the components that would normally need to be programmed and wired to work together are designed to function right out of the box. These solutions come with standard cameras, microphones and speakers for common-sized huddle and meeting rooms. They each come with their version of an easy-to-use user interface for meeting collaboration and content sharing. Microphones have improved so much that you can have one microphone at the table and get the same quality as multiple ceiling mics. The same is true with cameras – a mid-level camera can be bundled into a system and work well for a medium to large space. There has also been a shift in AV design from hardware control to software control, meaning you use a digital user interface with an existing computer or your smartphone rather than a hardwired dedicated control unit. These packaged solutions are the most cost-effective systems available, but keep in mind that they typically require existing displays or the purchase of new displays, as well as installation services, and you would want to consult an AV integrator for both.

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What is best for your organization?

Well, that depends. There is no one-size-fits-all answer when selecting the right type of system, but there are some guidelines. Integrated conferencing solutions are the most flexible, and can be tailored for any sized space. Bundled solutions are really most appropriate for mid-sized spaces. Very small huddle spaces, larger boardroom spaces or uniquely sized or shaped spaces will still require an experienced consultant to create an integrated AV design. It is an audiovisual system integrator’s responsibility to seamlessly design and integrate all of these solutions within a work environment to create a common experience for the end user.

Bundled systems

  • Most mid-sized spaces (5-10 people)

Integrated conferencing systems

  • Very small spaces (3-4 people)
  • Boardroom spaces (16-18 people)
  • Multipurpose spaces
  • Spaces of a unique size or shape

We hope this is helpful as you evaluate the right technology solutions for your organization!

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