Smart Building Technology: AV Firms Must Evolve Or Die  

Published 10/15/2012


David Danto


Principal Consultant - AV / Multimedia / Video / UC,

Dimension Data


Director of Emerging Technology, IMCCA


As a follow-up to my last blog, I've just returned from the InfoComm 100 seminar in Reston, Va. The annual gathering of audiovisual industry thought leaders is designed to assess and chart the course of the industry. This year's topic, "Smart Building Technology," encompassed systems, capabilities, building automation, functionality, and many related concepts. It was a very interesting event to say the least.

The attendees brought up a number of points that I found fascinating. The keynote speaker, Bruce Kasanoff, co-author of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies, said everything in our lives is getting smart -- devices can track everything, remember everything, share everything, and do so everywhere. He made a very interesting point that we should really not think of our smartphones as telephones anymore. They, like most of the technology we use in our daily lives, are complex sensors that can absorb enormous amounts of data for later use.

A number of subsequent speakers from the fields of facilities management, architecture, and design consulting made some eye-opening points:

·         LEED, the generally accepted guideline for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings, is neither very green nor very practical. Among its many problems, it ignores most ancillary technology in buildings. It completely ignores collaborative technology -- to the point where one speaker said, "If we wanted the US Green Building Council to pay attention to multimedia, we would have had to design our projectors to look like bicycle racks."

·         Building owners are getting tired of hearing about ROI. For technology to get a serious look, it should address improvements in cost structure and utilization -- things that really change the game.

·         Formal facilities management courses are doing a poor job training the next generation of property managers. Hundreds of graduates recently failed the US State Department's basic facilities manager exam.

During the formal and informal discussions, it became clear that the organizations that manage ICT and multimedia are well positioned to take a leadership role in smart building technology. All the other disciplines on a construction project generally carry expertise in just their area, but the AV and technology integrators already have the burden of managing disparate systems and technologies (making the codecs, displays, microphones, lights, shades, and GUI all speak with one another). The building management system would be just one more item for our high-quality programmers to integrate.

Lots of people made the point that the multimedia industry is changing dramatically. The key point was that traditional AV firms need to evolve or die. Multimedia facilities are no longer about just audio, video, or control. They're about data collection and data management. The mom-and-pop AV integrators that hang screens and sell boxes will not survive the transition.

The InfoComm community also was buzzing with the news that a successor had been named to Randy Lemke, InfoComm's much admired retiring CEO and executive director. David Labuskes will take the reins at the end of the year.




This blog was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. It originally was published at UBM’s “The Video Enterprise” website that was closed down November 1st 2012.  Here is a link to the Google cache of the page with comments.  I do not know how long Google keeps these pages.


David has over 30 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He recently joined Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at or, he can be followed on Twitter @NJDavidD , and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at