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Deferring Investment in AV Tech: Prudent Caution or a Missed Opportunity?

There is a saying used to encourage a proactive attitude, but many people haven’t heard the whole proverb:

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

That poor first mouse. However, this proverb perfectly sums-up the dilemma faced whenever the topic of new technology is on the table: Should you be an ‘early bird’ when it comes to grasping an opportunity? Or is it prudent to wait until the technology is perfected and the value well-defined?

Despite the appeal of a cautious approach, it is still tempting to seize your position as an early-adopter and gain the ‘pioneer advantage’ – so what’s the right strategy?

New technology is constantly emerging. Each innovation promises to revolutionize the way we do business and live our lives. But, of course, not every new technology or iteration of a concept will deliver on this promise.

Businesses can gain a huge advantage when the right decision is made about adopting new technology. Getting to grips with how to wield your new tools early-on can help to differentiate your offer from the competition and take advantage of new efficiencies and possibilities that simply did not exist before the new technology was in place.

However, balancing this attractive picture is the reality of new technology: it’s expensive. Digital pioneers pay a premium for their prime position in the innovation arms-race, and this cost doesn’t always pay off. Purchasing managers and CTOs must be careful to only put faith in technologies that give the company a real advantage – and this isn’t always clear.

An Endless Display of New Digital Storytelling Technologies

Audiovisual (AV) technology is invaluable for digital storytelling, and a particularly difficult area for businesses to navigate. AV tech exhibits extreme potential values:

  • high cost per setup,
  • high ROI potential, but also
  • high risk – if underperforming technology leaves you locked-in.

Imagine spending a significant chunk on a totally new Customer Experience Center, only to find months later that you can’t easily add new content or share content across different screens or devices. Or perhaps the cutting-edge new screen technology fails to return promised values and starts to ‘glitch’ – all of a sudden, your briefing center becomes a liability instead of an asset. A comparison can be drawn between LED chips that can theoretically deliver 50,000 hours of use, but often fail after <10% of this time, due to poor thermal management design. In this case, the huge potential is inaccessible due to a simple error in choosing a supplier, even when the core technology is solid.

Digital storytelling has emerged as one of the most impactful tools in the business toolkit. Technology that supports this, such as the screens, projectors and digital storytelling software have secured a place on many company’s ‘must have’ list. Customer Experience Centers are the apex of digital storytelling technologies, but any screen or AV tech can become a new launchpad for digital storytelling.

Every year new AV hardware comes onto the market, from ultra-thin OLED technology to electroluminescent quantum dot screens. These are paraded in front of thirsty tech enthusiasts each January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This year’s CES 2023 was no different, and some of the promises made seem incredible. It’s impossible to know which of these will win-out in the long term. So, do you take the risk or wait for proof?

Where to Invest and When? Is it Worth Waiting?

The ‘early bird’ advantage is a strong one, especially for companies whose branding leans heavily on their digital prowess and innovation. If you can start using and getting to grips with the potential of a new technology before the competition, your company can gain advantages before others do.

On the other hand, waiting until technology has been perfected can provide expectations of well-defined, measurable returns. The problem is that you can only gain this assurance once others have already gained their position as pioneers and reaped the rewards. Caution comes with an intrinsic opportunity cost.

Businesses must carefully assess where they stand, and balance their risks. One approach is to only buy technology that you can use (because it fits your existing business model and processes), and that provides value you can take to the bank. But is there another way?

The Wise Approach: Hedge Your Bets

Decisions about new technology don’t have to be black and white; you can have (some of) the benefits of both strategies by ‘hedging your bets.’ In practice, this means investing a proportion of your capital today in proven technology that lasts, and to cautiously adopt new technologies in a low-risk, incremental way with smaller, targeted investments in AV tech.

Use Digital Storytelling Software that Makes Technologies Future-Proof

There are several kinds of technology already available that are not likely to be surpassed for several years. Even when they are replaced with upgrades, some of these are modular and easy to update if needed. The first durable AV technology that comes to mind is projectors. Top-of-the-line projectors available today are unlikely to be outpaced by new developments, and the basic principle behind projector technology has remained unchanged for decades. The quality of the projectors used today for immersive experiences is so good that new technology would have to work very hard to replace them entirely.

Large screens that use LED or OLED technology are another piece of equipment that can generate long-lasting value. Today’s screen technology is so advanced that the human eye cannot easily distinguish ‘improvements’ in technical specifications. Also, with capable storytelling software you can keep using your old screens in new ways – so these never truly become out of date.

Another aspect to consider is the software used to support digital storytelling. There are not many options available for professional digital storytelling software, and some lack the flexibility and forward-compatibility needed to justify the commitment. However, if you can invest in a powerful platform for digital storytelling software this can give you the most options in the future. A good solution should be able to serve digital stories on any screen, and the fact that Hyro is constantly updated means that it will always retain the ability to serve your content on new technology when you adopt it.

So…Dipping Your Toe, or Taking the Plunge?

While it can be an advantage for a company whose business is technology to always strive to be ahead of the pack, this is not necessarily the domain for every company. In many cases, it is worth waiting for technology to mature and for prices to drop before taking the plunge. However, if you assess that there may be a benefit, ‘dipping your toe’ in a new technology and exploring the possibilities can help identify ways you might be able to use it at a larger scale. Experimentation can determine the parameters of new tech and its capabilities – before ‘taking the plunge’ with a larger investment.

This more gradual approach can also expose things like potential flaws and training requirements at an early stage, helping future implementations to be more successful.

Technology should always work for you to deliver new value and assist businesses in differentiating themselves. If you’re looking at the many possibilities of using AV tech for digital storytelling, it would be wise to start with proven technologies that are driven with capable and future-proof digital storytelling software.

This strategy gives you the best foundation for innovations in technology; it gives the most options for deploying digital stories and enables a modular roll-out.

By Tech Journal

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