It’s time to plan ahead for a technology change that you will not be able to avoid; and its impact will cause more than just disruption fatigue.  There is a migration subtly taking place that will, without proper near-term budgeting and planning, surprise most organizations.  And, it is a big, inconvenient and expensive change.

The migration taking place is the move from Analog to Digital in commercial audiovisual systems.  These two signaling technologies are completely different and not capable of communicating with each other.  As our source devices (computers, tablets, etc.) become incompatible with our display devices (and visa-versa), there is no easy fix, short of replacing the obsolete analog equipment with new digital equipment.

Currently, most equipment is manufactured with both analog and digital inputs and outputs ~ so the incompatibility, while apparent via the different connectors, is not currently disruptive, but it will be.  As manufacturers begin to move away from support of this dual format and towards a digital only ecosystem to save cost, space and weight in their devices, organizations that do not plan ahead will be caught unaware with equipment that just won’t work together.

Imagine that plugging a digital video output of a laptop into an analog presentation system is analogous to trying to play a Blu-Ray disk on your old turntable; it just won’t work and there is no inexpensive adapter that will resolve the conflict.  This situation may sound familiar to anyone who has made the conversion from analog to digital with their home theatre system.  The challenge is that each component in the system has to be compatible. Simply replacing the turntable, in this example, with a Blu-Ray player may not be enough.  You may, likewise, have to replace your existing receiver and display as well.

How big is the problem?  It depends on the size of your organization and your budget. I have a client that will need to convert approximately 200 presentation systems within the near future; a major undertaking that will not happen smoothly without advance planning and budgeting.  While a small organization will not have to deal with a migration of this scale, it will still need to budget and plan to reduce the impact of this change.

Be warned, the commercial version of this migration has begun.  If you currently have an audiovisual system in your conference, training or boardroom, it is most likely of the analog type.  I recommend that you start planning and budgeting now for the inevitable digital conversion.  I suspect that we only have three to five years before analog devices fall victim to the technology revolution and end up as the latest artifacts in the technology museum.  Move over turntable…

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