“We want to look like we are keeping up with technology.” – Seventeen years ago when I first entered the industry known as Professional Audiovisual it was common place to hear some form of this phrase during Client meetings. The phrase reflected one aspect of an organization’s logic as they stepped into the emerging field of group multimedia and collaboration technology.

At the time, the hot new device was the multimedia projector (I know it seems almost laughable now). As it turned out the projector served two important purposes. The first, and most obvious, was as a large format display for presenting digital content in group settings, most often client presentations. The second and less obvious was to demonstrate, primarily to the client, that the organization was on the top of its game and not only keeping up with the changing times, but a leader. During those early years I heard more than one story about how the use of a multimedia projector helped to close a sale by making a flipchart-wielding competitor appear obsolete and out of touch.

Well, we have entered a similar adoption phase that I am calling “Keeping Up 2.0”. Only this time, it is not as much about impressing the Client as it is recruiting the best talent.

Think about the life experience of a new employee entering the workforce today. S/he has never known a world without a computer, nor a classroom without access to a multimedia projector. As for interactive whiteboards and videoconferencing – if the new employee did not have direct access to these technologies during their schools years, they at least had exposure. And this is just the average experience. If your organization is in an industry where you need to attract the top talent from the best universities the bar is even higher.

Now imagine for a moment what the well qualified job applicants are thinking when they step into the typical work environment of an organization today. It is highly likely that from the applicant’s perspective, they are stepping back in time. It is a painful thought, but true.

It has always been incumbent on an organization’s leadership to create a working environment that is attractive to both potential and existing employees. We all know that a highly qualified and experienced staff is a competitive advantage and that turnover is very expensive. What is new is that leaders must now consider the technical aspect of the work environment as part of the overall employment package because their employees, new and existing, certainly are.

This is why during a recent audiovisual system design conversation I heard an executive say, “We need to look like we are keeping up.”

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