Anyone who's worked in an office environment knows that the real MVPs of the workplace are the information technology (IT) support staff, who provide tech support that can fix most technology-related problems in about five minutes. Their value in the modern workplace has only increased with the rapid incorporation of digital applications and cloud-based services, many of which now support audio-visual (AV) elements like virtual and remote meetings and collaboration sessions.
As a result, there is a growing need in offices and workplaces for a combination of IT and audiovisual tech skillsets, two roles that for many years were only marginally connected. The growing demand for these skillsets — and IT/AV techs that provide them — has created a hiring crunch that is forcing companies to get creative when finding candidates for new positions or upskilling existing workers to meet demand. Addressing the issue first means understanding the major roles of IT professionals.
- Installing, setting up, and fine-tuning AV equipment on site
- Monitoring the health of hardware for malfunctions and repair as needed
- Designing end-user training, FAQs, and other educational resources for commonly used equipment and software
- Collaborating with company leadership on the design of new or expanded AV systems to enable remote work, meetings, and collaboration
- Staying up to date on the software and hardware needed for video conferencing sessions
The expansion of Internet of Things networks in the modern workplace also means that hardware like printers, thermostats, and even lighting systems can all be connected, which creates more responsibilities for IT/AV personnel, who have to keep all of those devices operating smoothly on the network and communicating with each other.
Fulfilling these duties successfully requires competent IT/AV professionals in specific positions. Here are some of the most common job roles that will need to combine IT and AV skills:
- IT project manager: This position takes a larger view of individual projects related to IT or AV and helps break down the steps, budgets, and timing involved in making them happen. That requires a high level of tech familiarity along with certification-level training in project management that preps them for multiple project management frameworks. The abilities to multitask, communicate effectively in written and verbal formats, and handle risk and resource management are also important for this role.
- Hardware tech: This role can also rise to the level of an engineer position depending on the company or industry, with the main responsibility being the management of servers and computers, as well as managing upgrades, installing software and hardware, maintaining security protocols, and troubleshooting. Security is a particularly important focus of this position, although traditional duties — such as data collection and repair and maintenance of software and hardware — remain as important as ever.
- Network engineer/system administrator: These positions help design computer networks based on the operational needs of a company or organization. That means balancing existing resources against future needs and budgets while keeping a close eye on security concerns, changing capabilities in hardware and software and how an organization will continue to grow. The important skillsets of these jobs include analytical skills, knowledge of network security best practices, and lots of experience with IT networking systems.
- Systems engineering manager: This role keeps an eye on the performance of IT systems and everything connected to them. That means overseeing the basic infrastructure for all IT systems, monitoring overall performance and security, managing all assets, and tracking support on the IT help desk. They can also advise on the future development and management of system design and architecture to achieve long-term organizational goals.
The growing need for IT professionals with AV knowledge comes at a time when hiring professionals in most sectors are facing challenges finding candidates. In fact, consulting firm Gartner found IT executives consider a shortage of available talent as the most significant barrier to adopting 64% of emerging technologies.
Career Karma notes that employers searching for tech support candidates tend to want three-to-five years of experience in either AV or IT disciplines, relevant programming languages, and installation techniques, plus familiarity with the most popular applications used in a particular industry, be it commercial business, technology, real estate, or healthcare.
Reaching out to related groups and societies, such as the Audio Engineering Society, is one good way to begin connecting with candidates. Job boards such as Dice and ZipRecruiter are also obvious starting points for posting jobs, and there are plenty more platforms to expand to. It can often be more advisable to look for candidates who are already performing the duties you're looking for, which makes LinkedIn a great way to reach out based on keyword searches and connections made in relevant groups that congregate on the platform.
Another option is to look much closer to home in your own office. This can perhaps pay even greater dividends as it creates a more versatile employee with a broader understanding of company processes and goals. In fact, Gartner says that 58% of the total workforce will need new skills to remain effective at their jobs.
Today's AV technology brings yet another benefit; it's designed for easy set-up and use, reducing the need for IT support. The Bose Professional Videobar VB-S conferencing device, for example, was made to be quick and easy to install and operate in a range of small- to mid-size meeting environments. Videobar devices are also easy to operate remotely.
The roles of IT managers and technical teams are changing. They now encompass managing what's on the network — both company-owned and personal devices — how each meeting space is used, users' expectations, and security. That means it's more critical than ever to have the right person with the right skillset in each position. Furthermore, they need to be able to take advantage of AV tech that helps to make all this a bit easier. Bose Professional understands the challenges this brings to IT and AV teams face and offers solutions to make it a bit more manageable — and effective.