John Bailey is Senior Vice President of Technology and Innovation for AVI-SPL, the digital workplace services provider pioneering unified communications (UC) and audio-visual (AV) services for in-office use. 

In his role, Bailey is responsible for the company’s global UCC strategy and practices, supporting strategic partnerships and programmes as well as serving as well as leading incubator initiatives to bring new solutions to customers. 

“This means I monitor many industry and market trends, and from that, design, launch and grow programmes and practices that support these new technologies,” says Bailey. 

Like many technologists today, Bailey’s passion for his industry has been longstanding. While his current role did not follow a direct line from his early career, he says it has nonetheless been a “fantastic journey.” 

“I really enjoy this idea of bringing people together through communications,” he says. “I think it’s so powerful how the solutions and tools we use touch every industry and person everywhere in the world. That’s still my guiding light many years on.”

Indeed, Bailey has worked in communications since leaving university with his degree in the same field.

“After college, I worked in the broadcast and engineering area of communications,” he notes. “This was an exciting period because at that time audio was shifting from analogue to digital.”

He continues,  “I was lucky to get in on the front end of that digital wave. Digital audio workstations and digital audio recording were very innovative at the time.”

Bailey soon joined a commercial audio-visual (AV) company in need of production services support. He stayed in that role for a few years before joining Whitlock, a larger AV-focused company where Bailey spent the next 21 years of his career. 

“In 2019, we had grown into a U.S. national company with a strong global partner network that allowed us to serve our global customer base. By revenue, we were about the third-largest AV company in the United States,” adds Bailey. 

“That year, our founder, John Whitlock, decided to sell the company to a private equity firm. That firm also purchased AVI-SPL, the world’s largest AV/UC firm, and they merged the two companies.”

The merger was completed in 2020, creating America’s largest AV/UC company for digital workspace services. The new entity retained the AVI-SPL name. 

AVI-SPL: Innovation in overdrive during COVID-19 pandemic

Of course, at the time of the AVI-SPL merger, a major change in the way people worked was about to take place. 

The COVID-19 pandemic saw working conditions shift dramatically from in-office work exclusively to working from home. The need for many businesses to onboard new AV technologies into their business was at its peak. 

“The state of the industry we’re in today is a reflection of many of the services we developed over the past four years,” says Bailey.

“If we think about hybrid meeting technology, which is something we spent a lot of time working on, those challenges all continue today. They were challenges before the pandemic, but during and after they have probably become our number one concern.”

Of course, new working conditions were not just a challenge for AVI-SPL. The sudden shift to remote work was a challenge for workers and businesses who needed new digital workplace solutions immediately. 

“I like to say technology doesn’t necessarily solve people problems, it’s people who solve people problems,” comments Bailey.

“By that, I mean we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking technology will solve everything for us. It’s about understanding the tools that people need to perform their job effectively.”

Today, as the workplaces settle into a post-pandemic norm, Bailey feels businesses can incentivise workforces to return to a hybrid working model by creating in-office workplace experiences enhanced by technology. 

He says: “It’s people that motivate people to come back into the office, not just the experience technology. To that end, my team and I want to meet and understand as many perspectives as we can. 

“We talk to global teams, customers, end users, consultants, analysts, manufacturers, and platform providers to understand and try to solve the challenges that we’re facing today. 

“These are macro industry challenges, and it’s a unique point in time where there is a disruption inversion, in that the way people work has changed faster than the pace of innovation.”

AVI-SPL: Topping the digital workplace services industry

In an industry innovating at rapid speed to catch up with a forever-changed working environment, AVI-SPL sits at the pinnacle. 

“We have great scope, scale and vision,” notes Bailey. “We see digital workplace solutions as converging into fewer unified platforms, and a lot of that transition is fueled by the desire to deliver a better user experience. 

“When we talk about the services that support collaboration, for example, video, voice, contact centre, corporate communications and workplace experience, they’re all largely moving to unified solutions with common support and management tools.”

But how does this set AVI-SPL apart? “We can support a wide range of technology to help bring unification to businesses,” answers Bailey. “Historically, workplace services companies are distinct and siloed, focusing on one or two specific areas.

“Today, the convergence of technology in workplaces means service providers like us must address all facets of workplace communications regardless of whatever the medium and the message might be.”

AVI-SPL: Pioneering AV/UC collaboration tech

Within its broad-ranging services for the digital workspace market, AVI-SPL is a pioneer in leveraging AV/UCC collaboration technology that powers flexible work.

Bringing workers together wherever they are is critical for AVI-SPL and Bailey, with hybrid meetings now the new normal, with workers connecting from offices and homes. 

He says: “When we talk about hybrid meetings, some of us are in the office altogether, some of us are like we are here today in our own home offices, this is the new normal.

“Flexible work is here to stay. Our research regarding office occupancy backs this up – our office keycard tracking tools show offices are at 55% occupancy today. This total capacity seems to have stabilised, as there hasn’t been much change in this figure over the last six months.

“Four years on from the pandemic, this has become the new flat rate. It means half of all those knowledge workers are still spending some or all of their time in the home office. So, our AV/UC technology remains our core focus as it is designed specifically for hybrid work environments. 

“We will continue to improve on this as time goes by to bring employees together in as many different ways as businesses need to.” 

Collaboration needed to deliver digital workplace services 

Just as AVI-SPL supports businesses by helping their employees better collaborate, so too does it understand the need to collaborate with partners to deliver the best technological solutions. 

In fact, Bailey says partnerships are critical to the company’s success. “Partnerships in the digital workplace industry is an area where I have seen major shifts occur over the past four to five years,” he notes. 

“It’s imperative that platform providers, hardware partners and integrators like AVI-SPL work closely to create impactful solutions.”

Indeed, many of the technologies that AVI-SPL supports are tightly integrated between product design and the cloud services they connect to.

“We play an important role in the partnership process by consulting with suppliers, platforms and providers to gain insight into the market and understand the evolving needs of our customers,” Bailey continues. 

“We see a lot of different customer segments and various applications. Our design and engineering teams leverage this experience to help our partners understand what our customers need, what they have and what they are looking for.” 

Close collaboration, therefore, gives AVI-SPL a better understanding of their clients’ needs and helps technology providers deliver solutions that meet changing workplace requirements.

How AVI-SPL drives collaboration with partners

AV-SPL has several partners working collaboratively in its digital ecosystem. These include audio product provider Shure Incorporated, audio, video and control products provider QSC and control systems and video conferencing firm Creston. 

“The great thing about all our partners is that we’ve worked with them for many years,” notes Bailey.

“Today, all of these companies push the limits of what technology can do in the workplace, especially when customer’s requirements don’t fit with common ‘off the shelf’ solutions. 

“These partners really embody the art of the possible – and we can rely on them to extend our feature and function sets specific to a particular client’s needs.

“Crestron and QSC both excel at supporting automation and customisation to support complex workspaces, but they’re also creating some amazing video experiences using AI and devices to track participants, frame video shots and groups – all creating a rich experience without a lot of human involvement.

“Likewise, Shure is a great partner that is constantly innovating in the audio space. It is really helping us capture great audio from anywhere in a given space, particularly when it comes to their distance microphone technology.”

Indeed, with the support of all its partners, AVI-SPL delivers more engaging, creative and adaptive workplace environments – where the technology meets workers where they are, not the other way around. 

A look at the future of AVI-SPL

As AVI-SPL looks to a future of continued innovation in the digital workspace industry, it knows it can count on the collaborative support of its partners. 

In the next 12 months, Bailey feels office occupancy will continue its slow upward trend, particularly as more engaging technologies and workplace experiences entice employees back to the office.

One area where Bailey hopes to see more improvement is innovation in the video technology space. 

“Video is an area where we’re going to see a lot of new technology come to market that’s going to be pretty engaging for our customers. We’ll be focused on understanding that, deploying it, innovating it and getting our customers comfortable with it,” he says. 

“Then, of course, the next big cycle of technology innovation is AI. I believe it’s going to be a major inflection point affecting all technology solutions in really fundamental and profound ways. 

“Not only do I think we’re going to see big efficiency gains by enabling people to focus more on the collaboration, ideation and creation of things, but in many ways, I think AI will increasingly be incorporated into our daily routines, helping offload some of our mundane tasks.”

Indeed, AI is where Bailey and AVI-SPL have their eyes on, as it looks to the latest innovation on the market for how AI can be further incorporated into digital workspaces. 

He is already seeing AI make an impact in AVI-SPL’s product design, all the way down to the processing layer. 

“When we think about neural processing units now, the introduction of AI means we’re talking about those in addition to CPUs and GPUs,” Bailey adds.

“It’s impacting things like mobility and security, and I think it’s great to see all these different players in the industry coming together and collaborating to build new AI technology.”

Bailey and the team at AVI-SPL are already piloting new AI technologies to see how they can better enhance digital workspaces.

“We’re testing, researching and understanding the benefits of AI across our core collaboration platforms,” Bailey says. “We’re looking at Microsoft, Zoom, Cisco and Google in addition to a host of other UCaaS and CCaaS partners to help deliver innovative AI solutions to the workspace. 

“Our customers are progressive in this area too, wanting to onboard AI services into their workplace functions,” he adds. 

“While our clients are interested in AI, many are testing it on a singular platform –where they already complete daily tasks.

“We like to show customers the entire breadth of AI capabilities across all the collaboration tools we have under our wing. This will help them truly deliver AI advancements most effectively.

“As well as for our clients, we’ll be bringing AI into our own business processes, whether that’s from an office knowledge worker point of view or in our managed services and field operations.

“By integrating AI into our own services, we can better deliver AI, among a host of other technologies, to our clients in collaboration with our partners.”


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