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What’s the TCO of AV Systems?

As purchasing decisions for AV systems become more complex, involving more stakeholders and disciplines, the push to include Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis in proposals is increasing. Although the fi nancial estimation of direct and indirect costs does help potential buyers in making decisions, it is also benefi cial to include some consideration of the far-reaching impact resulting from deployment of advanced AV solutions. Systematic cost analysis and justification for AV systems is gaining momentum mainly in larger organizations where TCO analysis is already in place for IT purchases and where a cost-centric mentality is pervasive. At many other companies and institutions, “soft factors” may play a more signifi cant role in selecting solutions. These factors include the solution’s potential impact on increasing employee productivity and business effi ciencies, as well as, in digital signage applications, its infl uence on customers and other viewers. The project’s expected Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Objectives (ROO) may also be incorporated in the evaluation. The use of presentation systems to enhance training and education, IMAG to improve experiences at houses of worship and theaters, digital signage to motivate consumers, and interactive technologies to create immersive experiences all incur costs beyond the initial purchase price of hardware and software. Expenditures on replacement parts, maintenance, training, software license renewals and a variety of other items add to the TCO. In recent years, tools have been developed to track usage, diagnose malfunctions and manage downtime over the life cycle of various AV/IT system components. Among these are AMX RMS (Resource Management Suite), Crestron Fusion and Intel AMT (Active Management Technology). Some users have also reduced costs by standardizing AV solutions across their organizations. Others have integrated collaborative solutions such as videoconferencing, not only to supplement in-person meetings and reduce travel costs, but also to reduce the ongoing costs of system maintenance and training.

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