Buying a new conference system is a high-value investment that is expected to support your meetings and conferences for a significant period of time. It is not unusual for installed conference systems to function for more than 10 years before they are outdated, worn, or simply no longer up to contemporary standards.
Conference Systems are high-value long-term investments. The criteria for selecting a new system, therefore, need to go beyond the sheer technical aspects. Otherwise, you may end up with a system that needs support and a manufacturer that is no longer in business
It is therefore no surprise that a conference system is not an impulse buy but requires a well thought through selection process before making a commitment.
Especially when there is significant customization required for a new conference system to fit in with the furniture or to minimize the aesthetic impact when replacing an existing system.
There are a few important factors to consider that go beyond the technical or aesthetic aspect of the system. To help make a well-considered decision that does not result in disappointment or loss in the long run, we’ve listed a few here.
5 Factors to consider before buying
1. Financial Stability
We already mentioned the nature of a conference system as being a long-term investment. Consider this: when your system is 5 years or even 10 years old, wouldn’t it be a reassuring thought that the manufacturer of the system is still around? You might need support, a replacement part, an expansion or even an upgrade for your system. Therefore, choosing an equipment brand that is owned by a solid and financially stable company is a wise decision.
2. Innovation Power
The innovation power of a company is a good indicator of what the odds are for a company to survive in the long run. So when evaluating different manufacturers, have a look at their product range and ask yourself:
- How often does this company introduce new products?
- How well does it embrace new technologies?
- Is their software evolving constantly, or hasn’t it been upgraded for years?
- Does the company have a clear strategy and vision for the future and does it build a coherent range of products?
3. Build Quality
The chances are that after a few years, your conference system will have a lot of operational hours on the counter. The build quality, i.e. the used materials and integration techniques, will determine how well your conference system survives intensive use. Plastic parts will wear more easily than metal. Scratches and fading prints or screening is less likely on systems that are built using good quality metal parts. The use of quality connectors that ensure reliable and stable connections will also save you a lot of headaches
4. Open or Closed Systems
This is an important factor to consider. As technology evolves, more systems become interconnected. Check the interfaces that the system provides to connect to the outside world. Are these interfaces proprietary or based on open source technology? What are the chances that in 10 years, you will still be able to hook your system up to another, new audio-visual system, meeting management system, or reporting system?
5. Customization Capabilities
Last, but not least: if you have the daunting task before you to replace an existing, old system that leaves holes in the tables, you might want to look for a company that offers enough flexibility to customize its standard range and is able to deliver within a reasonable time frame. You’ll have a system that is aesthetically pleasing and might even save you a lot of money by not having to modify or renew the furniture. Here especially, you need a financially stable supplier that still is around in 10 years because the system you have in your meeting room will be unique.
Taking into account the above when evaluating manufacturers for your project can save you a lot of aggravation and money. It is not always the fanciest and feature-rich solution that is also the best solution as a long-term investment.
So looking beyond the bells and whistles and smooth sales talk can be a wise thing to do. As an example, the Fingal County Council Chamber in Dublin did just that. When the councilor numbers recently increased from 24 to 40, the need arose to replace the existing conference system.
Fingal County Council understood that aspects such as digital technology, delivery timescales, customization power, on-going product development, and good financial stability were key factors to consider.