Showcase Spaces on Campus | IT in AV
The theme for July is showcase spaces. I feel this is fitting for this month seeing how the MSG Sphere, in Las Vegas, just turned on their outside screens for the Fourth of July. Since the video and pictures of the sphere went public there has been a large buzz about it; mainly with the AV community. Seeing this buzz and taking in this month's theme I am going to talk about Showcase spaces on our campuses from the IT side of things.
First, let's define what we mean by a showcase space. The way I define a showcase space is a space that gets the target clients excited and talking about it. The key word there is ‘target clients’. For example, let's take the MSG Sphere. This Sphere is an event hall that will hold shows and concerts. Their target clients are folks who attend shows and concerts. Would this space be a showcase space for a pro sports team? Most likely not because they are not the target clients. Now each member of the pro sports team might be a client as they attend shows/concerns but the team as a whole isn’t. The same goes for our campuses. When we build showcase spaces our target clients are potential students, donors, alumni, etc... They are not other AV/IT folks, they are not other schools, and they are not pro sports teams. This does not mean that other AV/IT folks will not find these showcase spaces interesting but again they are not our target.
Now that we have an understanding of what I mean by showcase spaces let's look at the pro and the cons of these spaces.
The pro of these spaces is the hope the ROI of these spaces will be high as potential students become enrolled students, potential donors become donors, and alumni become donors. As the technology person in these spaces, we might not see the ROI so why should we care? If the ROI on these spaces is high it could lead to a larger budget for our department, a seat at the table, and even other showcase spaces.
Another pro of these spaces is we get to play with technology in a way we might not every day. These showcase spaces are normally different from our stand classrooms. This allows us to break the mold and try something different. We might even get to play with equipment that would not go into a standard classroom but would be perfect for a showcase space. This could be as simple as a higher-lumen projector, a different type of display, a different type of programming, etc… Yes it is great sticking to our standard but we work with technology because we like technology. This means getting to do something different.
A con of these showcase spaces is that they do not follow our standards. This means supporting this space can be a challenge. Our techs will need to learn the difference between this space and our standards. Our users will need to learn the difference between this space and our standards. We like sticking to our standards because it keeps everything simple for us and this breaks that.
Another con of showcase spaces is that cost can be hard to stay on top of as we are trying something different. Let’s take the MSG Sphere as an example. This project ended up being $2.3 billion but when projected to only cost $1.2 billion; that is almost double the projected cost. Now we hope our showcase spaces will not almost double our projected budget but when we go off script it is hard to know what might happen.
The last con I would like to talk about is security. Yes, what would an IT article be if we didn’t talk about security? With our showcase spaces being different we have to make sure we stick to our security standards. Showcase spaces are spaces where we have a parade of people going through them. These folks could be bad actors and if we do not keep tight control over security we could be opening up a hole into other areas of our school.
In conclusion, we will not get away from having showcase spaces on our campus. These spaces allow us to flex our technology muscles but also we need to be mindful of the risks they bring to our teams.