Concept AV kicks Australian Rugby big data goal with Crestron

Contributes to Australian Rugby Union's new campus construction with networked AV

Australian Rugby is about to enter the world of big data thanks to a deployment from Concept AV, which will allow the sport’s governing body to improve insights from player footage amongst other things.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has embarked on an ambitious construction project for its new headquarters which included a full networked audio visual (AV) deployment and the ability to feed data on player performance for analysis.

ARU head of technology, Kevin Stafford, told ARN that collaboration and communication had been a key focus for the organisation as it wants to remove barriers that prevent workplace efficiency.

Crestron A/NZ CEO, Stuart Craig and ARU head of technology, Kevin Stafford
Crestron A/NZ CEO, Stuart Craig and ARU head of technology, Kevin Stafford

“As a part of our move to the new building we are taking this opportunity to redefine the way we work by moving to an activity-based working model,” he said. “We want to allow our employees to have the freedom to work from anywhere with anyone as if they were still in the office sitting next to them.”

The ARU had an existing relationship with AV vendor Crestron and thus the IT team were committed to the technology. As Crestron operates a full channel sales model, it engaged one of its partners for the next phase.

Enter Concept AV, a Sydney-based AV specialist partner that has extensive experience in networking - a must for modern AV deployments according to company director, Tom Squillacioti.

“We have spent a lot of time and resources training our staff on networking and other IT capabilities to keep pace with the changes [in the industry],” he said.

Tom Squillacioti - Concept AV director
Tom Squillacioti - Concept AV director

Due to the nature of the project, Squillacioti said the team had to work with the builder of the new facility, Crestron and the ARU on the deployment which is due for completion in September 2017.

Crestron A/NZ managing director, Stuart Craig, said an increasing number of companies are looking to merge AV and IT for efficiencies as well as insights.

“When I started doing this 20 years ago, AV was an afterthought,” he said. “Fast forward to now and, for example, our biggest customers are the likes of Microsoft and Amazon. Here in Australia its Macquarie Bank, Westpac and UTS.”

In the case of Microsoft, Crestron through its partners controls about 8000 meeting rooms for the company across the globe.

“These days, the convergence between IT, UC and AV has happened. Every system we sell these days has network connectivity and is scalable, measurable and reportable, all things that the market wants,” Craig added.

That has created challenges for the channel, according to Craig. Crestron boasts more than 200 partners in A/NZ, but unlike many IT vendors, its channel goes beyond AV partners and Craig estimates that traditional IT resellers make up 10 per cent of its partner base.

For its part, Crestron is encroaching on traditional UC vendors through partnerships with Zoom and Skype for Business.

The company does not engage in direct deals, all leads are fed back though its sales channel and Craig said these leads are distributed to partners on the basis of capability.

AV implementation requires a very specific skill sets and Crestron, like many traditional IT vendors, has training programs to up skill partners. He said that as a result of the influx of non-traditional partners.

Craig said as a result of the changing landscape, the company updates its training program on a regular basis. He added that an increasing number of IT resellers were taking Crestron courses.

For the ARU, the video feeds create a large amount of data which it can then feed back into its own training systems for business and player development.

“We will use multiple technologies together to be able to give the best insights and analysis of a player’s performance,” Stafford said. “In the new building we will have player review rooms where after/before a session/game the team can use state of the art equipment to review different aspects of the game from different angles, whether that’s from cameras located in the indoor training pitch or from drones flying above the sessions.”

“We can use large touch screens and software to highlight running lines of players, how they match up and what should be being done.

He added that coaches’ instructions will be easier to understand and playing strategies will be easier to implement when players and coaches have access to this footage.

“This is crucial for us in order to be able to give clear feedback and instructions to players in the shortest timeframes possible.”

He added that the spaces in the new building will be equally important for community players and schools, as the ARU has spaces that could be used for a Wallabies team meeting one minute or a community coaching/refereeing program the next minute.

“The key for us is the versatility of the spaces and the Crestron equipment gives us flexibility and adaptability of the space so we can cater for all of our requirements,” he said.