Fully 88 percent of SMB IT pros said their employees use AV (audio visual) tools on a daily or weekly basis, according to the results of a recent Onepath survey of over 100 IT decision makers, managers, directors and executives at SMBs.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said AV tools are used by at least half the company's staff.
The tools used include Web-based video tools (used by 77 percent of respondents), video monitors (75 percent), projectors (68 percent) and Web-based audio (64 percent).
Key benefits from the use of such tools include increased productivity (76 percent), and elimination of employee travel (45 percent).
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said AV tools are used to show presentations, and 77 percent said they're used to connect with remote workers.
AV tech challenges
Still, the tools do come with challenges. Fully 61 percent of respondents said their employees experience issues with AV tools on a weekly or daily basis.
Those issues include connectivity problems (48 percent), difficulty seeing or hearing everyone on audio or video conferences (37 percent), and challenges in using or setting up tools (27 percent).
"SMBs continue to make heavy use of AV tools and they're investing in these technologies as much as ever," Onepath director of commercial interiors and audiovisual Michael Lane said in a statement. "But it doesn't mean the tools are foolproof, and in most cases, significant resources are needed to support their use."
Many companies find themselves overwhelmed as a result – 29 percent of respondents said their companies have too few people to help with AV problems, and 24 percent say IT lacks the expertise needed to do so.
Strikingly, 53 percent of respondents said at least 6 hours are wasted in company meetings every month due to AV challenges.
Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents said their companies have at least eight people who are responsible for maintaining AV tools, and 62 percent have at least four.
Forty percent of respondents said their AV support staff gets at least 11 help requests per week, and 69 percent get at least five requests per week.
Fielding those requests can be time-consuming – 42 percent of respondents said it takes at least half a day to respond to a typical AV support ticket, and 15 percent said it can take a day or two.
Key skills required to handle AV support, according to respondents, include experience with video systems (78 percent), Web and cloud-based systems (76 percent), and audio systems (75 percent).
Notably, 58 percent of respondents said it's somewhat or very difficult to find workers with those skills.
As a result, 62 percent of SMBs are spending at least $10,000 a year on AV tools and support, and 46 are getting help from outside consultants.