By Corey Moss

AVIXA, the new/rebranded industry organization as we all know, put out its Global AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis in a press release yesterday. Among the highlights, which include ‘Regional Outlook’ and ‘Market Trends,’ was ‘Major Product Trends’

From 2014 through 2017, the combined video displays and projection segments are estimated to drop by 13 percent, with the market for projector products losing 12 percent of its value. While the loss of $1 billion in projector sales will be offset by a gain of $3.5 billion in displays sales, the projection and displays segments – taken together – cannot weather contraction in the market for projection screens and accessories. Looking ahead, however, 14 percent projected annual growth in displays sales through 2022 will more than make up for the estimated dip in projection sales.

Being a former commercial AV sales professional, along with being a representative of the media I see this in a few ways. One thing is clear though – that the AV industry, a hardware heavy tech space turned to low (and even no) profit margin over the last several years, has to get on the software and cloud track to survive, and that’s a given. In fact, the larger IoT discussion has been something that has essentially filtered into the space, hardly driven further than when it was rolled out big in 2015 in a keynote at InfoComm and last year at Super Tuesday. Why? I know Almo Pro A/V has had IoT as a major part of their E4 AV Tour – I watched the recent one on live stream where there was a smattering of audience participation and Q&A at best. Why? I’ll get to that in another blog coming shortly.

Actually, let’s take a look at the ‘Market Trends and Sizing for Products and Services’ portion of the press release:

In the short term, the industry will move toward a mix of cloud and on-premise solutions. Cloud services will increasingly become common for IoT-based visualization solutions. These benefits will reduce operational cost, increase productivity, and provide futureproofing to users. It will allow users to plan and streamline the execution of their AV ideas more effectively and creatively.

In the short term? What does that mean exactly? The world is moving toward cloud and software to go along with on-prem at an accelerated pace for IT, storage, infrastructure, etc., and this is not on a short term basis as far as I see it. As for allowing users to plan and streamline execution of AV ideas — ideas?

And that word futureproofing, a true bugaboo term in this industry for years. I don’t know if any consistent messaging has existed where futureproofing is concerned in the industry – it can go from the madness of integrators overfilling equipment racks with unnecessary equipment and telling the client their system has been futureproofed, to an IoT device placed on a table and the “hey it’s IoT, the future.” Right – I was in commercial integration sales long enough to get to know the “futureproofing game” and just how much it affected the end user. I left space in a rack for future upgrades, so not to have to sell them another and have to add more costs along with space constraints. I worked closely with my Director of Engineering, and it showed in all of the systems we specified, bringing a great deal of repeat business and referrals.

What of IoT-based visualization solutions and cloud, along with the security discussion? Again, more to come on that and I will explore the whole cloud/IoT notion of futureproofing as well.

One very promising note is how sales of digital signage solutions are poised for worldwide growth, rising more than 8 percent per year, on average, through 2022. The digital signage conversation along with implementation, which includes content creation, grows exponentially, and it specifies the word solutions – as those in the AV industry should be speaking on a regular basis. I had such a conversation with an executive of a major manufacturer in the industry two years ago at InfoComm, pretty much wowed him with it – to the point where he was almost speechless in front of a room of other executives where he was presenting their latest game-changing collaboration hardware (as he detailed) to me, totally ignoring what made it a true competitive solution. I stopped him during his presentation and pointed it out as I was brought in there as a knowledge-base expert. Should I have let him go, said bravo and left with everyone nodding in agreement that they had the greatest thing in the massively growing world of collaboration hardware, or sent them back to the sales presentation drawing board? It ended up being the latter as I had found out, and it did end up being for the better for them as well.

It’s no longer Sales 101 or 102 time in the industry, it’s ten levels above at this point.

A piece of hardware, any hardware, is not a solution – it’s something that may have 10 competitive brand options which in turn the partner/integrator should get to know inside and out to know what to properly specify for the client. The solution is in the full feature set proposed to the end user, which includes the knowledge-base behind it, what will put them on a path to rising over their competition, which always keep in mind they have too. That to go along with what will set the seller/integrator apart from their own competitors – which needs to be a daily mindset for sure.

As an industry, AV cannot rely on the concept of hardware-first to fit the bill anymore – it will drive companies fast toward extinction. Hardware can not, and will not be gone any time soon as there have been incredible advancements to that end as well, but it will not allow companies to provide best solutions for the client anymore. Platform is also a well-defined discussion to have now as I will point out QSC, and how they have converted AVC hardware to integrated platform with Q-SYS. There are others doing incredible things in the AVC software and cloud space. Of course consider UC&C as always, and the advancements there.

Cloud, software – and a measure of hardware – will keep AV companies from heading toward extinction. For those who continue to be hardware-heavy and ignore present and future trends of technology, good luck – you will be gone. Global AVIXA report, or no global AVIXA report.

And time for the whole “Wild West” race to the bottom thing to end, if for nothing more than to finally give the client a break. Yes, they are sometimes responsible for certain negative scenarios, however I’ll bet bottom dollar it’s the careless integrator, or the company wholly unqualified to do the job, who causes it to happen the majority of the time. Time for extinction there once and for all.

me peets

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk and Making a Marketer. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers.