How Strong is the Corporate Market?
Mar 27, 2008 4:44 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez
The 2008 Market Forecast Survey released by InfoComm last month provides much insight into the perception of the AV industry. Where is it going? How are AV companies growing? Where do you expect to see the greatest growth? How big of a demand do you foresee of AV products and services? This 72-plus-page survey shows that integrators have a positive outlook for the industry.
According the survey, business/IT is the top predicated strong market, right up there with the education market. This shouldn’t come as surprise, though. The business/IT and education markets have been front runners for years, with renewed resurgence in the other narrower markets such as houses of worship, retail, and hospitality coming in waves every few years as these facilities re-evaluate their AV needs.
The largest push behind the AV market generally, according to the survey respondents, is the need for better technology. For example, companies recognizing that in order to have more efficient workflows and more productive employees, a better technology-driven backbone must be put into place. In some installations, the value of the technology and educated end-users are overstepping price concerns that companies held previously. Products that weren’t in reach for some businesses a couple years ago are coming down in price and increasing the demand. Companies are learning more about the technologies in the their offices and the value they provide to their businesses.
Craig Wiley, system designer at Single Source Group, says that the company has seen definitive growth in the corporate AV market. Wiley credits the sales staff at Single Source Group for the growth, but he also says he recognizes that end-users’ perceptions and understanding of AV technology has changed from a few years ago. “We have seen a shift of sorts from the customers that are just getting into AV and looking to get it done for the lowest price possible to companies that have at least had one major AV-related system headache from the fore-mentioned mentality,” Wiley says. “Many of our customers now are listening to us more, and it’s good thing as the changes in flatpanel displays, projection, and high-definition content are really making things tricky.”
Wiley says that before a company’s mindset was that the product at the lowest price would provide the same assets and features as a product that was more expensive. Now, however, companies are starting to understand the value-add of the expanded feature sets; users no longer just see these as bells and whistles. “A good percentage of our cooperate accounts want more than just boxes of projectors like they did a few years ago,” he says. “Now, they are beginning to embrace the need of well-thought out and designed system that truly integrate into the conference rooms and board rooms. Also they have been very eager to experiment with applications like Crestron's Room View system that allows for remote monitoring and management of an entire companies AV infrastructure.”
The other factor fueling the end-users’ increased comfortability with recent AV technology is that young users are already familiar with this technology coming out of school. “Many of the large universities are becoming extremely technical and well-equipped with AV,” Wiley says. “Because of this, they are producing entire generations of young adults that do not fear technology, do not have the driving urge to hide or conceal technology, and that outright demand access to reliable technology for presentations and conferencing of all varieties.”
While some integrators might see this as double-edge sword (one survey respondent even said that with these technology becoming more commonplace, the need for professional integrators would decrease demand for AV products and services), many integrators share an optimistic outlook for growth because of this. Integrators are preparing for this increase, arming their companies with additional technical staff and more training—the top two answers strategies of survey respondents. So while the general population might be getting more AV savvier about the current industry technology, the industry is already is already focused to the future.
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