Business, InfoComm

That’s A Big Pie

Is it possible that the audiovisual industry hasn’t yet fully grasped how influential it is? How technology solutions characterized by the integration of audio and video could be (and are being) applied well beyond “traditional use” cases? That there are, indeed, people and companies (i.e., prospective customers) that have not yet adopted integrated AV solutions to help improve communications, reinvent brands, delight customers and more? We believe so.

One of InfoComm’s strategic goals is to act as a catalyst for market growth. Not industry growth—although we remain committed to helping our industry members thrive economically and professionally—but, rather, market growth. That includes increasing awareness of the value of AV solutions among various new audiences, as well as reaching out to creative professionals who count on AV, but who might not necessarily see themselves as “AV people.” Basically, making a larger AV pie by engaging more people in this exciting marketplace of experiences.

As I write this, many of us have just returned from InfoComm 2017 in Orlando FL. By most measures, it’s an important industry trade show, complete with products, training and networking among old friends. However, 39 percent of registered attendees had never been to InfoComm before. I spoke to many of them at events throughout the week. A couple of the show’s most prominent new features—the TIDE conference (Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience.) and Center Stage—attracted creative professionals, designers and thought leaders who, by the admission of several of them, had never before considered what they did in the context of commercial AV. And they’d certainly never seen that much amazing audio and video in one place. How big could people like them help make the AV pie?

InfoComm is in the middle of rolling out a series of reports, the 2017 AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA). We’ve done these market-sizing reports in conjunction with IHS Markit, a London, UK-based research and analytics company with extensive resources worldwide. The series includes three regional reports (Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas) and one global report. The Europe report is out now. (See for more information.)

At InfoComm 2017, IHS Markit Vice President Tom Morrod presented some of the research findings, and he made an important observation: The fastest growth in AV adoption is taking place in markets that are relatively new to using integrated audiovisual solutions. Think transportation, healthcare and a few others—industries that are realizing, for example, that ubiquitous video can help them provide better service and achieve desired outcomes.

In all, according to IHS Markit’s analysis of the IOTA data, developing markets for AV solutions, such as those, are growing twice as fast as established markets, such as corporate, retail and education. In effect, this will add $15 billion in AV market opportunity to the pie by 2022. And it’s a big pie.

Preliminary IOTA forecasts show a $230 billion global market opportunity for AV solutions and services by 2022, growing at almost five percent per year between now and then. And it’s not just a function of greater applicability across diverse markets; obviously, there are technological forces at play. We probably saw them coming a handful of years ago, but we couldn’t fully appreciate them at the time.

The shift to more cloud-based and software-based AV solutions is a growth driver for anyone working in commercial AV. Yes, there might be a devaluation of dedicated, purpose-built hardware, but the functionality required to deliver AV services needs to live somewhere; and, according to IOTA, extensive resources are already being invested in commodity servers and storage used for content distribution, streaming and more. Make no mistake—those are commercial AV applications, regardless of physical infrastructure, and they add significantly to the size of our pie.

And, as much as we’ve talked about smart buildings in and around this industry for years, a confluence of advanced control systems (that you already know well) and evolved building systems—notably, controllable LED lighting—really does look poised to add significantly to what we think of as commercial AV.

The IOTA reports are like nothing InfoComm has ever produced. IHS Markit brought to bear 15 analysts from around the world, all of them with expert insight into the growing opportunity for AV products and services. For the first time, we’ve analyzed the opportunity by integrated solutions, such as digital signage, command and control, and visualization. The global report, when it comes out later this summer, will also include a breakdown by customer segment, including those, like energy and utilities, that are growing the fastest.

Indeed, this growing pie of an AV market will attract new and varied participants. I’m often asked what it means when IT firms start to handle AV, for example. My answer: Those are still AV applications, cut from the same expanding pie. They didn’t suddenly become IT applications. The advantage this industry has is its understanding of AV not as just a digital series of 1s and 0s but, rather, as an experience. So, as more customers explore AV as a way of achieving outcomes, it’s incumbent on expert practitioners to articulate their value.

We’ll do our best to grow the pie. Take as big a slice as you can.

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