2020 is a pivotal year for the commercial and consumer AV Industry
Written by Stampede president and chief executive Kevin Kelly.
A broad range of technologies, lifestyle trends and business needs are coming together in ways that are making 2020 a pivotal and promising year for both consumer and commercial AV resellers and manufacturers.
Technology has evolved from being a utility that enhances productivity to an experience that anchors everything we do at work, at home, at school and all the places we travel to in between. As a result, the AV experience is now a central part of our daily lives and those companies that can deliver these experiences are going to. Those who can’t, will continue to see their products and businesses become increasingly commoditised.
Value, margin and profit increasingly are to be found upstream, away from the mainstream of easily shopped and priced online solutions.
The key to delivering a high value experience that preserves margin and profit for all involved resides in designing and installing system solutions that deliver a higher level of engagement than can be found inexpensively online. Packaged system solutions delivering ‘good, better, best’ choice options build around the combination of both software and hardware present solid growth opportunities for manufacturers and all types of retailers, resellers and integrators. In particular, audio manufacturers have a remarkable because it is a critically important component of being able to deliver a quality experience.
Looking at the major trends that are redefining our industry and creating major new opportunities for resellers and manufacturers, several stand out as particularly relevant and important.
Feature-rich AV is to be found everywhere, including mobile living, which is going to emerge as a major new growth area for manufacturers and resellers. More Baby Boomers, as well as young families, are vacationing at home, creating a huge new opportunity for AV-centric recreational living that includes custom designed and engineered displays, components and appliances.
Speaking of Baby Boomers, more and more of them are living in their homes longer than ever before, resulting in historically low housing inventory for sale. The decision to age in place and renovate in ways that enable them to do so is creating new opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to offer AV and consumer electronics that are custom designed to meet this new market need.
The builder channel is also becoming increasingly important to both manufacturers and retailers as the millennial generation of new home buyers expect built-in smart home entertainment, security, lighting and energy controls. Smart homes are no longer an option; they’re a requirement to today’s younger home buyers who expect to have an app-like experience when they’re home — and particularly when they’re away from home.
In hospitality the customer experience is increasingly digital as more and more hotels leverage the IoT to enable guests to enjoy all of their devices as well as control the guest room’s heating, AC, room access, television, lighting and shades with their smartphone. Displays are being upgraded everywhere to further enhance the in-room and public area customer experience. The need to install larger sized 4K, OLED and even 8K displays is becoming more urgent throughout the hospitality industry. In fact, if there was more content available 8K would really take off.
The opportunities on the operational side of hospitality are even bigger. Artificial intelligence and voice-controlled customer service, virtual reality-based room and property previews, augmented reality in local tourist attractions and restaurants, facial recognition for security and panic buttons for employees and guests — all of these areas offer growth opportunities for AV resellers and manufacturers that didn’t exist before.
Business models are also evolving, thanks to the fact that hardware bundled with software subscription services is becoming much more common throughout the industry and not just in the area of unified communications. As a result, ‘AV as a service’ is finally coming into its own. The reality is that, for more and more end-user customers, it no longer makes sense to own the equipment. They can just as easily lease it from the reseller or the manufacturer as a service that can be updated as needed and expensed as a lease payment. It works for everyone and it’s really going to catch fire this year.
Consolidation is another trend that is going to continue to impact the industry. More manufacturers are going to acquire their growth through acquisitions and the same is true for resellers and distributors. Stampede, for one, is going to very aggressively pursue distributors who share our commitment to value added services and can add to our overall volume.
Finally, direct view LED displays are now finally becoming mainstream in every vertical market, at the expense of LCD displays and projection systems. The difference in display quality overwhelms any short-term design and installation issues and the prices are now at a point where they create a true tipping point for the industry.
The same is true for other technologies that have been slowly percolating for the last several years, including lower priced, feature rich drones that are customised for specific verticals; virtual reality as a tool that accelerates design across all verticals and generates a new revenue stream for resellers; and, of course, 5G, which will change everything in ways known and unknown.
In short, it’s time to buckle up and profit from the opportunities these new trends and technologies are creating! The future always belongs to the bold who are not afraid to invest in the ideas of the future. Our commitment to investing in the future has never been stronger than it is today. We embrace challenge as the gateway to future opportunity and growth for us and for our partners.