With 30 years in the AV integration industry under his belt, Almo Pro A/V executive VP/COO Sam Taylor can draw from a lot of context. When I talked to him during the first of two Almo E4 AV Tour stops this week, I knew he’d have a unique perspective on blockbuster industry news that InfoComm International has rebranded as AVIXA and that Harman Professional Solutions is laying off 650 employees.
Taylor talked with the Teaneck, N.J., edition of E4 AV Tour in the background, which he said was packed despite forecasts of Hurricane Jose impacting the Northeast coastline. The next E4 AV Tour stop is Oct. 3 in Irvine, Calif.
What are some of the things you want to make sure people take advantage of while they’re at E4 today?
Definitely our hands-on workshops, particularly our digital signage workshop. Attendees have the opportunity to sit down with one of our business development managers at a workstation, and actually create content, then learn how adding services to their portfolios can broaden their reach and make them more profitable.
This type of workshop takes the fear and unknown out of it when attendees see it’s relatively easy to do, and makes them realize it’s something that they can be utilizing Almo for.
We also have many new products on the show floor … [The trend toward manufacturers debuting new products at E4 AV Tour] started a few years ago, when Samsung introduced new pro displays at one of our E4s, and it has continued on.
I want to talk to you about a couple of the big industry stories from last week. The news that Harman is laying off 650 employees — what’s your perspective on what it means for the industry?
There are talented professionals who are losing their jobs, which is unfortunate. However, if they choose to stay in this industry, I’m confident they will end up on their feet with other companies, and will do well and continue to thrive and contribute greatly to our evolving marketplace.
As far as how this news affects the channel, it’s simply too early to know how it’s all going to shake out. For now, we are going with business as usual.
What about the news that InfoComm International has rebranded as AVIXA? I’m interested in the rebranding aspect of it. What are your thoughts on whether or not as the market evolves, the industry, or many companies in the industry, ought to be exploring how they need to be presenting themselves and even considering rebranding?
The most successful integrators are focusing on end-user outcomes. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the technology — it’s really about that end-user’s customer experience. For example, when they walk into the boardroom and they push the button, does it happen? Is it easy to use? Does it create good outcomes?
So, I think it was a good move by [InfoComm Inernational] to change its name, because I think it’s a good direction for our customers and our whole industry ahead to have a greater focus on the customer and the whole user experience.
For us, it’s focusing on our customer’s experience, and helping them create a better user experience for their end-user. As far as rebranding, I don’t think our integrators need to go out and change their names. I just think they have to make sure their focus is on creating value and good experiences for their customers, which is why I think Almo has been successful since 1946 — because we really focus on our customers, and doing what’s right for our customers.
I don’t think you’re going to see us change our name over it, but it says to us that we have to make sure that we are providing the resources necessary for our integrators to provide the good experiences and outcomes for their end-user.
Earlier you said the industry is going pretty strong right now. Can you elaborate on how you see things going as we approach the end of 2017?
I think it’s on a nice growth path this year. I think that that should continue into 2018, as long as the economy continues to grow. It seems to be growing at not a crazy rate, but at least we’re continuing the growth that we’ve experienced in the past couple of years.
We’re starting to see 4K displays. I think 2018 will be the year where the pro AV space will pretty much switch from the 1080p panels to 4K. I think a year from now, if we’re talking about this, I’d be surprised if any of our partners — all the big names — don’t have a total 4K lineup. They may have a few legacy 1080p products, but I think 2017 to 2018 is when the big switch-over happens.
I think that’s good for our industry, because there will be a lot of people that want to update to 4K.
The other hot area is the collaboration space. Anything that we sell from our vendor partners touching the collaboration space is really hot. That’s continuing to explode, and more and more people are putting in huddle rooms. That segment of the market is really taking off. I think that will continue to explode into 2018, as well.
Learn more about the Almo E4 AV tour here.