Working in a new country can feel a little, well, foreign. But integrators who ignore the global AV market are bound to find themselves struggling to win new customers that sustain their businesses.
A few years ago, I got a passport, booked a flight to Amsterdam and was ready to attend the Integrated Systems Europe show for what would have been only my third trip outside the U.S. I never made that ISE trip, though, as higher-ups decided my time was better served focusing on news and stories here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. They struggled to see the ROI.
The annual ISE event — which brings together the best companies in both commercial and residential systems integration as a partnership between InfoComm International and CEDIA — set an attendance record that year, the all-time attendance mark for professional AV and electronic systems industry tradeshows. The expo has grown from more than 44,000 attendees in 2013 to about 66,000 in 2016, when ISE expanded to a fourth day and the RAI added another hall to accommodate the crowds.
I’m heading to ISE for the first time in 2017, along with at least three colleagues. It’s a decision that reflects the evolution in thinking about the global AV market here at CI World Headquarters and the potential for growth it still has, only a few years after my trip was scrapped a few weeks before the show shattered its attendance record.
My sense is many North American systems integrators are wrestling with this same sort of decision when it comes to doing business around the world, simply because it’s outside their comfort zones and they don’t know what to expect. Some large integrators have been leaders in going global, and we’ve written recently about the emergence of such worldwide consortiums as the Global Presence Alliance and Global AV Partnership. Even PSNI is looking at adding members outside North America.
Even if you’re not a member of any of those groups, that doesn’t mean you have to plant your flag on foreign soil on your own, but you might have to team up with a company you’ve traditionally looked at as a rival or competitor.
In many cases, when we write about how a particular integrator started working overseas, it wasn’t necessarily something they had in their long-term strategic plan, but more something a large or loyal customer asked them to do and they did it.
Those companies, despite their initial reticence, are finding various levels of success in the largely-untapped overseas market. About two-thirds of InfoComm’s members are from the U.S. and Canada, while about two-thirds of the global AV opportunities are outside North America.
Companies are becoming increasingly global and that means integrators need to do so, or run the risk of losing those global clients to someone else. And, if you keep walking away from clients who are growing because you’re not ready to do it, how long do you actually think you’ll survive if you’re installing one-off systems in mom-and-pop shops in your neighborhood?
Is Your Business Prepared for 2017?
NSCA’s Chuck Wilson and CI’s Tom LeBlanc crunch industry survey results, identify where the industry stands, lay out imposing challenges and lay out strategies for success in 2017 and beyond during the 7th Annual Integration Business Outlook Presented by CI & NSCA.