CI Summit 2018: Positive AV Industry Numbers Don’t Tell Whole Story

CI Summit, part of Total Tech Summit 2018, is a platform for conversations about challenges of AV industry that belie positive revenue trends.

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I like the timing of the CI Summit 2018, part of Total Tech Summit 2018. The event, which this year takes place in Pittsburgh from November 7 to 9, occurs right before I start writing Commercial Integrator’s annual State of the AV Industry Report.

That’s a piece we do every year for the cover of our January issue, based in part on a survey we conduct with our friends at NSCA. For the State of the Industry Report, we crunch some AV industry numbers, but we also try to put our finger on the key challenges that the companies that make up this industry face.

Recognizing those key challenges isn’t always easy.

I’ve seen some early results of our State of the Industry survey. I can tell you that there will be a lot of positive data in our report:

  • More than half of those surveyed say they see the current business climate for AV integrators as “very good” or “excellent”
  • About 60% say their companies’ revenue for 2018 will be up at least 6% and only 10 percent expect to be down this year
  • Over 70% predict their revenue will grow at least 5% in 2019

It’s Not ALL Positive

The trick to compiling the State of the Industry Report is to identify the truths that hide in between the numbers. That’s also a big objective of the panel discussions and conversations at CI Summit.

Business seems to be trending in the right direction, but are there things that we can do to improve? Are there obstacles that we don’t anticipate?

One big area of concern is how profitable the companies that make up the AV industry are.

Sure, there are lots of AV projects to be had.

Sure, your teams are staying busy.

Sure, your revenue is growing.

However, when we look closely at the numbers in our State of the Industry survey results we see that the gross profits are very lean compared to the overhead. This is a big concern of our friends at NSCA. As an industry we’re still not charging enough for labor. We’re seeing margins reduced.

There’s not a lot of margin for error for a lot of companies. That makes the folks at NSCA nervous and it does me, as well.

So profitability is a big topic at CI Summit. We have sessions on how to zero in on the profitability in projects and on the as-a-service and managed services models.

Really, what we try to do at CI Summit is have real conversations with the AV industry. We try to learn from each other. My benchmark is that I hope that all Total Tech Summit 2018 attendees all go back to your offices next week with some good ideas and strategies that they’ll focus on implementing with their team.

Click here to see the 2018 State of the Industry Report (last year’s)

It’s great that the AV integration industry is trending in the right direction. The key is to keep it that way by continuing to improve profitability.