I trust that most in the commercial AV world will agree that 2021 was a year unlike any other in recent memory. We can all rattle off the reasons in our sleep. However, 2021 has become a memory, and the most important thing is to focus on the future. Considering the feedback that we’ve gotten from the field since InfoComm ’21, signs are pointing to stellar growth throughout our industry this year. This would be a well-deserved payout for all the hard work everyone has put in over the recent challenging period.
New and Continuing Trends to Watch This Year
There are several trends we’re anticipating for this year. First, large portions of the world are opening up, and COVID-19 restrictions are being eased. That’s particularly true in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and parts of Asia. In the corporate sector, buildings that have been empty for months are now welcoming people back to their office spaces. As a result, end users in all market segments will reexamine their AV infrastructure to maximize their workplace environments’ effectiveness and efficiency. Outdated AV networks will be high on the list for mandated facility improvements.
Among the other vertical markets on the upswing are the following:
- Rental and staging: People are getting out and going to concerts, festivals and sports events in large groups again.
- Healthcare: Hospitals are now resuming elective procedures and surgeries that were put on hold during the peak of the pandemic.
- Education: Both K-12 and higher-education institutions are welcoming students back into the classroom for face-to-face instruction.
- Hospitality: Hotels, bars, restaurants, casinos and similar venues are once again filling up with people who are now starved for the opportunity to travel, whether a short distance or a long distance, and get out and have fun.
Dramatic Market Comeback
This second “return to normal” will potentially outperform the dramatic market comeback we witnessed in the second half of 2021. This is evidenced by the rise in sales inquiries and the pace of new-product orders. Our own analysis attributes this to pent-up demand from the early pandemic lockdown months, when projects in progress, and those still being planned, were put on hold due to market uncertainty.
AV-over-IP is now mainstream in consultant-designed projects. This is driving still-wary or uninformed integrators and end users away from matrix signal distribution and toward these more efficient and non-proprietary solutions. The number of installations utilizing IP-based video distribution continues to climb; unsurprisingly, we’re seeing an exponential rise in success stories in nearly every market segment.
Supply-chain issues are being resolved (oh so slowly). Let’s face it: The keyword here is “slowly” — no doubt about it. It’s hard to dispute that 100% product availability is key to making it possible to get projects and businesses fully back on track. Unfortunately, recovery here may remain slow, lingering beyond this year.
Customers Want to Go Beyond Pre-Pandemic AV Technology
One thing is clear: End users have much higher performance expectations than they did before the pandemic began. Older, poor-performing, unreliable communications systems are simply no longer acceptable. What’s more, problems such as video and audio latency will not be tolerated any longer. We’ve all spent too many hours sitting in front of a screen or monitor to accept a suboptimal experience. The demand in all sectors for higher-quality communications — whether in person or remote—is undeniable. Reliable, high-performance AV is at the center of it all.
It’s important that we all step up our game. For manufacturers, it is crucial that we continue to innovate and offer the most capable enabling technologies that can be used in the most sophisticated and challenging environments.
Training for Integrators and End Users
At the same time, we must continue to offer integrators and end users the training that they need to keep abreast of the latest and greatest solutions being offered. We see high levels of interest among integrators for our monthly training series on various video-distribution and modulation solutions, as well as for our ongoing webinars on notable case histories across a wide array of vertical markets and applications. These events have been well attended from the beginning, and attendance just continues to increase two years later! This is proof positive that integrators are striving to meet current market challenges and futureproof their business portfolios. It is this mindset that will drive success this year.
So, it seems that the positive thoughts we were all keeping may have worked their way into reality. It is great news, for sure, but this is not the time to relax and catch our breath. Our time is much better spent investing in this next phase of our businesses to ensure long-term growth, market expansion and sustainability.
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