The good news for the systems integration world is work is still readily available, based on the latest results of InfoComm International’s Pro-AV Business Index. You can attribute the “summer slowdown” to the slight drop in the index in both sales and employment from May to June, officials say.
In the July report, which encompasses June’s poll, the sales index dropped from 62.5 to 57.7 percent of respondents whose sales had either stayed the same or grown at least 5 percent, while the employment index fell from 60.5 to 58.3. Any number above 50 is an indication of a healthy market.
Respondents say the biggest issue they’ve encountered in hiring is finding qualified workers. The employment index has ranged from 57.3 to 60.5 since its inception. Launched in September 2016, the monthly Pro-AV Business Index uses the findings of about 450 to 500 members of InfoComm’s AV Intelligence Panel to determine the health of the industry, both in sales and in employment.
The Pro-AV Business Index is based largely on the American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Billings Index, which dates back more than 20 years and tracks the health of the construction industry every month.
There’s a reason InfoComm used the AIA as a model for its index. James Chu, InfoComm’s director of market research, came from the AIA two years ago and still talks regularly with longtime AIA chief economist Kermit Baker.
Chu is waiting to make any grand pronouncements about the Index until InfoComm collects 18 to 24 months of data, saying it’s too soon to do any cogent analysis at this point, especially without year-to-year comparisons.
“We need more data,” says Chu. “The market’s been strong, but we’ll have to see what happens as we get more data.”
Although the June results reflect what Chu calls “a summer slowdown” based on responses from the panelists, he points to March (71.6) as a particularly strong month, perhaps a time when systems integrators were getting paid for work they’re now completing in the summer.
InfoComm director of communications Brad Grimes sees the systems integration industry continuing to grow and similar reasons for optimism in the overall economy, but the index is based on the monthly query of the hand-picked list that must qualify to be part of the panel and can earn points for InfoComm perks.
The Intelligence Panel could grow to about 750 worldwide members at some point, says Grimes, but there’s some reason to keep it somewhat exclusive and not make it a reflection of all of InfoComm’s members.
In addition to asking systems integration respondents to quantify their sales and employment growth or decline, the monthly survey asks them about AV/IT convergence and other pertinent topics every month, says Chu. He’ll extrapolate the findings and look at construction spending, consumer confidence and other factors once there’s enough data to make it worthwhile, he says.
InfoComm is also working with the AV User Group to develop a purchase index for end users, says Grimes.