Which ‘Fresh Horses’ Will You Ride to Profit Growth in 2018 and Beyond?

From IoT to AI to VR, Total Tech Summit panelists show there’s no shortage of opportunities for integrators to thrive in AV integration.

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Which ‘Fresh Horses’ Will You Ride to Profit Growth in 2018 and Beyond?

When I started writing for CI in January 2011, the “next big thing” in the AV integration industry was 3D TV, so looking into the future and predicting what will capture people’s attention can be fraught with danger.

With that said, InfoComm 2017 in June was heavy on manufacturers launching their AV over IP solutions and featured what it called an Immersive Technology Pavilion, highlighting the ways augmented and virtual reality can be incorporated into AV installations.

Unlike the half-baked approach 3D TV manufacturers seemed to take to getting their products into the hands of consumers before watching it largely flame out because there wasn’t enough content to sustain it, VR, AR and artificial intelligence seem to be futuristic concepts that are here today and should be part of your conversations with customers if you want to thrive in this ever-changing environment.

If you’re doing things the way you’ve always done them, you’re doing them wrong. You have to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of your customers—or they’ll find someone else who will. That certainly doesn’t mean you need to embrace EVERY new technology, but you shouldn’t ignore them all, either.

In “Fresh Horses: Products & Applications Your Company Can Ride for Revenue & Profit Growth” at the 2017 Total Tech Summit in Orlando, three integrators will talk to CI editor-in-chief Tom LeBlanc about their feelings on hot industry topics such as VR, AR, AV over IP, artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud-based environments, app development and standardized room solutions.

The good news is [spoiler alert for those who plan to attend Friday morning’s Total Tech Summit session] the panelists don’t agree with each other on every topic and they’ve all taken divergent roads to achieve their success.

Zdi CIO Jay McArdle, for example, says the AV integration world has been part of the IoT space for about 20 years, but most have been resistant to it. Human Circuit president and CEO Bruce Kaufmann, meanwhile, believes IoT is much bigger than the AV integration world with 50 billion devices, most of which don’t touch this space.

Tim Boyd, president and CEO of Save Electronics, sees the advancement of artificial intelligence devices like the Amazon Echo as the latest example of a product that’s likely to make its way from almost every home in the country to almost every boardroom, similarly to how the iPad became ubiquitous several years ago.

As was the case with iPads, Kaufmann believes AI should make AMX, Crestron and Extron nervous.

McArdle wonders if AR and VR will play in traditional AV integration, but it could take off depending on how integrators market these untapped resources to their customers. Kaufmann sees potential for AR and VR in higher ed and retail, while Boyd sees a relationship between AR and VR with self-driving cars.

The overall point is it’s up to you to decide which of these new technologies you’ll embrace and how you’ll use them to help your company build solutions your customers want. The fun—and the risk—in an industry like this is things are always changing and there are always new ways to do things and new technologies to try.

Some of these concepts are more fleshed out than others, but that doesn’t mean there’s no risk to any of them. Which direction will you go—and which one of them will be the next 3D TV?

Learn more about the Total Tech Summit here.

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