COVID-19 Update

Optimism Continues Across AV Landscape, but Full Industry Recovery Not Expected Soon

AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey show more AV projects on horizon and increased staffing levels but a long road in many verticals and geographies.

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Although it’s certainly too soon to say the AV industry is in full recovery from the coronavirus outbreak across the U.S. and around the world, the ninth week of the AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey shows a continued decrease in companies that are immersed purely in negativity during the pandemic.

About 40 percent of respondents to this week’s survey said project inquiries are starting to return and about that same amount are resuming work on AV installations, says AVIXA senior director of market intelligence Sean Wargo.

About half of the respondents to the AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey project revenue improvements, meaning they can bring back the staffers they laid off or furloughed in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Companies are starting to adapt and find creative ways to fill their capacity,” says Wargo, noting about one-quarter of this week’s survey respondents say they’re now at full capacity with their staff levels. “It’s a little less of the dire situation. At least we can say we’re trending more toward positive.

“The first suspicion is because there was predominant negativity, we thought it was an either/or situation. We’re probably going to have to look the opposite way too. It changes the nature of the results but allows us to better see the blend. It allows us to see the shades of gray,” he says.

“There are enough companies seeing some positive trends as opposed to all negative,” says Wargo. “We are turning some corners for business—or at the very least we’ve stabilized.”

More AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey Insights

Virtual events and collaboration solutions remain the most popular types of AV work in the early stages of recovery, says Wargo. It remains to be seen how that changes when more states across the U.S. and countries around the world re-emerge from various stages of lockdown and shelter-in-place orders.

“Everyone now knows where the ball is, so they’re going toward the ball” says Wargo. “They’ve retooled accordingly as they wait for client bases to reopen or more certainty in some of the vertical markets.”

Higher education remains one of the most tenuous markets with many campuses still unsure whether they will welcome students back in the fall or continue with online classes for another semester.

Wargo will explore AVIXA’s 2020 Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis report during his InfoComm 2020 Connected and the research team could revisit the findings some time in the fall. The weekly AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey “helps gives us confidence to what we’re forecasting,” he says.

“There are some areas where it’s really hard to know when we start to look much better. [Seeing more companies say they expect return to work in late Q3 every week in the COVID-19 Impact Survey] helps us to know we’re on the right track with the conservative estimate,” says Wargo.

“[The AVIXA COVID-19 Impact Survey] informs as we go forward what we should be talking about in webinars and other communication to the industry,” he says. “Our data may challenge or confirm some assumptions they’re making about their business and allow them to plan accordingly and have some contingency plans.

“You could see a situation where company looks at the data and abandons certain part of the business or shift more resources into it. Especially now, the uncertainty is high, so the confidence in the data is lower. It makes you need to hedge,” says Wargo.

“Our business is about putting out our best representation of something with the fewest caveats and footnotes and the greatest confidence,” he says. “It’s much harder to have a high degree of confidence when data is not available or shifting regularly.

“You’re dealing with human responses that can have a marked impact on something. We get to choose when we get to restart the economy, but we don’t get to choose when customers come back through the door,” says Wargo.

“There’s something to be said for putting a flag in the ground and explaining why it’s there. We owe it to the industry to explain what we’re seeing,” he says.

Wargo doesn’t worry about companies telling him or AVIXA that the research they publish was the reason the company struggled to recover or went out of business. It’s his team’s job to provide the data and let companies use it the way they think will best help their particular business, he says.

“Most companies recognize you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” says Wargo. “How the horse drinks matters too. Pointing out an opportunity doesn’t guarantee you realize that opportunity. Not pointing it out doesn’t mean you can’t realize it either.

“You do the best you can to provide the assumptions and caveats. It can happen that people take guidance and it won’t work out” he says.

“It’s very much a time when we’re throwing the pieces up in the air and see where they land,” says Wargo. “If you completely torch your capacity to support one area of your business and it comes back, that may be a worthy tradeoff or it could be something you want to give up to pursue something else.

“A whole abandonment is not the most advisable, but clinging blindly to old practices might leave some out,” he says.