Savvy AV integrators didn’t spend the time since the COVID-19 outbreak began sulking and wondering when their next big job would come. Instead, they looked to the future and anticipated the needs of their existing clients and those they hoped to add in the future.
The ability to provide clients with exactly what they need when they need it could mean in many cases the difference between surviving the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and being forced to either close up shop or sell your AV integration to an all-too-willing buyer.
Economist and keynote speaker Andrew Busch highlighted the future economy and opportunities for growth in his recent PSNI Supersummit virtual keynote presentation, noting how the pandemic has loosened the reins in many cases on a segment of the population that’s usually more cautious.
“We’re seeing a huge shift from where everyone’s being careful and conservative to where everyone is being crazy,” he said with a smile. “We’ve seen a significant shift over the past year in how people perceive risk and what they’re willing to do.
“Obviously there’s a lot of positive momentum in the economy right now. We’re going to see significant growth in the U.S. economy in 2021. Get ready now. The future provides big opportunities for those who are ready to jump forward right now,” he said.
Opportunities for Growth in AV
AV integrators are well-positioned to succeed in the new economy, if they’re willing to make a few tweaks in how they operate, said Busch.
“What we’ve learned under COVID is a lot of the technology we’ve embraced is not going to go away,” he said. “Even if we go to a hybrid scenario, which is likely, there’s still going to be a demand for your services and the products you produce. We’ll have a hybrid future based on what we’ve learned.”
With three pandemic-related economic stimulus packages dumping about $3.7 trillion into the U.S. economy, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses and schools, we’re going to see some big changes across the education and corporate sectors, said Busch.
“The election is finally over but the consequences aren’t,” he said. “We’re seeing the biggest shift in policy likely in our lifetime. These will have a super-strong impact in the outcome of the country, particularly in infrastructure and the environment.
President Joe Biden is taking a “spend now, tax later” approach, said Busch, with packages calling for $1.3 trillion in infrastructure spending, $1.7 trillion in environmental causes, $750 billion for an expanded Obamacare offering and $640 billion on affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Biden is looking to raise the corporate tax rate and lift the cap on the Social Security payroll tax and maintain the U.S. tariffs on goods being imported from China.
Energy and the environment “is the biggest change” for Biden from the Trump administration, said Busch, with a goal of a carbon-neutral grid in 2035 and net-zero energy in 2050.
Biden wants to spend about $50 billion to improve America’s roads, bridges and highways and $20 billion on a rural broadband network along with adding a gas tax or road user charge, said Busch.
“Schools have to spend money to improve their infrastructure to continue hybrid learning,” he said.
Speaking of shifting, there’s plenty of it already going on across the AV industry. For example, Christie went from making projectors to lights that kill the coronavirus when movie theaters remained shuttered and the new need emerged across several vertical markets.
The idea of working from home is really about the freedom to work anywhere, said Busch, and that’s a good thing for AV integrators.
“You need the technology to be able to do that,” he said. “It has huge ramifactions for corporate real estate and apartment buildings.
The shift to a digital-first commerce structure means integrators are needed to preserve security and help retailers set up mobile payment processes and reinforce their back ends, said Busch.
One area AV integrators must take note of, he said, is environmental, social and corporate government. That segment is expected to see about $53 million in spending by 2025.
“So much money is flowing into it, you need to adapt or you’re going to miss out on a huge opportunity,” said Busch.
With a shift toward companies needing and wanting more data than ever about the people who buy and use their products and services, “the companies that do this have really benefitted,” he said.
Hospitals are becoming increasing targets for cybercriminals, said Busch, but AV integrators are helping the sector increase its ability to meet more patients’ needs.
“With the commercialization of health care and virtual appointments, patients don’t have to go to the doctor anymore,” he said. “The doctor will come to them.”