InfoComm’s Labuskes: Direct-to-Consumer Products Might Actually be Good for Integrators

Labuskes says opening more direct channels between manufacturers and end users is in fact enhancing the channel, not replacing it, and challenges AV professionals to create valuable solutions and experiences for customers.

With the way the industry is headed, industry professionals will have to “play the trends,” as Labuskes put it, to differentiate themselves. But how?

Labuskes says commoditization has, in fact, created opportunity.

“In the early days of the industry, we were established by tinkerers, somebody who wanted to play with something. As things get more complicated, there will be more value in making these things talk to each other,” he said.

Integrators and other industry professionals will be challenged with creating solutions where new technologies can effectively communicate with the rest of the network and be managed efficiently, said Labuskes.

A second trend integrators need to recognize is the change in client expectations. People are no longer buying products, but are instead buying experiences. Playing on this trend can help integrators bring tremendous value to their customers.

“It’s not about the product; it’s about the experience that the product creates,” said Labuskes. “The value in our industry in the future is not about making that disparate product work; it’s about connecting that technology through an experience with the customers of that enterprise.”

InfoComm’s Role

InfoComm’s Board of Directors has been focused on defining the industry to guide the association through 2020 and provide integrators with the education needed to keep up with the rising trends in the industry. That includes the development of a new strategic plan, which will be released later this year take effect in January.

After much discussion with people in various roles across the industry, InfoComm defines it as one that:

“transforms content, space and technology to create exceptional communication experiences.”

“We’re putting a flag in the ground that technology isn’t enough on its own. Experience and communication is the value this industry brings. Exceptional communication experiences lead to outcomes for customers in a growing market of decision makers,” said Labuskes.

By shifting the industry’s focus to delivering the outcomes enterprise decision-makers want, Labuskes says new entrants will be drawn to the pro AV market.

By defining the industry, InfoComm, which Labuskes describes as a “hybrid” organization (a professional society and a trade organization), aims to become a trusted hub for the AV industry and act as a catalyst for the global market growth of commercial AV.

“For 75 years, we have been focused on growing the industry, teaching integrators about technology, etc. What we have never done is committed ourselves as a catalyst for actually growing the market for AV. We want to convince the buyer that they should invest more of their dollars in AV.”

In order to reach this goal, InfoComm has developed five initiatives on which it will focus its efforts:

  • Realign content and programs
  • Increase targeted industry awareness by reaching out to key decision- makers and turn them into advocates for AV
  • Communicate what the value is in AV
  • Reinvent our value proposition and membership model
  • Reinvent InfoComm’s brand identity

Labuskes doesn’t buy the narrative that the AV industry is in trouble and knows InfoComm must play a key role in ensuring its future.

“We are convinced the future is bright for the AV industry,” said Labuskes.

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