Predictions are a funny thing. When one of them comes true, it seems no one can remember who actually predicted it because everyone takes credit for it. But, when someone makes a prediction that’s so spectacularly wrong, there’s no doubting the origin—and there’s often a rush to point and laugh at how wrong it was.
Pop culture has taught us that even Hollywood can’t make predictions into reality. We all saw the Jetsons getting around in flying cars, but we’re still waiting for those.
The “Back to the Future” trilogy made us all want hover boards and self-lacing shoes, both of which now exist in some form. The movie even predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series, but was a year early in breaking the 108-year drought that ended in November.
It’s with that backdrop we present a baker’s dozen of brave souls from both the manufacturer and integrator side who are putting their reputations on the line to help us look into the future, all the way to the end of 2017, to find out how this industry will change over the next 12 months.
Please do your best not to laugh too hard at their prognostications; they might actually be right!
See if you can pick up on some of the common themes that run throughout these predictions.
Here’s one hint: it sounds like we’ll be writing about a lot more mega-deals in 2017.
Rod Andrewson, manager of technology and quality control at 2013 CI Integrator of the Year CCS Presentation Systems:
“Blue or red, now that we all know what lies ahead, we will see project holds and delays disappear and the floodgates will open for much-needed technology upgrades and refreshes in all of the market verticals and geographic regions. This may sound cliché or ‘me too,’ but Direct View LED will be a big game-changer in 2017.
“Projectors will rebound as we all start to adopt alternate projection screen products, i.e. Screen Innovations Black Diamond, Zero-G and Slate products. These are real solutions to contrast issues of the past.
“Custom is where we are going! We have always been there with the unique custom solutions for our customers, but now our customers are looking for distinguishers, uniqueness and a real sense of standing alone in many of their applications of our visual and audio communication technologies and the way they touch their employees and customers.
“The maker industry excites me like nothing has in a long time and we can provide them as much help as they can provide us. Collaboration and communication tools to share visuals, audio and products are keys to this industry!”
Thomas Berry, CEO of Verrex:
“[We’re going to see] further consolidation of the industry through mergers and acquisitions, including companies just on the AV peripheral; integrators expanding internationally (most through M&A and partnerships) as growth opportunities emerge in countries outside North America; and integrators extending their domestic capabilities with a coast-to-coast approach and a new contender emerging on the West Coast shortly.
“[We’ll also have] entry into the pro AV market by previously consumer-focused outfits as the dividing line between home and office continues to blur; and improvement in salaries, caliber of candidates, training programs and diversity with a greater focus on developing/recruiting a new generation of AV leaders.”
Kelly Bousman, senior VP of marketing at 2011 Integrator of the Year AVI-SPL:
“[I expect] more and more consumer automation features moving into corporate meeting rooms, including solutions like occupancy sensing, gesture control, voice control, swipe and share content from one device to another; and increased ‘coopetition’ among hardware and software manufacturers to offer solutions that conform to the customer’s wants and needs.”
Peter Charland, VP of global managed services at HB Communications:
“With many enterprises now far along with collaboration standards which span the conference room or desktop, regardless of office or mobility, the landscape is changing for integrators. Custom integration and standards-based collaboration – unified, single-SKU collaboration solutions from Cisco, Polycom or Microsoft with Skype – now work in unison as part of an end-to-end cloud solution. Bringing all this together are the managed services necessary to support this movement and its users on a global scale.”
Richard Fairbrother, North American director of sales at Datasat:
“In terms of commercial technologies and integrations, we predict that art will have a lot of influence on business. We think that as technology advances, so too will the desire for this technology to be in companies, from the conference room to the break room. Products are maximizing business efficiencies and workflow. But we also see an influx of demand for sleek products with good interfaces, influenced by workstations, GUIs and other developments in the movies. It’s the year where substance meets style.”
Ron Gaboury, CEO at 2015 Integrator of the Year Yorktel:
“[I expect] decreased customer spending due to the uncertainty of the financial impact of the incoming federal government administration, an increase in “next-generation workplace” business environments and an increase in corporate acquisitions, as companies look to stay relevant in the marketplace and may need to expand their offerings portfolio. Unified communications is also on the rise and business customers want to integrate and consolidate their technologies. That means a provider needs to provide more in order to substantiate their one-stop position.”
Bin Guan, CTO at Yorktel:
“With Microsoft Surface Hub, Microsoft Rigel Project, Cisco MX and other pre-integrated room systems becoming popular, the room systems become commodity. More customers (from small to large to global enterprises) will move to Microsoft SfB and Cisco Spark. Hence, Microsoft/Polycom, Cisco provide end-to-end collaboration solutions without system integrators. Their partners are looking for new areas to survive.
“Also, the industry will continue consolidate via M&A, more SIs will play in other vertical markets including health care, education and finance; and cloud and analytics will continue to be accepted by large enterprise and mid-market customers.”