The Haves and the Have Nots: The Next Step in the Evolution of the Audiovisual Industry

With larger firms benefiting from greater access to resources, audiovisual industry groups of service providers will be forced to band together in order for smaller firms to support their clients and be able to compete with big firms.

Josh Srago

All the months of preparation and planning have yielded their result and in what feels like a flash InfoComm 2016 is over and the audiovisual industry returns to the daily grind of solving communications problems and implementing solutions.

With 1000 exhibitors and over 38,000 attendees there was so much training, conversation and networking going on it was hard to see the forest for the trees. The new, the bright, and the shiny drew the eyes, but the similarities in the offerings demonstrated that there are still leaps and bounds that must be made as the audiovisual industry collectively moves into a global ecosystem.

There was a continuing of the non-stop messages to integrators about the ways they can improve their businesses that have been mentioned for the last few years. Suggestions of content creation, AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS), and globalization of efforts have all been a part of that conversation. There are some organizations that are doing more than just receiving these messages, they are implementing them.

The question is whether everyone can adopt these same developments or are they destined for another fate?

Having heard of two larger integration firms that have invested in their future with globalization efforts, it was sitting down with a C-level executive of a third that brought to light a possible next step in the evolution of the audiovisual industry – the haves and the have nots.

Size May Matter

Being a large AV firm has its advantages. Constant consideration for larger projects, deeper pool of resources (both financial and personnel), and the ability to expand with greater ease than a smaller firm.

The larger companies’ access to resources is the part that is going to create greater and greater gaps between the two types of firms. Why?

Also See: What Web-Based Kramer Control and Crestron. AV Framework Mean for Automation Programmers

Simply put, the industry is approaching a tipping point that was again reinforced at InfoComm this year. We are moving away from installing devices and moving towards making those devices integrate together through software. Not a new idea, nor one that AV integrators are unfamiliar with, but one that many of the smaller ones are going to struggle to support because we are going to move away from the proprietary programming that AV is known for and more towards the ubiquitous programming that the IT world utilizes.

This is where the resources available to the larger firms come into play. The C-level individual discussing his business’s progress going forward talked about internal developments on how they are managing their customer’s resources worldwide through a just a few central office locations. They have written their own software platforms to integrate into the solutions so they can offer AVaaS solutions that manage, support, and provide data to improve on the support they can offer their customers the next time they wish to make system updates.

Attrition by Acquisition

These systems, tools, and processes took them two years to get into place and have functioning to the degree they wanted to openly discuss them. Two years! AV is an industry that is booming right now throughout the world yet still struggles to find the people that can help keep it moving for the next generation of professionals.

This always leads to us focusing our efforts on what is directly in front of us – the next project, the next job, the next contract. How can smaller companies continue to compete as businesses consolidate under a single umbrella, expand their office locations, and look for more IT based managed service solutions when the investment can take up to two years to even reach the point of deployment let alone see a single dollar in return on their investment?

Many firms just cannot do that because of lack of resources and will be forced to find other ways of staying competitive.

The most likely scenario will be partnerships. Rather than these larger firms opening an office in each market they wish to serve, they can contract the physical installation work out to a local firm that already has the means to manage the labor required to complete these projects and only send in a small team of employees to manage the project, work with the client, and implement the software tools for managed services at the end of the job.