This just in: the industry is changing. Gone are the days of high-margin hardware, profit-rich installations and customers with a clear dependency on their integrator partners.
Nowadays with a few mouse clicks, a high-quality web camera and a little bit of grit, businesses large and small can try, buy and launch web collaboration and video solutions that largely solve business communications.
That doesn’t mean our industry is going to fall on its face. (Wasn’t this year the best InfoComm ever?) There is still plenty of need for installed systems and live audiovisual, but the winds of change are clearly blowing and the egg timer, albeit slowly, is ticking on the old way of doing business.
The Mistake: Whether you are ready to own up to the change or not is another question. This, of course, is the first battle for integrators that want to take a large step forward.
For those less familiar, cloud and mobile are two trends that are infiltrating our industry in a big way. From digital signage to video conferencing, dedicated hardware and appliances are making way to applications that can be run in the cloud.
This transition is disruptive to the way business has been done, but rather opportunistic for integrators that are looking for recurring revenue. After all, hasn’t that long been the Holy Grail?
Problem is, with these services ever so blatantly blurring the lines between AV, voice, IT and security players, what makes the average integrator ready to play in this sandbox? Moreover, how are most integrators going to deal with replacing $20K, $50K or $100K purchases with revenue streams of $49 or $99 a month?
The Solution: For the few integrators that have successfully built recurring revenue practices, this is where you can turn the page; you’ve got this. For the rest, it is time to face the trends and recognize the following keys in making the transition to a world gone mobile in the “cumulus.”
1. Start Now: The big-ticket items aren’t gone yet, but as more and more capital expenditure sales move to open services the pressure is going to be on to replace those revenues. If you can start replacing 10+ percent of your large integration revenue with recurring services such as subscription video, network managed services or remote content generation then you will be more ready as capex dollars for AV continue to diminish.
2. Understand the Trends: BYOD isn’t a technology play; it is an employee satisfaction and productivity play. Employees are literally hooked on their devices around the clock. By connecting employees to their work, customers and each other through their second screen, the client is driving productivity, which is a bottom line generator.
3. Pick the Right Partners: Even the largest integrators are a rounding error to large companies like Cisco, IBM and Oracle that are leading the cloud and mobile revolution. Now is a great time to align with the right partner and start your services business with a reseller arrangement. This model works better for the way most integrators work today and it reduces the time to get started.