There’s nothing as frustrating as a great opportunity that’s just ever-so-slightly out of reach. That is the case for many AV integration firms when it comes to an avalanche of opportunity related to mass adoption of LED video walls.
They have the expertise and skills. However, the opportunity is so great that, for many AV integration firms, that they don’t have the volume of well-trained manpower to fully capitalize on what has become global demand for LED video walls.
This is a good problem for AV integrators to have.
Inside the Demand for LED Video Walls
The fast-escalating demand for LED video walls is illustrated by the sheer volume of manufacturers getting in the game. AV industry consultant Alan Brawn of Brawn Consulting estimates that there are about 1,000 direct-view LED suppliers in China alone.
In fact, the global digital signage market is predicted to more than double its growth between 2016 and 2015 (2025) to reach $31.7 billion, according to Grand View Research. There are a lot of bullish predictions like that, Brawn adds, and when they’re cobbled together it looks like “the digital signage market is growing at a CAGR of approximately 10 percent.”
LED is a big part of that. “We see the entire visualization market growing vastly, thanks to decreasing LED costs and improving technology,” said Joe’ Lloyd, VP of global marketing at LED manufacturer NanoLumens, in a recent Commercial Integrator report.
“These are solutions that more and more companies are going to be able to take advantage of.”
Lloyd sees signage in general getting larger, to the point where it blurs the distinction between digital signage and video walls. “Up until now, video walls have been their own digital signage market segment, but that’s changing.”
She added that large LED displays are rapidly displacing projection in corporate boardroom and campus applications, something they’ve already largely done in Federal-level command and control applications.
Jarad Flax, strategic accounts manager at Milestone AV Technologies, agrees. “In the future, I believe we’ll see direct-view LED usurp some previously LCD-based video walls, while also seeing gains in resolution and brightness overall.”
How to Fully Capitalize on the LED Opportunity
The business challenge, of course, is that many AV integration firms aren’t able to fully ride the wave of LED video wall popularity.
Often they have the right well-trained technician labor in-house, but they’re not set up volume- and footprint-wise to seize what is quick-becoming a global opportunity.
Many firms find that they don’t have enough technicians that are trained to handle LED video wall projects are turning to third-party labor solutions.
The thing is, though, just like the 1,000-plus options for LED display products used to address the immense demand for LED video walls, not all third-party labor is created equally.
Herman Integration Services (H-IS) recognizes the demand and opportunity for its integration firm partners when it comes to LED video walls.
The provider of third-party installation labor is buoyed by an ongoing diet of “pretty intensive training” for about 20 of its installers—and the ability to deploy those installers anywhere its integration firm customers need them to go.
“For us, it’s always about what we can be staying ahead of,” says Chris Bianchet, president of Herman Integration Services.
It wasn’t that long ago that only a select level of customers even considered LEDs for their video wall installations. As NanoLumen’s Lloyd pointed out, the falling prices of LED have reset the market.
Bianchet has been seeing that as well, thanks in part to that influx of options from Chinese manufacturers, who have produced “some very good and some not-so-good products.”
As the price of LEDs continues to drop, Herman is getting “more and more requests” to help represent its integration firm parstners and install them. Herman is currently working on “three major rollout,” says Bianchet.
He notes that many opportunities for LED installations aren’t one-and-done types but more likely part of a large-scale implementation across the country or around the world.
“The retail applications for LEDs are absolutely tremendous,” he says.
Thanks to these installations, AV integrators are working more often these days with advertising agencies and mega-companies, some of whom oversee or operate hundreds and thousands of stores and want to “dress them up to be a centerpiece of the retail stores,” says Bianchet.
Overall, video wall installations using LED panels aren’t particularly different than others in that realm, says Bianchet, since most of them feature digital signage players behind them. Because LEDs are a bit more fragile than what many installers typically handle, there’s a lot of education involved, he says.
“Understanding how to install them is the more difficult part,” says Bianchet.
LED Video Walls: An Opportunity Worth Pursuing
Bianchet sees the LED market as holding great potential for AV integrators. “I’m seeing it as the next emergence, especially as these things continue to drop in price,” he says.
He acknowledges, however, that many AV integrators don’t have the staff to handle deployments outside of their region, whether that means another part of the country or another part of the world.
As such, H-IS is in a position to help integration firms bridge those gaps. Herman stands as one of the few companies that’s equipped and trained enough to handle LED video wall installations, no matter when or where they’re needed.
Another training variable that Herman has addressed is that myriad of LED manufacturers. There are a lot of products produced by a lot of vendors. “It’s a lot of money to get people trained,” says Bianchet.
Since LED video walls aren’t as core an offering for most integration firms as, for instance, unified communications and collaboration or automation, there’s a bandwidth issue. “How much can integrators really spend on LED related training?” Bianchet says.
“Plus, it’s going to continue to evolve, so staying on top of that training is another challenge.”
LED video walls certainly bring challenges.
“These installations aren’t small,” Bianchet says. “LED walls are a construction project. You have to be so exact when you’re attaching them. If it’s off just a tick, these things don’t line up. It’s not something you walk into and start doing. But the opportunity to make money on it is pretty huge,” he says.
With Herman Integration Services expertise in installing LED walls, they can help integrators in two ways:
- They can supplement manpower to allow AV integration firms to take on large-scale LED video wall projects.
- They can do so armed with an arsenal of LED video wall specific installation expertise, insuring that the AV integration firm is represented well in the field.
“It’s a growth opportunity for integrators and it can have long-term impact,” says Bianchet.