Installation October 2016 Digital Edition

Page 26


October 2016

Key Points

Money, money – money? The corporate AV market is an exciting opportunity for integrators – but it can be a challenging one in which to be profitable. Ian McMurray offers some pointers


ometimes, it’s easier to define what things are by what they’re not. That seems to apply with so-called ‘corporate AV’. It’s not digital signage. It’s not control centres. It’s not simulation. It’s not education. It’s not retail or hospitality or healthcare or visitor attractions or entertainment. It’s pretty much whatever’s left – but whatever’s left is a big space. As such, corporate AV has historically proved an attractive market for AV integrators – and, according to a recent InfoComm study, it represents nearly one-third of the overall market and has seen a CAGR of 13% over the past couple of years. “The corporate AV market is one of the industry’s biggest drivers,” says David Labuskes, executive director and CEO, InfoComm International. “The majority of integrators across the world identify corporate customers as an engine for growth. Unlike some other market segments, such as education and government, corporate customers are usually leaders in the adoption of technology – in this case AV technology – as a way to improve operations and business outcomes.” That growth is also seen by large screen displays market researcher PMA Research. “We believe the corporate market for large flatpanel displays looks very healthy,” reveals the company’s vice president, Linda Norton. “Our recent PMA Research survey of US pro-

AV dealers found that they expect their large format flatpanel sales to grow by 23% this year, and by 25% in 2017.”

Competitive market Being attractive, however, makes it competitive – and competitive markets are notoriously hard to make money in. That’s a challenge compounded by Labuskes’ point about leading the adoption of technology.

‘The majority of integrators across the world identify corporate customers as an engine for growth’ David Labuskes, InfoComm International

“It’s incredibly important to keep up to date with a whole range of AV products and be aware of new ones as they come on to the market,” notes Toni Barnett, managing director of integrator CDEC. “That’s a challenge as AV technology is changing constantly and the corporate sector demands innovation.”

The corporate market is the single largest sector of the AV market – and continues to grow Long-term customer relationships are fundamental to maximising opportunities Excellent relationships with manufacturers/distributors are key to integrator success Process skills are at least as important as technical skills in ensuring profitability The situation is, perhaps, exacerbated by the fact that corporate users have been in the vanguard of the so-called ‘IT-ification’ of AV applications. “The corporate space is highly competitive and needs integrators to be more IT-savvy than ever before,” notes Bryan Edwards, head of technical sales at integrator Reflex. “Technical teams must have a good knowledge of data network topologies and software applications, which can be running complex IP-connected devices. The integrator’s IT knowledge has to extend to collaborative platforms. If you want to compete in this market, a high level of technical expertise is essential. “Ownership of AV projects has changed,” adds Paul Childerhouse, managing director of integrator Pioneer Digital. “We are increasingly working with IT teams and within big corporate organisations and the intensely high levels of security can present challenges with remote access during the average working day.”

Complexity Terry Wilson, commercial director at integrator AVMI, sees even greater complexity. “We now see three distinct stakeholder groups,” he says. “Facilities management will own and manage the environment within which the AV is housed; IT is

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