GUEST COLUMN: Get big, get niche or get out!

Joel Chimoindes, European commercial director, Maverick AV Solutions

The convergence of AV and IT has happened, and its not without some casualties and some seamless and in some cases painful transitions for all of us in the industry. The maturing digital market has finally become more user focussed, with experience and intuitive product design at the core of the parts of the market which are thriving.
Solutions that are thriving and creating new categories offer instant access to people and data, across the world.

As the user experience begins to get more seamless, the expertise needed to deliver that has become more complex. Integrators need more services and experience, far beyond traditional AV areas including IT, digital infrastructure, network security, IOT and cloud networking. To train a workforce in bigger portfolio of skills takes time and money.

As a distributor we can clearly see that reseller types for the last couple of years can no longer be segmented between AV, IT, CSP, MSPs and telcos. Suddenly everyone can see that our space is not only interesting but still has high margins (relatively) and completes the experience picture for end users in a way that is in a word…visual!

This has presented challenges and this is where many of the big IT businesses have come into their own. While they had the expertise in IT infrastructure, they’ve embraced AV expertise, employed experts, done the training and worked with our core manufacturing brands to truly understand how to make a great user experience. As this has been occurring, the threat is apparent to the traditional AV integrators, and the message is clear. Get big, get niche or get out.

It sounds harsh but in an increasingly commoditising market, there is little money to be made in hardware, meaning that integrators need to learn from businesses who already employ the cloud service model of renewable income streams and being able to create technology as a service.

Don’t get me wrong, the high end meeting room with audio for each participant, fine pixel pitch LED displays and room control will still exist, and our Pro-AV integrators will deliver a better experience than ever. However, the really growth market is in the 300 new huddle spaces for an enterprise, delivered across 30 countries for a consistent experience. 95% of the opportunity is within installing scalable, repeatable solutions which will become ubiquitous, helping user adoption. 

This is where go big comes in. To deliver these low cost but highly efficient meeting spaces you need economies of scale, a global vision and the ability to partner to deliver consistently. Only the hyper localised business won’t be touched by how the global economy, video calling and an increasingly connected generation has democratised the meeting and learning space.

Going back to a niche service though. There are so many exciting new frontiers including VR, content led AV businesses who create an immersive AV journey, big data aggregators who make internal comms not only visual but compellingly data led for up to the minute performance updates. Its an exciting time to be niche and know your stuff as you bit of the market develops.  

Now to the last option, get out. We’ve already seen so much consolidation of the industry with distributors merging, as well as the creation of huge resellers through the purchase of well-established smaller ones. If you have a healthy business but you aren’t futureproofed, this market trend is a big threat to you, and now is the time to get out. IT and CSP, MSP’s and telcos businesses need your expertise right now to take advantage of the biggest opportunity that AV has seen so far.