Having previously outlined the industry's new approach to delivering experiences and discussed the pros and cons with those on the frontline. We conclude this feature by looking at the level of success this new vision has achieved so far.
The initiative, to move away from boxes and specs and toward the solutions and outcomes, would be only so much clever thinking and hot air if it didn’t achieve its objective – to raise the profile of the industry and, perhaps more importantly, help AVIXA’s members to generate more profit. It’s relatively early days – but to what extent has it succeeded?
“The profile of the industry has certainly improved,” believes Julian Phillips, executive vice president of Whitlock. “I tend to do my work with executive decision-makers in global enterprises. Five years ago, many of these folks didn’t even know there was an AV industry and, what’s more, if they did know, they didn’t care. Now some of the greatest advocates for the industry are these people; they have seen the value of what we can do and the positive effect that exceptional AV can have on their customers and their employees. They have also developed a higher level of intolerance for when it is not done well and when some in the industry don’t learn and adapt. The opportunity has never been bigger; the risk of doing nothing and carrying on in the old ways has never been greater. To that end, I believe AVIXA has played its part in providing the insight and encouraging change in the industry.”
Jon Sidwick, vice president, global, Maverick AV Solutions, feels similarly about the success AVIXA has achieved. “AVIXA is doing some great work in connecting with end user channels,” he notes. “Obviously, this is an ongoing programme and almost limitless in opportunity – but we are already seeing end-user communities gaining a great knowledge of the importance of great AV.”
His feelings are echoed by Jennifer Üner director, of communications at Oblong Industries. “I think this comprehensive refresh has energised the industry,” she says. “It’s global and far-reaching, and that makes it, and us, feel more valuable.”
While there is plenty of evidence of an AV community that is energised and enthused by AVIXA’s initiative, hard evidence of an uplift in integrator sales is, as yet, hard to come by.
“I don’t feel like it has directly affected me,” says Emma Bigg, managing director of AV consultancy Octavius RE, “but have spoken to others who think they are seeing some benefits.”
Her response is not atypical: there’s anecdotal evidence out there, but not much beyond that.
“From a Maverick perspective, we fuel the reseller channel and therefore would expect to see the impact being more readily felt at that level,” explains Sidwick. “From an AVIXA perspective, I know the connections are creating the right knowledge and relevance – but it is early in the process.”
It’s reassuring to see the extent to which the AV industry is welcoming AVIXA’s strategy to reposition it. There are those, however, who continue to see AVIXA more in its traditional role – one that they value highly in what it brings to the industry.
Jon Dew-Stanley, director of technical at Midwich is among them. “The Midwich technical team closely follow suggestions from our industry body,” he says. “We have committed to the training and certification of all our technical and engineering teams to CTS level. For us, being a value-added distributor means having a technically competent team that is able to assist both our trade clients and our vendor partners to gain market share with our products, supplied as systems that create exceptional experiences for the user.”
Justin Paveley, project director at Focus 21, is another. “Our industry needs an organisation to deliver a platform for excellent resources and collaboration, and nobody is doing it better than AVIXA in our industry at the moment,” he enthuses. “AVIXA members create integrated AV experiences that deliver outcomes. AVIXA is a hub for professional collaboration, information, and the leading resource for AV standards, certification, training, market intelligence and thought leadership.”
It’s also clear that the industry cannot deliver these exceptional experiences without the standards, the training, the professional development with which AVIXA has historically been associated – a point well made by Deborah Jones, AV/IT sales manager, QEII Live at London’s Queen Elizabeth II Centre. “AVIXA, for me, is about growing AV in order to experience the world and to communicate in a refreshing and exciting way,” she says. “I believe you can inspire, stimulate and grow our industry by providing benchmarks of excellence. It seems practical to do this through education – the CTS qualified community; through leadership example, such as the exceptional experiences initiative: and the awards that recognise excellence.
“Therefore,” she concludes, “I would say AVIXA is about creating exceptional experiences – and so much more. As a membership and as a community we should be striving to achieve such experiences in our efforts to improve communication and support our industry.”
It is, as noted above, early days – AVIXA is not yet a year old, and a strategy as ambitious and far-reaching as the one it is pursuing was never going to be an overnight success. As Brad Grimes, senior director of communications for AVIXA, noted previously: it is an ongoing effort.
“Part of our current strategic plan is to take the message of AV experiences and the value they create directly to customer segments,” he explains. “We’re involved in conferences and roundtable discussions in the retail, hospitality, higher education, financial services, transportation, and sports venue markets. We bring along AV professionals and customers in those markets who’ve seen success from integrating AV, and we talk about the benefits and highlight examples. From the AV industry’s point of view, it’s a great way to also learn what end users want from their technology investments and how they actually use AV solutions.”
The experience economy
The conclusion has to be: creating experiences – exceptional experiences – is how the AV industry needs to think of itself. That’s not least because, as has been widely documented – especially in relation to the millennial generation – we are moving from an ‘owning economy’ to an ‘experience economy’, and that applies equally in work and leisure settings.
The last word goes to Whitlock’s Phillips. “We are in the experience economy whether we like it or not,” he says. “Let’s learn from those who have embraced that and take action in our businesses to grab hold of the amazing opportunity we all have. Otherwise we will be left behind as a footnote in our competitors’ story.”