Some 70% of respondents, who included manufacturers, resellers and distributors, predicted turnover growth in excess of 11% over the next year, whilst a significant proportion (20%) forecast more than 50% growth. In terms of the biggest growth potential for the next year, 29% of respondents saw this as being in convergence applications (covering digital signage, IPTV, videoconferencing, streaming, VOIP), closely followed by installation services (25%) and display screens (24% ). Residential was also seen as a potential growth market by manufacturers and the channel (9%).
Respondents identified the strongest growth markets for 2007/8 as being the corporate business sector, education and government. In addition, some 12% of respondents also revealed that the SME sector, seen as a challenging marketplace by manufacturers and resellers, would represent their biggest growth market during the year. The study also highlighted the fact that the residential sector is an emerging growth market.
The report also focuses on the key challenges that the AV and collaborative communications sector faces in the foreseeable future. Understanding the needs of customers and getting closer to the end user was widely regarded as being a key challenge Understanding new industry developments, training and development, marketing and business development were also identified as being significant challenges to address.
The study also identified the hottest topics for the year ahead as being high definition applications and convergence. Says Kevin O'Shea, Managing Director of the European Marketing Partnership: "The survey shows that the AV and collaborative communications sector is in a very healthy state with significant potential for growth in the future.
"However, there was a recognition across manufacturers and the channel that there was a need to enhance training, get closer to the end user and review the approach to marketing and business development."
He adds: "The focus of sales and marketing needs to shift from technical language of servers and operating systems, to how converged communications is transforming business processes. Vendors will need to talk about connecting people rather than connecting computers, in order to respond to the end user market on their terms.
"There will also be a significant training challenge as new converged solutions increasingly come onto the market. AV resellers will need to be knowledgeable about IT networks and IT resellers will need to have a good understanding of AV."
The European Marketing Partnership is the market research and business intelligence arm of VPH, the audio, visual and collaborative communications group. The Future Picture survey was carried out amongst resellers, distributors and manufacturers attending the recent Tech Event, a major event for AV and IT solution providers, which took place at Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands, UK, last month.