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InfoComm’s MDSS offers global market insight

Ian McMurray looks at what the 2014 Market Definition and Strategy Study Global tells us about the current global market.

Ian McMurray looks at what the 2014 Market Definition and Strategy Study Global tells us about the current global market.

In June, at its annual show and conference, InfoComm International previewed its 2014 Market Definition and Strategy Study: Global. The report is now complete I’ve been given a chance to look at it.

This latest market research – one of many services InfoComm offers to its members – is certainly an impressive piece of work in terms of length, running to over 80 pages. There’s in-depth coverage of the market by geographic region (with 11 individual country reports also available), by customer segment, and by equipment type, identifying market sizes and anticipated growth rates.

At first glance, it reveals few surprises. Displays are the largest product segment. Projector sales are slowing. Asia Pacific is growing fast. Services are becoming increasingly important. Nothing new there.

Two values

But that doesn’t diminish the value of the report. The two real values that it brings are that it provides independent, objective confirmation of things we believe we know – and that it quantifies those things.

It turns out that displays are, in fact, 16% of the market and the displays market is forecast to grow at 14% – faster than the overall market growth of 11%.

Good market research – which this unquestionably is – can also raise as many questions as it answers. This report, for example, believes that the conferencing/collaboration market will remain flat in the near term – but it doesn’t really explain why the researchers believe that’s the case, and what might change the market’s trajectory.

Another example: the report, in its section on trends, identifies cloud computing as a technology that will have a potentially significant impact on the AV market. “A point of concern is that the cloud will replace hardware sales,” say the authors, going on to note that “most pro AV integrators have not figured out how to make money from the cloud.” Readers might want more answers here – although the researchers could claim that that is beyond the intended scope of the report.

Thinking differently

Where the research is helpful, however, is in how it can enable companies to think differently. The report confirms that “falling product margins lead to the growing importance of services” and notes “the difficulty of getting customers to pay for them”. Again, no surprises there – but by going on to take the amorphous concept of ‘services’ and break it down into the practical realities of installation/integration, managed services, rental/staging, programming, design and so on, it adds valuable sharpness to strategic thinking.

A useful addition to the report might have been some analysis of potential disruptors – bumps in the road that might affect its forecasts. Perhaps correctly, for example, it sees 4K as being a significant driver of market growth – but supposing 4K doesn’t become as pervasive as it expects? What role do consumer acceptance and consumer products play in making 4K a reality in the professional world?

The report isn’t for every integrator or manufacturer – but for some, it will provide an invaluable tool. Any AV company seeking investment is likely to have to convince a lender that this is a good market to be in – and the InfoComm report provides the necessary compelling data. For companies looking to grow – to diversify by product offering or market segment or geography – the report provides insight into where the best opportunities lie. For companies looking for neither investment nor growth, it is perhaps of marginal value – although the report provides excellent insights into some of the trends it believes are appearing.

Support and illumination

As David Ogilvy, the founder of one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, famously said: “I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgement; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post – for support, rather than for illumination.”

InfoComm 2014 Market Definition and Strategy Study: Global provides both support and illumination.

It’s not indispensable – but for companies looking for a single source of high-quality data about the AV market and where it’s heading, it offers unique value. InfoComm is to be commended for it.

The study can be purchased in its entirety or by regional or country report.