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AV2030: threats and opportunities

“The shift to become a turnkey solutions provider is both the opportunity and the threat”

Picture: Vanti

Previously we considered how things could change for established and emerging technologies and markets, before looking at what ecosystems could tie everything together. We then revealed the changing nature of the relationship between integrators and end users. Here, in the final part of this AV2030 series, Ian McMurray details where the opportunities lie for the industry, but cautions that they could come with significant risks.

Given what’s going away, what’s changing and what’s coming over the next 10 years – what does the AV industry see as the threats and opportunities it faces?

“The opportunities are in value-added services and the increasing need for them,” says Sean Wargo, who is senior director of market intelligence for AVIXA. “The threat is in expanding competition as new and non-traditional provider firms are lured to the growing opportunities. With a better than GDP growth outlook for the sector, you can be sure competition will increase – but rather than fighting over scraps, we see a growing pie with lots for all. The key will be how firms differentiate themselves. Staying in the low-end fray of installation only will be a tough place to sit. Some companies will buy solutions on price alone, as is always the case, but savvy providers will know when to cut and run from a bad deal, which will be one in which quality of experience is compromised too much in favour of lower cost. That’s easier said than lived, of course.”

Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe, warms to the theme. “The shift to become a turnkey solutions provider is both the opportunity and the threat,” she believes. “We expect elements of AV, IT and telecommunications to grow together and form joint ventures, or even integrate entirely. AV and IT are no longer separate. System integrators are becoming consultants for the entire project, not just one element of it. Telecommunications companies are already shifting to become integrators offering the complete solution – where, in the past, they would have stopped as soon as the cable hit the wall.”

“System integrators are becoming consultants for the entire project, not just one element of it”
Jasmin Stemmler, NEC Display Solutions

For Claire Kerrison, senior market analyst professional displays at Futuresource, smart buildings – if not smart cities – present a significant opportunity for the AV industry.

Cost-saving measures
“Data will be central to the AV industry over the next decade and this will be particularly evident in the rise of smart buildings,” she considers. “The ability to offer end users tangible cost-saving measures as part of their AV upgrade will prove highly valuable to the entire industry.” 

“But,” she continues, “mounting concerns regarding data privacy and ownership could hinder the potential for data analytics. Education and transparency with the general public on what is being captured, where it is stored and how it is analysed will prove crucial to eroding these concerns and allowing the full potential of big data/IoT to be realised.”

Rob Smith, senior director, integrated systems sales at Shure, is positive about the future – in terms of growth in as yet underdeveloped markets, but also as users’ technology-dependence grows. He is, however, wary of the impact of the impact of a growing phenomenon that has become a source of concern to the channel.

“The simplification of many solutions used by our customers, and the ability of software to provide the functions that previously needed multiple pieces of hardware to achieve, can be seen as a threat to the traditional business model used by our industry in the past,” he says. “However: I believe that the opportunities available to those companies that can adapt and lead the coming changes point to a bright future for our industry.”

As noted previously: the challenge is for the channel to become increasingly creative and imaginative in identifying new – and, ideally, continuing – revenue streams. 

The VR opportunity
And then there is the XR (VR, AR, MR) conundrum. Now an established event in the ISE calendar, the XR Summit implicitly acknowledges that extended reality is an opportunity for the AV industry. Frank Reynolds, who is European marketing manager at Antycip Simulation, is certainly a believer. 

“New ways to collaborate will see our VR technologies become more widely adopted as VR gets easier for companies to work with their own data and simulation may become more of a necessity in some aspects of our learning curves,” he enthuses. “Virtual prototyping and simulation will become a necessity for a huge number of companies, and virtual content can open up doors for countless procedural training tools addressing a multitude of professional uses.”

Inevitably, in a look-forward of this nature, the industry’s predictions are based on extrapolations of what it sees and knows today: for the most part, that will always be the case, whatever we’re predicting. Change will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. That said: no-one should underestimate the likely impact of AI, big data and machine learning. In commercial terms, those inter-related technologies are still, relatively, in their infancy – but they have the potential to be transformative across the board: from the user experience to higher reliability and uptime, they will have more impact than any foreseeable development in either video or audio technology. And: the changes they will engender will be made possible by the universal interconnectivity that the Internet of Things will enable. 

We may not be able to look forward to a 2030 where roads have been replaced by tubes, or apes are driving us around – or even to having our own personal helicopters, as predicted by Popular Mechanics in 1951 – but it’s clear that we will be able to look forward to an AV industry that continues to thrive.