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Opinion: has the corporate AV market ever been in such rude health?

Demand for videoconferencing installations has spiked in recent years, as an increasing number of corporations specify VC tech for headquarters and satellite offices, driven by the demand for collaborative solutions.

Demand for videoconferencing installations has spiked in recent years, as an increasing number of corporations specify VC tech for headquarters and satellite offices, driven by the demand for collaborative solutions.

Unsurprisingly, the UK’s leading AV distributors and integrators are benefiting from this upturn in conferencing activity, as well as the associated boom in wider corporate AV specification – allowing even companies that don’t engage directly with VC to benefit. But will the boom last and what else is in store?
Strategic research and business consultant Acclaro Growth Partners certainly thinks so. Last year, it predicted that the commercial AV market is set to become a $114 billion global industry by 2016 – an 11% compound annual growth in demand for AV products and services since 2012 – with further industry growth anticipated.

The Acclaro Growth Partners 2014 Global AV Market Definition and Strategy Study, conducted on behalf of InfoComm International, reckons growth of conferencing, signal management, AV acquisition and delivery equipment, plus streaming media, is the main driver. It is currently the only worldwide study aimed at sizing the commercial AV industry.

Unsurprisingly, increased collaboration is seen as a key reason behind the boom. “The AV industry is strong, thanks to a rebounding economy and a growing need for collaboration,” David Labuskes (CTS, RCDD), executive director and CEO for InfoComm International, explained on release of Acclaro’s findings.

Of course, ‘collaboration’ essentially equates to meeting rooms – from so-called ‘huddle spaces’ to larger conference suites – with VC, touch technology et al coming together to generate the corporate AV boom we’re experiencing. And if these meeting spaces are a barometer for sustained growth in the sector, it certainly looks like the future is rosy.

Sam Baker, group sales director at Steljes, told me that – based on research by Wainhouse Research, Hoovers, Herman Miller and Futuresource – the UK has a market potential of 4.3 million meeting spaces.

She reckons we’re on the cusp of a “revolution” in working practices, with more personal devices in the workplace, a growth in flexible working and increased collaboration solutions and cloud-based tools and services.

She adds: “Obviously, technology will be at the heart of this working revolution, but those that supply and implement the technology will be just as – if not more – influential.”

Wayne Mason, head of group products & marketing, Imago ScanSource, agrees that we’re currently witnessing a corporate AV “explosion” – in the videoconferencing market in particular.

“I’ve been working in and around videoconferencing for 20 years, and things have never been this exciting. Previously, people have talked about a ‘breakthrough year’, but although there have been some spikes allowing us to grow the market, it’s only now we’re seeing an explosion. The market will continue to evolve and ultimately the demands of the corporate market will be fulfilled.”

Other key industry players concur, predicting even more lucrative times ahead as the corporate market grows into the evolving technology that’s now available, and the technology responds to this increased demand by evolving still further.

Maverick UK director Simon Fagan confirms that the adoption of AV technology will “speed up” in the corporate space going forward, thanks, in part, to companies such as Microsoft creating fully integrated platform products. (See last month’s column on Microsoft Surface Hub.)

“Technology will become easier to use and, as a result, even more ubiquitous in corporate environments. I expect to see interactive engagement being designed into vertical solutions, with display touch integral to specification.”

And Jon Dew-Stanley, director of the solutions division at Midwich, sees further integration of IP solutions as key: “In recent years we have seen an increased demand for IP solutions being integrated onto corporate networks, and we anticipate further evolution of this as corporate customers look to become even more efficient at communicating internally and externally.
Others see touch products as being influential in key changes to the market, with further evolution and growth as a result.
“We’re clearly living in a world of touch, but corporate AV solutions must develop in the same way as laptops and smart devices,” explains Shaun Marklew, sales and marketing director at Sahara Presentations Systems.
“For instance, there is now the expectation that we can touch large screen displays just as we do with phones and tablets. The technology is already here and the AV market is here to guide corporate customers to their perfect solution.”

Stephen Tyler, managing director of Mentor Distribution, agrees and sees touchscreen size limitations as key to unlocking further technological innovation in the sector. “Touch has a size limit, so improved gesture technology is essential in order to enhance the end-user experience. And of course, this will have a huge impact on corporate AV as corporations demand larger display solutions.”

It’s clear that the corporate AV market is set for further growth as long as the demand for collaboration solutions and the availability of meeting spaces continues. Those involved with all aspects of corporate AV, including VC, touch, audio, video, streaming etc are all set to benefit. Indeed, it’s hard to argue with Acclaro Growth Partners’ predictions, which may need revising up come 2016.