Sometimes it can take months to come to the right conclusions about a show, depending on when and whether the proferred products actually appear, and in what form.
With just a month’s hindsight there are some clear, but important, lessons we can take away from ISE and our subsequent conversations with both manufacturers and users.
The first one is a real sea change for the AV sector, which has finally started to realise that real growth will only come from user demand – the”pull” so adored by marketing folk. For the last decade, at least, AV growth has been predicated on technology “push” and new products’ ability to open up new markets.
Users are helping change that as they demand flexible (and backed-up) mixes of technology from their suppliers – packages which will help them be more productive, make better management decisions and speed up time to market.
That should give AV suppliers an enormous opportunity, if they can handle it correctly.
And there’s the rub. Lesson two from ISE was that all the sales and service opportunities are not going to just fall in the laps of AV resellers and integrators, or those of their IT brethren.
It’s part of a pattern that had been voiced to us before ISE and was emphatically confirmed in Amsterdam.
End user organisations and business departments are learning about AV and its benefits from their peers (and competitors) or direct from manufacturers rather than sales folk. They either don’t know where to buy it and turn to their other suppliers to ask for it, or they ask those already trusted suppliers to take on AV as well.
The result is that an increasingly large percentage of AV product sales – over half in some manufacturers’ cases – is going through “vertical niche” resellers. There are plenty of examples, including shopfitters and trade caterers handling digital signage; furniture vendors being asked to fit out presentation suites; healthcare and hospital equipment specialists getting involved in conferencing; and energy-sector contractors supplying communications alongside their stock in-trade drill bits.
As AV becomes superficially more consumer friendly and easy to use the trend to non-specialist suppliers presents a new range of threats – including the use of inappropriate products, systems failure, unsupported installations and loss of business. It will be interesting to see how the “old” AV sector and the manufacturers deal with those issues.