The Non-AV-AV Is Getting to Be Bigger than the AV Parts of AV

Since the introduction of the plethora of collaboration boards launched February at ISE, I’ve noticed a troubling and concerning trend: In some segments of AV, the non-AV’ers are doing more AV than the AV’ers are doing.

What the heck do I mean?

Well, let’s take the huddle space as an example. At first, the AV market didn’t even notice what was going on there and traditional furniture companies were actually installing and integrating AV into these so-called huddle spaces. Then came the AV products aimed at huddle spaces — products like the Biamp Devio, the Microsoft Surface Hub, the Collaborate line from ClearOne and the Logitech MeetUp camera. AV’ers didn’t really take to these products — but all the while, IT’ers, tech managers and facility managers at corporations loved them. So, they bought them online from CDW and other Internet retailers. In many cases, they integrated the products themselves.

All of a sudden, we have an entire market — branded as the huddle room market — that’s more non-AV than AV. A far greater number of non-AV companies specify and install these than AV companies.

But, it didn’t just happen in huddle spaces — that was just the low-hanging fruit for me to pick on. The it happened in the collaboration board market, too. Nearly 75 percent of the collaboration boards sold in 2017 were sold or integrated through non-AV companies.

Is AV so busy as to not have noticed this alarming trend? Or are they just writing that segment off as too hang-and-bang’y?

I hope it’s not the latter. I see the same thing happening in AV-over-IP — although this won’t happen overnight — or even in just a year. But it’s clear that well over 50 percent of the current installs of AV-overIP systems were done without touching an AV integrator and significant chunk — likely in the realm of 25 percent — were totally driven by the clients themselves. Meaning, the university didn’t just ask for it, but actually specified it and integrated it themselves — on their own.

On a positive note, there’s plenty of AV to go around. The market is growing faster than it has in a decade and the amount of new technologies and products has eclipsed the mid-1990s golden-era of AV. But, do we really want to totally give away a segment of the market as important as the AV-over-IP revolution? Not to mention the exploding huddle space segment of meeting rooms?

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Did I forget to mention how nearly no AV integrators are spec’ing Zoom Rooms? Sure, you can argue that’s as non-AV as any AV space, but these things are filled with AV products such as collaboration boards form Avocor and cameras galore. And, by the way, these aren’t $300 USB cameras. Most are integrating MeetUps or newbies like the Panacast 2 4K-resolution camera. And now I’m hearing from Cisco that we’re not even selling many of the Spark Rooms even though we sold the client on the Spark Platform in the first case.

What’s next? LEDs?

There’s no question that in the early days of the huddle space, there wasn’t much money it it. There were only $300 cameras and table-top audio systems — but now we have high-quality 4K camera and audio systems like the Nureva HDL-300 that place over 8,000 virtual microphones in a room. These are all products that are screaming “install me,” even in small spaces, and will add a significant upgrade to both the A and the V in AV.

Back to AV-over-IP. I’ve been doing a ton of research on that market in preparation for my 2018 speaking tour — it’s all about AV-over-IP and the opportunities that technology is going to bring us all in 2018. Everyone — and I mean everyone — will have it by the end of this year. But will you be ready to sell it? Will you assume it’s too low-end or too network-centric or too IP for AV? I hope not as not only would I like to see us take back the collaboration board and huddle space markets, I’d love to see us become IP-enablers and help guide the adoption of AV-over-IP. This is critical, I believe, as AV-over-IP is all about TRADEOFFS. There is no perfect solution. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s very application- and situation-dirven. In reality, it’s totally a consultative-selling approach to AV integration. It’s a money tree!

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..

  • Carlos Dalmarco

    Very interesting evaluation and I must agree. From the hardware point of view, besides AV over IP, we have seen a lot more setting up then programing to put a system to work. System components are becoming auto discoverable and self set up, like in the IT world… The other day I was researching on solutions for collaboration groups needs for an university and realized I could use Zoom instead of using a bunch of hardware to make the groups to happen.

  • rick parsley

    Gary my concern is that many traditional AV dealers have such a huge investment in Crestron and AMEX training that they are continuing to look for a return on that investment.
    The equipment rack in the boardroom is going away, devices like Intel unite will be able to handle all of the functions required utilizing USB devices.
    Now zoom has added digital signage and room scheduling to the Zoom rooms.
    These disruptive technologies are changing everything very rapidly.
    The traditional AV dealer and integrator needs to wake up and take notice.
    In my humble opinion.