AVEC 2017: AVIXA Forecasts Big Growth for AV Industry

Last week I attended AVIXA’s AV Executive Conference (AVEC) in Key Biscayne, Florida, where AVIXA leaders and business experts led discussions on everything from how AV is viewed by end-user customers to dealing with millenials, both as customers and employees, to the expected growth coming to the AV market.

The sold out conference featured:

  • Marci Rossell, former chief economist for CNBC, who talked about the current economic outlook and what it means for the AV industry
  • AVIXA’s new senior director of market intelligence, Sean Wargo, who talked about the market research AVIXA has been doing and what the data says about the commercial AV industry
  • An end user discussion panel, featuring technology directors from PayPal, Etsy and MetLife
  • Author Stephen Shapiro, who talked about disruption in business
  • Jonathan Perelman, head of Digital ICM Partners, former VP of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures and former global lead for industry relations at Google, talked about getting heard and being seen in an increasingly crowded marketplace
  • John Foley, former lead solo pilot for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who talked about high performance as a mindset
  • and Daymond John, founder of FUBU and star of Shark Tank, who told stories about growing up in a poor, single-parent home and where he found inspiration to become the mogul he is today.

Economist Marci Rossell discussed an interesting phenomenon known as the productivity puzzle. Since the mid-20th century, work productivity (output per hour worked) has grown 2.2 percent, but since the financial crisis in 2008, it’s only increased 1.1 percent, which has baffled economists. Rossell’s theory is that there hasn’t been a major productivity-enhancing development since the desktop was introduced in the 1980s. She says that mobile devices, while in some ways good for productivity, have mostly been bad for it because they are such a distraction. Productivity has dropped most distinctively among young males, which Rossell says — seriously — has been shown in studies to be because of how much time that demographic spends playing video games.

Speaking of millennials, she also said that while everyone thought they were not going to make traditional lifestyle choices — getting married, buying houses, having kids — it turns out they are making them, just on a delay of ten years or so, and sometimes out of the standard order. Millennials are more risk averse because they were particularly hard hit by the financial crisis — they graduated into a bad recession and terrible job market. This generation also expects to live a lot longer than previous generations (and probably will).

Sean Wargo, AVIXA’s new senior director of market intelligence, has spent the past few months — his first with AVIXA — deep in data about the AV market. He projects $53 billion USD in value being added in the ProAV market over the next six years, thanks in particular to expected GDP growth. Expected growth for the ProAV industry:

2016 – $178 billion
2017 – $183 billion
2022 – $231 billion

AVIXA announced that it plans to release the IOTA — Industry Outlook and Trends Assessment report — will now be released every year instead of every other year. They will also be releasing vertical market reports over the year on markets including retail, corporate/finance, hospitality, venues, higher ed and transportation. See my video interview with Sean Wargo here:

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AVIXA CEO David Labuskes led an end user panel discussion featuring Etsy Senior Manager in Systems Engineering Josh Henning, PayPal Director of Technology Solutions Rebecca Onchi (who is also now on the AVIXA board) and MetLife Principal Multimedia Engineer David Marsac, who previously worked as an integrator at both Whitlock and the Audiovisual Design Group.

This panel had a lot of interesting insight into how (at least very large) corporations make technology decisions. Rebecca Onchi said that while AV used to be a “nice to have” technology, it’s now considered mission critical, and the others agreed that it’s now just as important as networks.

Josh Henning said that when selling to end user, it’s important to not get caught up in complicated systems — he said you could have the coolest product or thing in the world, but if it’s not setup and working in 30 seconds, you’ve already lost the sale.

All three of them also talked about the importance of forming relationships with partners. They don’t want to feel like they are constantly being sold to, especially not technology they don’t actually need. Josh Henning said technology partners shouldn’t try to solve problems he doesn’t have. Rebecca Onchi said she really appreciates it when partners can help her even if it doesn’t benefit them at that moment, a favor she is happy to return later when say, a valued partner comes to her and needs help making their sales quarter numbers.

David Marsac added one more thoughtful note about convergence — he said that AV/IT convergence is over, that they’re moving on. He considers AV an IT discipline, but (echoing AVIXA) that AV is more about the experience and the environment — it touches on all aspects of the business environment (lighting, furniture, sound, video, etc.).

I talked to AVIXA CEO David Labuskes about where the “AV is an experience” theme came from, as well as where he sees the ProAV marketing heading in the near future:

I also talked to a lot of attendees about why they attend AVEC and what they get out of it. They all agreed that the while the sessions are interesting and inspirational, the biggest value they get is the chance to network and deepen their relationships with others in the industry in a more relaxed environment. We’re a small but spread out industry and trade shows have so much to fit in to such a short time. This event, with no products to see, allows everyone to get to know each other better on a personal level and strengthen or form those critical relationships for success.

I talked on camera to Michael Bridwell, who recently moved to Dana Innovations to be the new Director of Commerical Sales, about why he attends AVEC and what he gets out of it below: