“What does success look like in 2019 for InfoComm?” asks InfoComm Executive Director Dave Labuskes. This question is at the heart of InfoComm’s new strategic plan, which board members and employees are working hard on and expect to finalize and put into action sometime next year. The new strategic plan was a focus of Labuskes’ “State of the Industry” keynote speech at the InfoComm AV Executive Conference, held last last week in Amelia Island, Florida.
Labuskes first started his speech by going over some key facts about the industry and association, mostly determined by InfoComm’s own market research. The global AV industry is projected to be $116 billion by 2016, with 11 percent compound annual growth for AV products and services between 2012 and 2016. InfoComm itself this year reached some educational milestones, including the 10,000th CTS holder and 1,000th CTS-D holder.
He also discussed the most recent challenges facing the industry — BYOD and the merger of personal and enterprise technology, the simplicity of consumer devices, plus the idea that some services that are “good enough” (think Skype) are totally free. He also of course talked about commoditization, including the commoditization cycle, in which a company is forced to compete on price, margins get squeezed and so companies cut back on people, training, etc. — which results in price, again, being the primary thing on which the company can compete since resources put towards value adding services have been cut back.
The last strategic plan, finalized in 2013, stresses six pillars, which are: thought leadership, exceptional experiences (a key focus of this year’s AVEC), community expansion and engagement, globalization and workforce development. Labuskes said that InfoComm was very happy with its achievements in regards to these goals but that they had been more successful in achieving some than others.
He went over in particular the pillars of globalization and workforce development. There has been a focus on North America for a long time in our industry, but InfoComm wanted to focus on global expansion, particularly in education and membership growth, because there was so much untapped potential. For example, in 2012, only 25% of InfoComm’s membership was outside North America, but 75% of the total market was outside North America, including some huge growth markets — Brazil and the Middle East, for example.
InfoComm has also made strides in workforce development, many of which worked well, but it is an on-going challenge for many companies in the industry and will therefore continue to be a focus for the organization. InfoComm will expand scholarship and mentorship programs, many of which are run through ICIF (InfoComm’s education foundation), as well as outreach, to increase interest and awareness for young people considering careers in technology and hopefully the audiovisual industry.
Circling back around to the new strategic plan and answering the question “What does success look like in 2019 for InfoComm?”, Labuskes cautioned that one challenge would be defining certain parameters. He says it’s important to define the industry we’re all in, who the customers are and then InfoComm’s role within that community, but without being too narrow in focus. For example, if InfoComm had defined itself several decades ago as the trade association for the film projection industry, it wouldn’t really have a reason to exist anymore.
A key question that many have wondered in recent years is whether InfoComm was expanding to serve not just the channel members, but also end users. Labuskes has definitely answered that question — he says that InfoComm sees itself as an industry association, a hybrid of a trade association, which serves the channel, and a professional association, which serves end users. He talked about three circles of “customer segmentation” that InfoComm had to keep in mind — Circle 1, the core, is InfoComm members; Circle 2 is non-member stakeholders such as decision makers, some technical end users, engineering firms, architects and more; and Circle 3 is non-stakeholder influencers, including government and regulatory bodies, non-technical end users, procurement officers, etc.
The new strategic plan has only just started on its formulation, and is expected to be completed in 2016. InfoComm plans to continue working on it and reaching out to members for input over the following year.
Finally, audience members seemed happy to hear Labuskes emphasize some priorities of his own moving forward, including:
- A culture of member recognition
- First class customer service
- Career building volunteer opportunities
- Differentiation programs for member companies
- A new role for councils – funding for councils was $15,000 in 2015, will be $125,000 in 2016
- Scholarship and grant program awareness
He wrapped up by saying, “We are nothing without our members,” and everything the association does moving forward will be with that in mind.