2018 has been an interesting and eventful year in the AV and collaboration industries. We’ve seen a number of mergers and acquisitions, rebranding of products, new players big and small entering the market and an avalanche of new products. So what does 2019 have in store for us? I don’t have a crystal ball, but below are a handful of predictions for the AV industry in 2019.
- AV will increasingly be impacted by the trend towards consumerization and commoditization of IT. High-cost, highly complex AV integration projects will become the exception, rather than the rule. While there will still be high-profile projects requiring complex AV integration, the real growth will be in high-scale deployments of relatively low complexity. These high-scale deployments will blend the techniques and tools used by IT departments — like know-how when it comes to deploying and managing thousands of desktop and mobile devices — with the skills and know-how of professionals specifically focused on AV.
- There will be an increased pace of mergers and acquisition between AV integrators and IT integrators as each looks to acquire skill sets from the other. As AV projects move from small scale, highly complex custom room integrations to large scale, cookie cutter deployments of huddle rooms and mid-sized conference rooms, the skill sets, tools and processes used in large scale IT deployments will be essential. At the same time, AV expertise in delivering quality audio, cable management and the integration of IT systems with AV components will also be required. The winning combination of AV and IT skills and expertise will drive integrators to actively recruit or acquire skills from “across the aisle.”
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become commonplace in conference rooms. Initial uses such as auto-framing, noise suppression, active speaker tracking and image processing to improve lighting will be augmented with new capabilities such as meeting analytics, smart transcription, translation, voice controls and more. In other words, what you see in meetings today in terms of automation is just the tip of the iceberg.
- We will see consolidation in the digital whiteboard/collaboration board space, as too many vendors compete for a relatively small market. While the collaborative tools are highly relevant in some specific applications, collaboration boards offer more features than needed — and therefore are too complex and costly for the majority of collaboration spaces. As such, the market will become oversaturated and at least one major player in this space will exit the market entirely.
There’s no doubt 2019 will be an interesting year in our industry. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.