There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses, and will continue to affect many industries, including the ProAV and Commercial AV industry as the months go by.
If you’re an AV integrator, you may be wondering how to cope with Covid-19 and beyond.
In this post, we’ll make an effort to understand the key challenges facing AV integrators and also include opportunities that AV integrators might potentially consider in 2020 and beyond.
Key Challenges Facing AV Integrators
As of this month’s Impact Survey by Avixa, it seems that the AV industry is in for a longer than expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic challenges it has presented.
Although economies around the world are slowly beginning to open, revenue decline, and layoffs rather than leaves of absence, continue to loom, as the general economic slowdown has caught up with the industry.
With a good chunk of the country just reopening, jobs and projects are still on hold, and there is uncertainty as to when business will really start to pickup.
According to a joint nationwide survey conducted by the Electronic Security Association (ESA), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA), there’s no question that social distancing along with lockdown protocols has made it difficult for AV integrators to do their jobs, and complete projects.
Most projects seem to have been halted due to “denial of access.” Depending on where you live in the USA, open and closure rates for commercial spaces have varied municipality to municipality.
On the positive side, the Avixa survey reported that, “Among AV providers, 40% reported a resumption of projects over the prior week, 45% fielded more inquires, and 15% said in-person meetings had resumed — up from 11%. And despite trending data indicating layoffs and furloughs, 16% of AV providers said their companies had done some hiring the past seven days.“
Residential AV vs. Commercial AV
Social distancing has limited access to customers’ residential homes, so residential AV seems to have taken more of a hit than commercial AV, as homeowners are still not wanting contractors in their home. In comparison, commercial AV has fared better as commercial properties have been more or less unoccupied through quarantine.
This is also reflected in the percentages of average loss of revenue: 31-40% for residential integrators, and 21-30% for commercial integrators. Figures that correlate directly with the “levels for denial of access to job sites for service/testing/inspections/maintenance.”
Although revenues have dropped and access has been limited, many AV companies have not been hindered by COVID-19 limitations, with less than 4% of survey respondents reporting “that their businesses were denied access as an “essential service” in their jurisdictions.”
Opportunities for AV Integrators
Although the future outlook may seem bleak for AV integration services, another survey showed that close to 60% of 350 AV integrators in the United States, Canada and UK, think that the “delays or stoppages will only last 1-3 months.”
Even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic, there are opportunities to consider for AV integrators.
Solve Immediate Covid-19 Problems
In the midst of this crisis, and as we aim to come out of it, there are opportunities that AV integrators can capitalize on — especially in restaurant environments and remote work needs.
For example, when many restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, many AV operators saw customers investing in drive-through solutions, and this trend will likely continue even once normalcy returns.
Offering AV solutions and setup for people to work remotely has also become a real need, serving vertical markets like education, health, hospitality, houses of worship, retail and more.
If anything, it’s becoming more clear that AV products and integration required during this health crisis, will continue to be relevant going forward.
Residential Networking Services
This lockdown has forced many people to work remotely, out of their homes. Even as businesses begin to re-open, many are continuing to keep their work force remote. This opens the door for residential AV integrators as many people struggle to be more “hands-on” with technology for the first time.
Also, most people have started to realize only now, that their network is not what it should be, and needs to improve. This could be from facing frustration while trying to run virtual meetings, podcasting, or experiencing the best in home theatre entertainment while spending so much more time at home.
So, there may be a real opportunity for residential AV as people look to improve their residential home systems.
Designing Experiences for Commercial Spaces
If you’re an AV integrator you’ll agree that there’s a lot of jargon used in the industry that only ProAV techies understand.
But what does the end consumer really want? Do they really need a lecture on the “hardware” required, or perhaps are they looking for more of an “experience’ — the ideal solution to the problem they are trying to solve.
Going forward, AV integrators will need to become “experience designers” rather than just “integrators.” Although they need to facilitate an AV solution, to the end customer it’s more about the experience, while using hardware as a means to solve the problem.
With new technology being released every few months, and customer expectations shifting as to how quickly a system should be up and running, AV integrators need to think about out-of-box solutions that offer flexibility.
So, if you’re an AV integrator in the commercial AV space or are looking to enter the CAV market, you may want to frame your AV services less in terms of integration, but rather as experiences, to win customers.
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