INFOCOMM SNAPSHOT BUILDS A CASE FOR CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Launched in August 2008, the InfoComm Economic Snapshot is designed to examine the “economic health” of the global AV industry and bring into focus the issues, factors and trends affecting business performance on an international scale. Released in June 2015, the 19th and most recent version in the research series paints a relatively positive picture of the AV industry but also shows there’s plenty of room for growth…

The survey spans 719 AV providers and 276 AV end users from 55 countries worldwide although predominantly features companies from North America (63%). The size of the companies surveyed widely varies with the highest number of respondents (34.9%) from businesses with gross revenue of less $2 million, and 41% sat between $2.1 and $25 million. With 15.6% of those surveyed turning over $50+ million, it’s clearly a broad spectrum.

As you’d expect, the number of employees of each company appears to correlate with business turnover. Over 40% of companies have less than 20 staff and only 8.6% have more than 1,000 employees, however, surely the most profitable or highest paid workers must be the 0.6% of respondents who work for a $25+ million with less than four employees.

One of the key goals of the Snapshot series is to determine how the respondents perceive their company’s performance and overall health. One of the tools employed is the InfoComm Performance Index (IPI), which on a scale of 1-100 examines company performance over the last six months and expected performance over the next six months.

The recent report shows that AV providers did not perform as well as they expected over the last six months – posting a six-month IPI of only 69.5 against a predicted IPI 77.9. Although respondents remain positive about the future, this is the first time that IPI has been less than 70 points for almost two years. So which companies are hitting their IPI targets and who is falling short?

As expected, it’s the big guns that are dragging up the average IPI. With the IPI score of companies with gross revenue of less than $2 million averaging out only 62.9, this is some way short of the 73.1 IPI that would be achieved if we removed the smaller companies from the sample.

And you’d get no prizes for guessing that North American respondents reported the highest past-six month IPI (70.8) – the first time this has happened since the report began. Over the next six months, the Middle East/Africa region is expected to recapture the IPI top spot with an IPI of 80.0, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if respondents from North America kept the top spot.

As well as the IPI for AV providers, the snapshot also uses the InfoComm Demand
Index (IDI) to measure the demand among end users and purchasing dynamics. Although the June 2015 report showed an overall decline in IDI, this was fully expected and represented highly accurate forecasting from the previous report – predicted IDI of 61.2 against the actual last six month IDI of 61.1.

An interesting new question raised the issue of the most important ‘decision-maker’ within an organisation when it comes to purchasing AV solutions. Almost half of respondents (48.4%) cited the AV Manager, while between 20-25% said that staff/technicians, IT managers, and other department heads and managers made the final call on purchases.

So we know who’s got the purchasing power, but will they be buying more or less over the coming months? Few respondents expect to purchase any less AV products or services, with an average purchase demand score across the report of 3.4 to 3.8 (the 1 to 5 scale ranges from 1: Significantly decrease purchasing to 5: Significantly increase purchasing).

Across the industry, the most popular AV product is high definition displays. With 61.4% anticipating an increase in purchase volume, with an average demand score of 3.8, this product category also remains top-ranked across both the education and the corporate/business sectors.

Perhaps the most crucial section of the report for AV suppliers is where respondents describe what would make their lives easier when purchasing AV solutions. Although there were far-reaching and widely varied responses, a number of common themes did appear – from having a better understanding of the user’s needs (21%) to providing product demonstrations (19%).

A range of other issues clearly have an impact on the user including price, the quality and availability management tools, product functionality and after-sales support. Whichever way you look at it, although the report is a broad-based insight into the ‘AV user’ it does raise some interesting questions. As an AV provider, are you giving the user exactly what they want? If not, they will find another provider who does…

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