Global and granular looks at the audiovisual market

Trade association InfoComm does first-of-its-kind as well as ongoing research.

Trade association InfoComm does first-of-its-kind as well as ongoing research.

by Patrick McLaughlin

Earlier this year InfoComm International (www.infocomm.org), a trade association for the professional audiovisual and information-communications industries, released the results of a study it commissioned to examine the global audiovisual market. InfoComm enlisted Acclaro Growth Partners (www.acclaropartners.com) to carry out the research. InfoComm described the effort as “the first worldwide study of its kind aimed at sizing the commercial AV industry.”

The resulting report, The 2010 InfoComm Global AV Market Definition and Strategy Study, projects that AV products and services will become a $91 billion global industry by 2012. “The growth of digital signage, videoconferencing, and command-and-control facilities resulted in an 8% compound annual growth in demand for AV products and services between 2006 and 2009,” the group said when announcing the report’s availability. “Despite a troubling economic environment in 2009, spending on AV goods and services did not contract. The study finds that the audiovisual industry was a $68 billion-a-year industry in 2009. A compound annual growth rate of 10% is projected for the three-year period from 2009 to 2012.”

According to InfoComm’s executive director and chief executive officer Randal A. Lemke, the survey results might be considered a confirmation. “While we are heartened by the findings of this study we are not surprised,” he said. “The audiovisual industry is growing because society relies on AV technology to provide essential communications solutions.”

Economic snapshot

Some applications that can be market drivers for structured cabling systems are also significant in the AV industry; the study says that digital signage, videoconferencing, and digitized high-end audio systems will continue to drive AV growth over the next three years. Additionally, the study says the ability to provide total building automation will create additional growth opportunities thanks to an automated building’s energy-efficiency and sustainability benefits.

As the results of that global study were being made public, InfoComm was also administering the fifth in a series of in-depth studies focusing on current economic conditions. The most recent InfoComm Economic Snapshot Survey was researched in February 2010; previous surveys were carried out in September 2008 and January, July, and October 2009. Through this series of surveys, the organization “examines the overall ‘economic health’ of the AV industry and brings into focus the issues, factors, and trends affecting business performance on an international scale,” the company explained in the executive summary of its most recent snapshot report.

The study included participants from around the world; 547 AV providers and 125 end users participated. Details on that study presented in the remainder of this article are derived from the study’s executive summary. The full report, which is 93 pages in length, can be downloaded for free from the organization’s Web site.

The InfoComm Performance Index (IPI) examines company performance over the previous six months and expected performance over the next six months. According to the association, the index does not use hard numbers like actual revenue figures, but rather stresses perceptions. The IPI is a 100-point scale on which the low end is “bankrupt” and the high end is “record growth and profits.”

Finding optimism

Previous economic snapshots showed the IPI declining beginning in January 2009; the decline finally stopped with the February 2010 study. The indicator remains below the peak it reached in 2008, but has substantially improved over 2009 values, InfoComm says. For example, October 2009 respondents were optimistic about the future, forecasting that the IPI would jump from 57.1 to 63.8. That optimism turned out to be fairly accurate, as the February 2010 figures showed a previous-six-months IPI figure of 63.6.

And the optimism continues, as the February 2010 forecast calls for the IPI to increase by 6.3 points to 69.9 over the next six months. InfoComm points out that the previous high-water mark for the IPI was 71.0.

The February 2010 report was the second one to delve into vertical market trends; the October 2009 report did as well. Among those verticals, higher education and government/military showed the strongest demand increases. About one-third of survey respondents indicated demand had increased in these verticals. The health care (29.2% of survey respondents) and K-12 (26.2%) verticals also showed heightened demand.

Health care and higher education are the verticals for which participants hold the most optimism for this year. Overall, however, optimism is tempered. The most popular response to the question about the most-promising vertical, selected by one-third of the study’s participants, was “not sure.”

Only 12.1% of survey participants believe the economy is already in an upswing; 37.5% believe it is stable and will pick up this year. 31.8% believe the economy is stable but will not pick up until 2011 or later. Fewer than 8% see the economy set to bottom out this year. Only 4.4% believe the bottom will not be hit until next year.

Patrick McLaughlin is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

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