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Trend Watch 2009

Jan 15, 2009 8:00 AM, By Linda Seid Frembes


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Photo courtesy of Parkway Electric & Communications

Parkway Electric & Communications in Holland, Mich., has seen lower revenues but higher profit percentages this year. Photo courtesy of Parkway Electric & Communications.

Is there a hot technology?

“I’m not sure if there is a new hot technology for 2009. The pressure of the down market has put the must-have technology on the back burner,” Banbury says. “I don’t see any new widget to sell, but we will perhaps see improvements to the technology or current technology sold at new price points.”

Banbury, whose firm is a member of the USAV buying group, notes that digital signage is still a hot-button technology but USAV member companies have seen only a few companies nationally that have done large-scale installations of it. “Digital signage is still a slow habit to adopt,” he says, “It was thought that retail chains would quickly embrace it, but the retailers haven’t done well lately.”

Collins says that there is interest in tools such as Crestron RoomView. “Basically anything that deals with saving energy,” he says. “The trend is that AV technology will pioneer how corporate clients can save money by improving energy management.”

Zandstra expects that sales of videoconferencing and telepresence technology will remain stable or even grow due to the continued need for travel and meetings. “Several factors impact this technology trend. First, the younger generation is more comfortable with the technology and, second, the technology is vastly improved,” he says. “Human contact is still desired, in some form or fashion, despite cuts in travel budgets.”

Rodney Laney, vice president of display technology for AVI-SPL in Tampa, Fla., says that ultraportable projectors from manufacturers such as Optoma and 3M is the new and unique technology this year. “There is a wow factor to them. They are smaller and lighter than a cell phone, and perfect for presentations to very small groups,” he says. “For flatpanel displays, the trend is thinner, higher resolution, and higher refresh rates.”

Over the long term, Laney sees full-sized LED projectors as the next technology wave and thinks the corporate market will embrace them as soon as the lumens are within current standards. “LED will lead the way to green technology with 20,000 to 60,000 hour lamps and 50 percent less energy usage,” he says. “It is in the very early stages now, but we will see more of them in the next 18 to 24 months.”

Outlook

So while integrators may be bracing for a spending slowdown, Zandstra remains upbeat. “There is always more hope for work. People are cutting budgets and staff but outsourcing to get things done,” he says. “It’s time to focus on current clients and realize that relationships matter.”

Banbury says that positive indicators for the AV market will come from architects and consultants. “The strength of our rebound depends on their new design work since AV trails them by about three months,” he says. “It’s time to work your existing client base and look at service contracts that may have gone by. Service and maintenance stands to do well in this economy.”

Collins agrees that it’s a good environment to do more for your customers. He adds, “There will be an increased dependence on service providers by corporate customers. Perhaps offer a free service check on their equipment and make sure that what they have is being maintained properly.”



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