Dealing with the (ongoing) pandemic in 2021 has been no small feat for businesses. The challenges cut across all sectors in a variety of ways. While some organizations profited from the changes, the disruption in the day-to-day supply/demand balance presented its own issues even for them. It wasn’t a typical year. But look at it this way: The key to future successes lies in learning from these challenges and planning and responding to the present landscape in 2022. It felt like much of life was still on hold this year, but there were many arrows pointing in new directions. From the new ways in which we worked and  dealt with other businesses, we all navigated the pivots and the hollows, found workarounds and identified new opportunities. Here’s a quick take on how we got here and what we should be looking to do in 2022 to advance the way AV can unify communication. 

What We Learned in 2021: Blending

The key word for AV in 2021 is “blending” — integration, if you will. Lines that were once clear became blurry as more holistic solutions were sought. Using AV to enhance communication became an “and” for the entire planet. Online and in-house. Virtual and in-person. A blend of hardware and software. Static and interactive. 

Work Came Home

In 2021, when we realized that our temporary home offices of 2020 were becoming quite permanent for the foreseeable future, we began to accept this as the norm and in many cases, enjoy it. There was a great exodus out of cities and into the suburbs as workers searched for more space. We beefed up our cameras and our microphones and even changed the acceptable videoconferencing dress code to include hoodies and ball caps. We were home and working. 

This blending of work and home spilled over to the technologies we use to visually communicate. And while AV was already starting to take its rightful place as a critical player in everyone’s communication strategies leading up to the pandemic, it was now thrust into the limelight as the tool that made it possible to keep many businesses and organizations going in difficult times. 

Downturn in Business Led to Downtime Opportunities

While many sectors of AV dealt with the reality of decreased revenue, supply chain issues, staffing reductions and projects being put on hold, the largest lesson to be learned was about being flexible and finding solutions to problems that were uniquely brought about by COVID-19. Just when we thought we were going to be back into a “normal” routine, the delta variant hit like a ton of bricks, and there it was again, continuing the struggle for many to merely have products available, reach audiences and staff businesses. 

As old revenue streams dried up or disappeared, companies got creative and found new revenue streams. Training and certifications exponentially rose as many businesses experienced the downturn. The downtime presented opportunities to hone skills and get certifications for skill gaps in areas such as livestreaming and IP networking. While many companies had to pare down staff in 2020, 2021 brought a need to re-skill the workforce for what would become a huge ramp-up when business returned in its new iteration. 

Companies now had time to take a closer look at their operations. Many were able to improve infrastructures and complete some of the overdue projects that had been lingering on the to-do list when business was booming. 

Moving Ahead in 2022: Embrace Change and Capitalize on it

So, what really changed and how can we use this intel to improve AV communication solutions for enhancing the user experience?

1. Reassess the new reality

If your business model hasn’t changed in some way over the course of the last few years, you missed the lessons that the challenges provided. In every sector, the modifications made during the pandemic led to some type of innovation. You’ve no doubt developed your budgets for 2022 and have hopefully included new ways to capitalize on the changes brought about by the pandemic. 

The biggest change to be universally addressed in 2022 and beyond? Users. 

Users have changed and so have their expectations. They want to be able to transport their work-at-home tech and gear to their office environment as they head back to a physical building. Users will carry the expectation of integrated visual experiences not just to offices but to schools, museums, stores, hotels, sports venues … the list is endless. They’ve been forced to zoom into the 21st century, they’ve adapted and they like it. Now they’ll expect to be able to have remote meetings on a whim. Or use an interactive display at a museum or a hotel or a store at the mall. They want experiences that are targeted and personal. 

Regardless of your business, you will need to provide a COVID-safe environment in all AV arenas. Physical security is on the front burner, and that too provides opportunities for AV integrators. 

Take advantage of this new awareness and reliance on AV products and services. The AV industry has proven its worth. It’s now officially recognized as being just as critical to businesses as the IT infrastructure. Enhance your portfolio to include more user-centric solutions. 

2. Embrace the universal hybrid 

A hybrid event may have slightly different definitions depending on who you talk to, but most people agree that it’s a blend of two discrete ways of delivering information or communication. For live events like meetings, conferences and the stage, it’s livestreaming or making a remote component available. The experience for the remote audience will need to be enhanced so it is just as exciting and “real” as it is for the people attending in person. Simply providing an option for audiences to attend virtually won’t suffice anymore. The emphasis will be on the virtual users’ experiences, and interfaces will need to be seamless. While there’s nothing like an in-person event, the remote option is here to stay and the experience needs to be much more like reality than it has in the past.

3. Digital signage, digital art, digital everything 

Keywords? Immersive, interactive and amazing. People are delighted by the “wow factor” of AV. 

The impact of digital communication on the world in 2021 was critical. The trend toward interactive displays and the rise in new markets such as esports are just two applications that show how integrated digital products have become. The digital world spread to the outdoors in a big way and will continue to do so in 2022. Digital art has come into its own and as display technologies advance, there is no end of possibilities in sight. Healthcare and education markets have new ideas and needs for AV solutions that far surpass what’s been offered in the past. Here’s a quick example: “Wait marketing” in medical offices and banks can add significant revenue for all parties. Integration of machine learning and appropriate programs could create targeted ads for someone sitting in a doctor’s office. Or on a bus or on a train. Think of the possibilities!

4. Integrate the “soft” side of AV

The AV industry has typically thought of itself as a hardware seller. Those days are gone. Service is a recognized component of the customer relationship. It’s time to recognize that software is just as important as hardware and to capitalize on that fact. There are a multitude of ways an AV company can integrate software into their business offerings. 

—–

SYNNEX VISUALSolv is dedicated to supporting our valued partners in expanding their opportunities in digital signage, UCC and beyond. Reach out to us here for more information on how to leverage opportunities and maximize your value to your customers. 

Today, global chips, or semiconductors, are used for much more than just memory storage. You can find semiconductors in practically every electronic or connected device, whether in computing, auto or power. As you may already know, however, we’ve reached a point where the demand for semiconductors is outpacing the global supply. The number of chips, and related components, being produced isn’t keeping up with the number of chips the world demands.

Why this matters: The effect on supply chains, including for professional and consumer electronics, will soon trickle down to industries like ProAV. Forrester research director Glenn O’Donnell pointed out this “ripple effect” on other markets in ZDNet: “Given the omnipresence of semiconductors, it is effectively the entire economy that is at risk of the secondary effects of chip shortages.”

Continue Reading

 

In February, SYNNEX VISUALSolv wrote about how to capitalize on video wall opportunities. Whether you lean toward projection, LCD, or LED (though, no doubt, preference should take a back seat to the customer’s scope and needs), we cannot deny that video walls continue to be a powerful tool for visual communications.

“There is a wealth of opportunity in video walls and digital signage,” said Parker Dingler, CTS-D, CTS-I, senior solutions architect for SYNNEX. “Asking the right questions can help … ensure [customers are] provided a complete solution that includes connectivity, installation, service, etc.”

That said, what do you need to build a stunning video wall? A seamless display, a best-in-class processor, and a knowledgeable partner who can tie it all together.

Continue Reading

Understanding the vertical market demand, choosing the right go-to-market strategy, and partnering with the right technology solutions provider can unlock huge growth opportunities.

One of the hottest market segments in the AV world over the past 10 years has been Digital Signage. It experienced huge growth in airports, corporate and university building lobbies, retail malls and stores, restaurants, sports arenas, and more. Even in the 2020 market disruptions, new and creative Digital Signage solutions began emerging to deal with the heightened need for better large-screen digital messaging in public spaces. And more importantly, the technology is now poised to play a leading role in back-to-work and back-to-school.

It’s important to recognize that the market dynamics of Digital Signage are different from those of other AV verticals. And success in this market, even in booming times, eluded many companies that didn’t have the right go-to-market strategy or the right technology partners. I used the phrase “other AV verticals” to make a point: Digital Signage is not really a vertical market. In fact, it’s not a market per se. It’s a set of technology tools. Why did I start by talking about market dynamics if digital signage is a technology category, not a vertical? Because key to understanding digital signage is understanding why so many companies, equipment manufacturers, associations, and even customers treat it like a vertical market, and then struggle with both marketing plans and creating the right solution bundles to address customer needs.

One reason digital signage is often treated like a vertical: the huge upside sales potential discovered by adding up all the verticals in which digital signage technology appears. Market penetration of digital signage into Retail, Education, Enterprise, SMB, etc, while humming along, is still low. That’s why all the equipment manufacturers are putting huge resources there, both in product development and marketing. No other technology or vertical market shows this kind of double-digit growth year-over-year.

Digital signage also has some “vertical” dynamics, or characteristics, because success in the market has often in the past involved not just having the right tech solutions, but having the right marketing partners, and indeed, the right kinds of customers.

According to recent market research from AVIXA, the digital signage solution segment reached $34 billion in revenue in 2019, and is forecast to grow to $45 billion globally by 2024. The category has been booming and shows no signs of slowing down. But looking at a booming segment with market stats doesn’t help your company attack that market.

 

Digital Signage – the Boom in Many Vertical Markets

There’s a huge Digital Signage growth opportunity in multiple markets if you know how to partner with the right Distributor, and leverage their bundles of AV, IT, and Cloud solutions to grow your business in:

  • Retail spaces
  • Restaurant (including QSR and Fast Casual)
  • Enterprise/Corporate (both employee-facing, and customer facing, and hybrid systems involving both)
  • SMB
  • Education (both K-12 and Higher Ed)
  • Government
  • Financial (banks)
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality (Hotels, Casinos, Cruise Ships)
  • Entertainment: Sports arenas, and gaming
  • Conference and Event centers
  • Transportation Hubs

It’s a good time to start laying out road maps for profiting from digital signage in 2020 and beyond. Synnex VISUALSolv will present a series of such roadmaps in 2020. Let’s start with the unusual market dynamics that led us where we are today: a boom in digital signage – but coupled with persistent confusion among resellers and AV integrators as to the best go-to-market strategies. As we come out of the disruptions and get back to work, what can the market history of Digital Signage tell us about a more profitable path going forward? What are the lessons learned?

Digital signage burst onto the scene some 15 years ago based on a simple idea: Take the display and networking technology that the AV industry nurtured and refined in the boardroom and the classroom, and bring it into public spaces. The single most important catalyst in that move was the arrival of much more affordable LCD panels: Economies of scale in overseas LCD panel manufacturing lowered prices, hence raising demand, for digital screens. That drove the market for a good 10 years, as screen prices kept falling even while resolution improved to 1080P, then 4K and beyond. The LCD panel ruled digital signage, and a rapidly growing market saw revenue growth even as gear margins declined.

 

In the earlier stages of the market, the delivery and management of content for all those digital signage screens was also a great market driver. In fact, the big CMS (content management system) providers often were the closest to the end user, and they partnered with screen providers and AV integrators for bundled solutions for customers that they brought to the table. That model – with some variations – defined the market dynamics for a decade or more, with the AV integrator often getting involved last, and only at the invitation of the CMS provider and/or a big screen manufacturer. That model was especially true in the QSR (quick serve restaurant) market and indeed most of the restaurant and the larger retail store market. These were areas where traditionally AV integrators were not nearly as active as they were in education and enterprise markets, for example, and so did not have a path to the customer. That, in turn, is why to many AV integrators digital signage seemed like a “vertical” market, one that they could not crack or find profitability in.

What’s changed, today, in digital signage? First: As in the larger AV world, the merging or near-merging of previously separate IT and AV networks is forcing digital signage solutions to be integrated with other AV systems. Add to that new generation display technology such as direct-view LED, and new often cloud-based CMS offerings, with not just content management but monitoring and reporting functionality.

The bottom line on these trends: new displays such as LED, combined with more signage/AV/IT integration, are creating more complex, higher-margin, digital signage opportunities.

From both a marketing and solution bundle standpoint, finding success in today’s new digital signage landscape requires the AV solutions reseller and AV integrator to adapt a different go-to-market approach. They can’t wait for the phone to ring with a big screen provider or CMS provider asking them to come install gear in a shopping mall or a sports arena. Nothing wrong with that, and there’s still business there. But the best customers for digital signage are the AV integrators’ existing customers.

What is needed, for market success in this new landscape? The AV integrator needs to understand the new hardware and hardware/software bundles that will best suit their Enterprise, SMB, and school/university customers’ varied needs. Mounting some LCD panels in hallways and lobbies tied to a dedicated CMS, then walking away, is no longer a business model. The integrator that knows how to put together robust, IT/AV integrated digital signage bundles will win in these booming markets.

Fortunately, the best resources, and the best partners in that effort are – like their best customers – already known by the savvy reseller and integrator. SYNNEX, in its role as a leading Distributor, has leapt to the vanguard of Digital Signage with its VISUALSolv resources, by understanding what hardware and hardware/software bundles customers need, for what applications. This expertise is drawn from its established leadership in AV, IT, and Cloud solutions. With the increased merging of those realms, drawing on that VISUALSolv expertise offers the AV integrator the best roadmaps to market success in the many verticals in which Digital Signage is in huge demand.