SCN: What pro AV trends do you see emerging in 2014?
Name: Kevin Kelly
Company: Stampede Presentation Products
Title: President & COO
KEVIN KELLY: I predict that 2014 is going to be remembered as the year the pro AV industry really stopped thinking in terms like “Audio” and “Video” and really started thinking in terms like “See,” “Hear,” and “Control.”
The traditional AV industry is maturing, with the inevitable commoditization of product and pricing that maturity brings to all mature industries. But now, thanks to an always-fast, always-on internet, a new, personalized industry is taking shape, and this new industry is being built upon the idea of connecting, integrating, and sharing devices in entirely new eco-systems that are built around highly-customized software applications.
Connectivity is no longer bound by a physical place like a wired conference room or classroom, and is now merely a matter of device accessibility to the internet. A new generation of devices, fronted with customized software apps, are connecting to traditional AV products and solutions in innovative new ways that were unimaginable a few short years ago.
SCN: What benefits will this new industry bring to dealers and integrators?
KK: This shift to easy-to-use integrated solutions that feature customized apps offers economic benefits for dealers and integrators everywhere. For one, the increasing value of these new integrated systems are adding much-needed margin for dealers. In this new era, customers expect more from their communications systems beyond their basic component capabilities. Speakers are no longer merely audio transmission units; rather, speakers now employ a wireless control aspect that transforms their use and value. A simple product is now a network of wireless connections, offering customers a service as well as a higher level of connectivity. This higher level of intelligence leads to higher margins for dealers, thereby offering a wealth of possibilities.
This new environment brought on by smart devices and accompanying software will continue to transform every type of environment where learning, sharing, communication, and collaboration take place.
SCN: What categories do you see that offer the greatest potential for growth in 2014?
KK: We are entering into a very exciting period in the history of our industry. There are certainly any number of reasons to worry about the health and profitability of certain traditional product categories, but we believe the influx of new product categories are going to tremendously and positively reinvigorate sales of traditional product categories while igniting new sales of new categories. Specifically, we believe the industry’s growth is going to be fueled by sales of video surveillance and security products; IP video, cameras, and control products; videoconferencing; unified communications; wireless audio systems; wearable devices such as smart/video glasses and video watches; power line devices; and tablets.
SCN: What’s driving the growth in sales in these new product categories?
KK: In a word: mobile! Our entire industry, and the end user customers we serve, are living and working on mobile devices like never before. A full 78 percent of all Facebook users access their pages at least once a month via a mobile device. Sixty percent of Twitter users do the same thing the same way. Mobile page views on LinkedIn are up 250 percent this year alone. Sixty percent of all Yelp searches come from mobile devices. This permanent and growing shift to mobile professional and personal lifestyles is what is driving the sales growth of all new product categories from surveillance and security to wireless audio and wearable devices. And the key thing to remember is that these new category sales are reigniting the sales of traditional product categories.
SCN: How is Stampede reacting to these seismic industry changes?
KK: With a name like Stampede, we will never ever stand still! We’ve opened up new offices in Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; and Seattle, WA. We’ve increased our credit lines to qualified customers. We’ve launched a Business Development Group that is focused on increasing the sales of targeted lines. Our Specialist Unified Communications Team grew sales in their category by 94 percent in 2013 with a portfolio that included Phoenix Audio, Clear One, Sony, MediaPointe, Vaddio, Vidyo, Bluejeans, and ChorusCall.
SCN: Clearly, you’re bullish about the future of the pro AV industry in North America.
KK: Our industry will always have its share of challenges to face, but we will meet them head on with innovative new products that are supported by equally innovative systems integration and support programs. Yes, I am bullish about the year ahead. Very much so!