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ICIA Announces Growth in Several Vertical Markets

The increased use of several audiovisual (AV) technologies in key market sectors is driving growth in the AV industry, according to the International Communications Industries Association's (ICIA's) 2005 Market Forecast Survey, released at a press briefing in New York on February 11.

More than 75 percent of the audiovisual companies surveyed forecast revenue and profitability increases over the next few years. "This is a high growth industry," said Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., ICIA Executive Director. "Audiovisual communications is everything from videoconferencing and streaming media to plasma displays, digital signage and interactive whiteboards. It's everywhere from the classroom to the boardroom to the living room. There's a real demand for AV professionals to help select, integrate, install and service AV products for optimum performance."

"AV solutions are growing in all markets. The survey findings clearly indicate the upturn of mainstream awareness of AV technologies," said ICIA Board Member Jim Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives, HB Communications, Inc. "We now see AV technology as a necessary component of the home, business, educational facility and healthcare."

Beyond the top markets, such as business, education and government, AV technology is making significant gains in other areas such as retail, sports arenas, museum exhibits, meetings and conventions, healthcare and the worship market. More than 25 percent of the dealers surveyed plan to enter new markets as awareness of AV technology grows.
Both here and abroad, the increasingly sophisticated residential market is growing. Nearly 25 percent of dealers in North America and nearly 30 percent in Europe are involved in residential sales. "It is interesting to see that nearly one-quarter of AV integrators in North America are serving the home market," said Tim Lindstrom, RCDD, Senior Consultant with Pelton Marsh Kinsella and Chair of ICIA's Independent Consultant in AV Technologies (ICAT) Council.

Evidence of the increasing crossover between commercial and residential applications is the launch of a Residential Pavilion at InfoComm 05, the largest tradeshow of the professional audiovisual industry, to be held in Las Vegas this June. Included in the pavilion will be home theater systems, high-definition displays, residential audio, lighting, electronics and security systems, satellite equipment and home automation systems.

Among the most positive trends respondents indicated was the increased use of digital signage, particularly in the retail sector, for delivering a message, selling products or simply providing information. "The market for large information displays is growing at a tremendous rate, as increased competition leads to lower prices, and demand increases from businesses and universities," said Bob O'Donnell, Research VP of Clients, Mobility and Display Technology at market research firm IDC.

Survey respondents noted some growing pains as IT professionals gain the knowledge and technology needed to host AV solutions such as streaming media on their networks. AV/IT convergence is driving the introduction of technologies supporting a number of newer applications including streaming media, webcasting, wireless and software, all relative newcomers in the AV space. Currently these segments have low penetration rates but are expected to grow significantly as products continue to web-enable technologies.

A significant change in the ICIA 2005 survey was the addition of the European marketplace, with European AV dealers included for the first time in the survey this year. Respondents in both North America and Europe are upbeat about the potential for significant growth in the residential market and surges in retail/digital signage, security and healthcare.