When economic times are tough, owners of small businesses—like ESC companies—have very little margin for error when making business decisions. The more savvy owners look to market research data to help them make more informed decisions, according to CEDIA’s market research manager, Erica Shonkwiler.
“We used to get calls all the time by the media and investors asking about the size of our industry,” she explained, “but in recent years it’s been our members calling to say, ‘We need more help here’—not just benchmarking, but also about emerging technology opportunities to sustain them through this tough time.”
Those calls inspired the CEDIA board to expand its market research program to include more surveys and reports in 2013, along with accompanying white papers from its technology department. The association’s annual Size and Scope of the Residential Electronic Systems Market in the US study also will be expanded to include Canada for the first time.
CEDIA is splitting its benchmarking survey and report into two, separating finance, operations, and marketing questions from staffing, benefits, and compensation, and covering each more thoroughly.
Later in the year, CEDIA will tackle a consumer study to find out what technology products consumers already own, what they want in their homes, what their understanding level is of the different technologies currently available, who they want to see installing those technologies in their home, and what installer certifications and credentials mean to them.
Two other 2013 studies will be collaborative efforts between the CEDIA research team and its Dave Pedigo-led technology department. Those projects will identify and analyze emerging technologies and how to address them as an ESC.
Until this year, the full results of CEDIA’s benchmarking research project were only available to those who filled out the survey. A much less detailed version was available for sale, and the industry at large was offered only a thumbnail sketch of the results via a press release. In 2012, CEDIA made the benefit that goes back to the participant much greater, with a customized report and action steps for implementing changes to their businesses. Also in 2012 those CEDIA members companies with at least one CEDIA-certified member on staff were given access to “a subset” of the data.
“The responses we’ve gotten from our members with a certified staff member have been enormous,” Shonkwiler said. “They’re so pleased with what they’ve seen that now they want to participate in the research next year and get even more benefits.”