Stampede's Big Book of AV tour rolled through New York yesterday, which gave me a chance to catch up with the distributor's ever-insightful president and COO, Kevin Kelly. Sitting in the C-suite of one of the nation's largest distributors gives Kelly an enviable vantage point to chart the trends and health of the industry.
From that perch, one word can summarize Kelly's views on the state of the industry: opportunity.
"I see more opportunity in this industry as a company than we ever have before," Kelly exclaimed. "We've had more product lines join us this first quarter. We see more strategic opportunities to develop sales and growth than ever before. It all hinges on innovation and manufacturers that are bringing out interesting products that need some explanation. And because of that, there's a great opportunity for integration."
Manufacturers, Kelly said, are where the spark for opportunity and innovation happens. If they're bringing out new products, then it gives dealers and integrators something new to bring to existing clients, or presents an opportunity to approach a new client on an increased level of interest.
"Manufacturers are bringing more products out than we've seen since the great recession began," he continued. "There is a bigger investment being made whether it's in 4K, or on the videoconferencing side, whether it's display technology, whether it's the UC area, we're seeing software developments on a codec side which are interesting and getting people attracted to the categories and industries."
The next step for dealers and integrators to gain an understanding of what your strengths are from a customer base perspective, what your strengths are from a technical perspective, and then decide if there are any areas that you could invest in to align those strengths.
"A dealer needs to make a decision about expertise and where they're going to invest within the marketplace," he explained, "because what types of technologies do they ultimately want to work with, and which kinds of jobs do they actually want to do? We do have a movement with regards to the way in which the content is being delivered. Samsung's SMART Platrofm has very powerful potential, but it's going to take an educated integrator to leverage that technology, and an aware end user to recognize some of the benefits or have them explained."
From a category perspective, video walls and large displays continue to be exciting ways for organizations to attract, entice, change opinion, and conform. "Video walls are a phenomenal technology that are only getting better," he said. "The accessories such as mounting systems are only getting better. And the digital signage software and players are only getting better. So phenomenal opportunity there.
"There is interest in 4K. Content is king, and that's why 4K plays really well to the commercial marketplace. The folks who can take advantage of a 4K video wall or ultra HD video wall will also be able to afford the content to run on it. These are big, fascinating surfaces that can be viewed very closely. Adding touch technology will only make it that much more powerful, so it will really become a canvas for that integrator to accomplish some business, communication, and marketing goals, and gives them more tools to do it with. Don't underestimate the impact of 4K in the corporate marketplace."
Stampede also continues to see tremendous interest in the visual communications arena, having just had a record quarter in this category.