SCN: What technology and/or verticals were most successful in 2014?
Stephen Kohler: In the technology realm, we have observed a tremendous amount of increased focus and continued momentum around digital technology in various forms. We see this trend particularly in relation to our portfolio as it relates to wireless and the desire for digital RF solutions. A strong example of this technology in our current product portfolio is the Microflex Wireless Microphone System, which is a digital DECT based system. We have seen an increased demand for digital software, both for the purposes of networking and audio control. As an example, we launched an iOS app, ShurePlus Channels, which allows users to monitor and control their wireless using a mobile device. We also have a number of Dante enabled products to that same end. From a vertical market perspective, we saw a tremendous amount of success in the realm of corporate installations, specifically in meeting and presentation room environments. This was reflected to us with the success of our products like the Microflex and ULXD Wireless Systems.
What customer or end-user demand surprised you the most and why?
SK: In keeping with the trends of our successes in terms of technology and vertical growth, we saw a lot of increased demand for board room technologies in particular. Companies are investing more and more in communication technologies such as teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and IT conferencing. That increased demand didn’t necessarily shock us, but we were pleasantly surprised by the rate of the growth we saw in those verticals. Specifically, we have seen more excitement and demand around the wireless boundary and gooseneck configurations in our portfolio. I think the exciting thing is that this growth indicates a recovery of the economy; its showing continued investment in infrastructure and that’s a very pleasant development.
Which vertical markets are on the rise and which do you see declining?
SK: We haven’t seen too many declines. Fortunately, Shure is in a number of segments where we’ve seen an increase in momentum and sales. We’re seeing probably the biggest growth overall in AV e-conferencing and integration. Specifically, the growth is in corporations but also in applications such as governmental meeting spaces, educational spaces, houses of worship, and similar types of environments. That’s probably where we’re seeing the biggest uptick which is great. We’re excited to see that growth.