July Cover of Sound and Communications
Sound & Communications released its annual survey of the AV integration industry — and the news is looking good. (We knew that from the way our phone is ringing off the hook, but it’s nice to see that, industry-wide, AV sales are healthy.)

What does this mean to you, the end-users of the audio video technology JD Systems recommends, designs and installs?

S&C Editor David Silverman sums it up well: “AV has become integral to the infrastructure of our society: We are an essential element of the communications backbone that runs through every building being designed or refurbished. There is no longer a question of ‘if’ when it comes to inclusion of AV systems in a building; it’s only ‘how much.'”

This reliance on technology is exemplified by the number (more than 40%) of integrators who said their business is up by more than 5% since last year. Again, this is a greater percentage than last year, but not as many as in 2007 or 2008.

What does this mean for those who make the technology buying decisions? Whether it’s new construction or retrofits, there’s a good chance your competitors are getting new, better, more exciting audio visual systems in their space. No pressure here. Just sayin’.

Jobs Up, Turnaround Times Down

Among AV integrators who completed the survey, the number of smaller integration jobs (under $5,000) is higher than ever before. Audiovisual jobs greater than $1 million are also up from last year, but have not reached the five-year high seen in 2008.

As a side effect of more, smaller jobs, turnaround times are faster than ever before. More than 25% of all jobs by the integrators surveyed took less than two weeks, with the majority taking three to five weeks.

This is something to keep in mind when you shop for an audiovisual integrator. Of course, you don’t want someone who will rush your job so they can move on to the next project, but you want someone who will meet your deadlines — especially when they coincide with an important event like the World Series or NFL Opening Day.

Pondering Do-It-Yourself Trends

While the survey doesn’t explicitly explore this possibility, this trend of smaller jobs may also mean that end users are choosing a do-it-yourself or hybrid approach to audio visual systems integration.
They might choose to hire an audio visual consultant or a design firm, and then shop around for the lowest prices on the specified equipment and have their own staff, or maybe the lowest bidder, install the systems.

We’ll be the first ones to tell you that the design work, the programming, and the fine-tuning is the hard part (although it does take some time and effort to shop around for good deals on audio visual equipment, too.) We won’t go so far as to say anyone can hang a plasma screen or a speaker correctly and (most importantly!) safely, but it’s also not rocket science (or even Crestron programming, for that matter!) If you need to supply the labor to get your facility, sports bar, nightclub, restaurant or retail store up to speed with today’s technology, many integrators today, including JD Systems, will work with you on that.

Our Supply Chain Partners

AV integrators answered the question: “What could manufacturers do to help your business?”

In short, we want our supply chain partners, manufacturers and, to some extent, distributors, help us serve you (our customers) better.

Some of the responses were:

  • Easier interface, less wire
  • Accurate product ship dates
  • Try to keep manufacturing in the U.S. for quicker production response/delivery time
  • And a host of answers related to enabling smaller integrators to get similar pricing for equipment as larger firms

In essence, we’re asking manufacturers to help us help our customers with lower prices, faster service, and easier interfaces, which will reduce installation time and costs. That sounds good to everyone, doesn’t it?

For more survey information and analysis, read the July issue of Sound & Communications online.