That the pro AV and digital signage industry is big and growing bigger is pretty much indisputable. In 2014, the global pro AV market reached $91.8 billion and is expected to grow in 2016 to a whopping $114.2 billion.
Most of that growth comes from the combined North American and Asia-Pacific markets where industrial growth and corporate-enterprise pro AV spending are highest.
Within those global markets, some verticals are growing faster than others, which means value-added resellers (VARs) will need to keep a keen eye on what factors are driving growth.
Here are four pro AV and digital signage verticals for VARs to keep an eye on in 2016:
The retail vertical is by far one of the more robust sectors deploying pro AV and digital signage. According to InfoComm's 2014 Market Definition and Strategy Study, the global pro AV market for the retail sector alone will grow from $5.6 billion in 2014 to $6.9 billion in 2016.
Much of that growth is expected to come from consumers who rely on their mobile devices for on-demand information delivery. That expectation has prompted retailers to become early adopters of pro AV technology that integrates mobile technology as a necessary component of the shopping experience.
Expect marketing strategies that combine digital signage with near field communications (NFC), iBeacons, push notifications, etc. to come into greater use by the retail vertical in 2016.
In an effort to contain spending and deliver more effective and efficient services to patients, the U.S. healthcare vertical boosted spending on pro AV and digital signage from $4.6 billion in 2014 to $5.7 billion in 2016.
Currently, small interactive digital tablets are routinely used to record patient intake information and to store medical history. But there is also growing demand for pro AV in conference rooms, advanced surgical suites, hospital lobbies, and medical teaching facilities.
Telemedicine and teleconsulting also comprise a growing area where pro AV is being used to bring healthcare to rural and elderly populations.
The hospitality vertical was one of the hardest-hit segments of the pro AV industry during the global recession, but there are many indications that the sector is poised for tremendous growth.
The hospitality vertical generated nearly $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2013 in the U.S. alone, with much of that revenue coming from upticks in hotel, travel, and restaurant spending.
The biggest factors driving pro AV and digital signage spending for hotels and restaurants are:
- a global increase in new hotel construction projects to meet customer demand
- pro AV upgrades to hotel meeting and ballrooms due to increased business travel
- hotel guest demand for the latest technology based on home and work usage habit
- demand for digital signage to replace static menu boards in quick-serve restaurants
Much like the retail vertical, expect the hospitality sector to invest in newer pro AV technologies to meet the demand of the always-connected guest.
Education is perhaps one of the more stagnant verticals when it comes to pro AV and digital signage for a couple of reasons:
- The delivery of education has remained largely unchanged for generations.
- Growth has been hampered by restrictions in local, state, and national government spending.
However, current trends are at a crossroads as secondary and higher-ed institutions are under enormous pressure to attract and retain students best equipped to compete in the global economy of the future.
Tech-savvy students born and raised during the digital age will expect their education to be one where the convergence between pro AV and IT is seamless and a given, not a luxury. Expect global economic competition to put pressure on educational institutions to increase pro AV and digital signage spending as they complete the analog-to-digital conversion during the next several years.
For VARs, it's an exciting time to be involved in the pro AV and digital signage industry. Keeping a bird’s-eye view on market trends and challenges will make it even more rewarding.