As 2016 winds to a close, value-added resellers (VARs), manufacturers and customers alike are starting to look ahead to the new year. Pro AV is one of those markets that continually evolves, and the next 12 to 18 months will certainly continue that trend.
To help you prepare for 2017, we’re covering some of the key news and trends to be on the lookout for:
Improved user experience
Not long ago, pro AV technology was more of a luxury than a necessity. Today, it’s a must-have solution in many verticals, which is why there is a growing focus on the user experience. More and more customers are demanding a user experience that is simple and welcoming, much like what consumer technology offers.
As a result, expect to see digital signage, collaboration technology, conference-room systems and more that are easier to use than ever before, with interfaces, apps and other features that are very clearly inspired by smartphone and tablet technologies. In fact, in many AV installations, these consumer products will actually be a part of the overall system.
Greater AV and IT integration
Manufacturers are already developing AV solutions that are tightly integrated with IT systems, but in 2017, that trend should only accelerate. Look for platforms that are IT-enabled to allow for remote management, monitoring and even upgrades. And in the meantime, take the opportunity to work on expanding your IT knowledge so that you’re ready for the growing shift toward networked devices.
Faster adoption of software as a service (SaaS)
As pro AV becomes increasingly IT-friendly, it’s only natural that customers are going to demand more flexible software choices. It’s no wonder that SaaS is already growing in popularity. In many cases, it provides customers with the opportunity to simplify management of, for example, video wall software while also saving money over purchasing the software outright.
Greater acceptance of 4K displays
Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of excitement over the potential of ultra-HD displays, but not many customers have been rushing to install them. Of course, price is one obstacle; the technology hasn’t been around long enough to hit the mainstream in terms of affordability. But there has also been a lack of native 4K content available. Why invest in a 4K screen if it means your content choices are severely limited?
However, over the next year or so, 4K displays should begin gaining ground, both as their prices begin to fall and as the amount of native 4K content grows. Emerging digital display interfaces, such as HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort, are now beginning to support 4K, and customers are enjoying greater content selection, which allows them to make the most of their ultra-HD screens.
Evolving VAR roles
In many markets, the very role that you play as a VAR may begin to shift in 2017. Many resellers are seeing more of a demand for high-value services, in addition to AV products and installation. These might include technical training, sales support and even content creation for digital signage customers.
While this shift may initially create some challenges for your business, in the end, it will likely be a great development. Not only will you have the opportunity to diversify your business, but you’ll also create “stickier” customers by offering a wider range of products and services.
As you can see, in an industry as dynamic as pro AV, there’s always something new around the corner. Be on the lookout for these trends to start impacting your own local market in 2017 and beyond.