The audiovisual market in the Indian subcontinent is projected to reach an astonishing US$5.4 billion by the end of 2016, according to the AVIXA Market Definition and Strategy Study for India.

AVIXA International® has seen growing participation in the market firsthand, with overwhelming participation at its networking forums, CTS Prep courses, and other seminars in cities across India.

As organisers look forward to another record-breaking InfoComm India trade show in September 2016, industry veteran and AVIXA Board Member Ratnesh Javeri, CTS®-D, CQD, CQT, shares his insights into the latest trends and discusses how the international market can tap into the vast opportunities presented by the AV market in India.  Mr. Javeri is Managing Director of Mumbai-based Innovative Systems & Solutions Pvt. Ltd. He was awarded AVIXA’s Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014.

Ratnesh JaveriQ: The Indian AV market is slowly getting international attention. How do you interpret this trend?

A: We are only at the very beginning of what will be an extended surge. The Indian AV market has been poised for growth for a very long time. We have seen a growth rate of 18.5 percent year over year, and that is just a conservative estimate. We expect this to continue. The market is only scratching the surface of tier 1 and tier 2 cities. The real push comes when the rural market is open as well.

Q: What industry sectors are driving India’s AV growth? Can you break it down for us?

A: Mainly three sectors. Number one is the corporate sector, which is driven by many international software and financial institutions making our big cities like Bangalore their technology hubs. These companies are demanding a world-class office experience in their meeting rooms and huddle spaces, where AV plays a central role.

The second growth area is hospitality. India has always seen a shortage of good-quality guest rooms and other gathering areas. We’re beginning to see more and more hotel and conference center projects breaking ground to meet this demand.

Education is also a key area of AV growth. Most Indian schools are still using blackboards and chalk, but that is changing very quickly. And instead of the gradual technology evolution as seen in the Western world, India is most likely going to skip a few steps in the adoption of digitization.

Q: Can you give us some examples for what the jump might look like?

A: The telecom industry in India provides a good guidepost for predicting technology adoption in education. It’s just like how we skipped the broadband infrastructure development and went straight to wireless mobile adoption. It’s likely that we will leap from blackboards straight to a highly digitized classroom environment centered on BYOD (bring your own device), using students’ mobile devices as the primary learning tool.

AV companies that succeed will be the ones who proactively work with Indian educational institutions and help guide their technology transformation.

Q: What tips can you share with international companies as they position themselves to succeed in India?

A: First, obviously, they have to be here. Take part in AV networking and tradeshow events in India to witness the market opportunities firsthand and meet the clients. AVIXA organises many of these programs.

There are several other lessons that I always share with overseas manufacturers, consultants, and service providers. For example, end users tend to be reluctant to budget for design and install services separately. There is an assumption that these services are bundled with sales. The general practice is to leave very little budget for installation, which leads to mixed results. The acceptance for paid service is changing, but it’s very slow.

Another aspect I share is that Indian customers are generally very tech driven. Even end users make a conscious effort to research and identify the best tech solution for their requirements, instead of sitting back and waiting for a proposal from the vendor. For consultants and manufacturers, what this means is that the best way to develop a relationship with the local AV customers is to provide technical knowledge and win their confidence, instead of just bringing a sales pitch.

I always say this to our international industry colleagues: Invest in customer education, and you’ll be rewarded with business.  

Q: There seems to be a high demand for AV skills training in India.

A: There is, and it’s growing every year. I was the first person in India to be awarded the AVIXA CTS-D certification.  And for many years I was the only CTS-D certified person in the country. And now the numbers are growing quickly with two “doubles” who have joined an elite group of international professionals with both CTS-D and CTS-I certifications. There are at least 150 CTS holders in India, out of more than 10,000 worldwide, and I am confident it will get to 1,000 very soon.

The AV landscape in India is going to change very quickly in the next few years. I am very pleased to see that the next-generation AV professionals are so eager to attend classes and get certified to better prepare themselves for the career opportunities. India is a massive country with more than 1.3 billion people. We need a larger professionally qualified and certified workforce to make sure as the market expands, so that the industry as a whole is able to deliver great AV experiences everywhere for all projects.