By Ann Brigida, CTS, CSTd
Amidst the abrupt changes that have been brought on by a global pandemic, discussions and speculation about the future have become a global occurrence. Like many other business sectors, the AV industry is feeling the effects of already-contracted projects being put on hold or being cancelled. And like many others, cash flow is an issue and assistance coming from governments is key to survival in many cases.
Globally, AVIXA® members are sharing their commitment to retain staff. They are taking advantage of this time to foster professional development opportunities. They’re finding ways to work around the supply chain issues that have been plaguing them since the pandemic began. They are looking for ways to make positive change despite the challenges that have been presented to them.
Without question, the AV business sector that has felt the most disruption because of the current situation is the live events community. The advent of social distancing has wreaked havoc on the entire value chain, and it remains to be seen how long or how permanent the effects will be. Members of the community are doing their best to chart a path toward recovery. What that looks like remains to be seen.
Recently, AVIXA APAC hosted its first virtual roundtable to give its members from every business sector a chance to share their experiences and ideas. The get together was welcomed by the members, with participation of more than 85 leaders from Australia, Japan, Singapore, India, and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).
Some common themes, both positive and challenging, emerged as a result of their small-group discussions:
- Live events, rental/large venues, retail, and tourism sectors have suffered significantly, and it is expected that they will take a long time to recover. Consequently, the sale of AV technologies to those affected vertical markets has stopped.
- Across the APAC region, the industry has seen increased demand for videoconferencing systems, audio equipment, remote monitoring, virtual meetings, and shared information.
- Demands are becoming more IT-centric, with the need for upgraded internet services, Wi-Fi, and data servers.
- End users are now buying online, as the opportunity for onsite retail shopping has decreased.
- Most businesses have taken advantage of AVIXA’s free online training, which is available through June 12.
While there are many similarities across the continents and with other industries, some challenges within regions have a unique global impact. Most notably, Japan is faced with the effects of the Olympic Games’ postponement. Major facilities already pre-booked for events for the post-Games period were required to now rebook for the 2021 Games and cancel their own events, leading to loss of business revenues for the next 1.5 years. The Games’ postponement also led to budget problems, as production cost and equipment need to be put on hold until 2021. And even at that, the 2021 schedule is still not solidified.
In India, the mood remains cautiously positive. The government has included plans to support small to medium businesses, providing increased opportunities for AV business growth. The country hopes that the supply chain issues will be resolved by the end of May, and for national companies, the Southern states are open and moving again. While the lockdown put a lot of projects on hold, design consultants have continued to operate from home, fielding enquiries from customers about how to redesign their premises for the future. And even in Mumbai, as significantly impacted as it is, being the epicenter of the "Red Zone," there are signs of increased demand for more interactive, virtual technologies for corporate and other business sectors.
What does all of this mean for the AV industry in the APAC region? At the moment it is anyone’s guess, but what appears to be emerging are some future trends: Requests for more flexible AV conferencing solutions to enable virtual/remote collaboration, designs for bigger meeting spaces to meet COVID-19 safety compliance, and AV solutions that enable the digitalization of education seem to top the list.
Jonathan Seller and his team plan to host more roundtables, giving members the opportunity to share their experiences and discuss the plans moving forward. Seller, who is the Senior Director of Development for AVIXA Asia-Pacific, understands that there is strength in numbers, and the APAC roundtables will help AVIXA members to help each other through these unprecedented times.
If you would like more information about the upcoming roundtables, please visit www.avixa.org/events