Widgets Magazine

A Time of Network Transition

A blog by Clint Hoffman, Kramer Electronics. 
Back in 2008 I wrote a blog entitled, “A Time of Digital Transition.”  The following are three opening paragraphs from that blog:
There is a popular phrase which says, “We live in interesting times.”  It is supposed to be based on an ancient Chinese curse that actually says, “May he live in interesting times.”
Around the world our core markets, no matter how you refer to them, are going through significant changes.  They are going through Digital changes.  In our business at this time, we do in fact live in interesting times.
There are changes in technology.  We are moving more and more rapidly to the digital age.  The vocabulary in our business these days is littered with terms like DVI, FireWire HDCP and HDMI.  Our displays have already all been converted over to digital with technologies like plasma, direct view LCD and projection display systems based on LCD, LCOS and DLP.  It seems to be an “attack of the acronyms” but it’s really just the world we now live in.
In the blog, I went on to suggest “control” was going to become more and more simplified.  I noted that long distance digital signal transmission would be over “category” cable.  I praised the value of the “handshakes” digital signals brought us.  And finally, I pointed out how presentation scaler/switchers would be at the center of most AV systems.
Looking back, except of course for the mixed blessing of digital signal handshaking which brought with it compatibility challenges, this was a fairly accurate account of where the market was headed.  Simplified control did not explode, but it grew.  HDBaseT over category cable became the standard method to send digital signals over long distances.  And, for a number of years, presentations scaler/switchers were in fact at the heart of every important AV system.
Fast forward to the present, nine years later, and it is time for another transition in our market.  This one will be the “Network Transition.”
Now, control is cloud-based and it is as much about data analytics as it is about actual control.  Presentation scaler/switchers have been replaced by wireless presentation and collaboration devices and signal distribution is moving to the IP network with the need for only encoders and decoders and virtual matrix switching software.
Integrators are talking about no longer selling hardware, but instead selling “Managed Services.”  The hardware is a part of that sale, but it is not what is being sold.  The beauty of this is that managed services are reoccurring revenues and they allow a deeper, more personal connection between the integrator and the customer.
And, with this change in the market, new opportunities abound.  Market leading manufacturers are challenged to transition from what they do that makes them leaders, to the things they need to do to lead in the new AV market.  Smaller, nimbler manufacturers who “get it” have opportunities to take the lead in this new market.  Integrators have the opportunity to sell AV into more spaces and to move away from the volatile project based nature of the historic AV business.  And users can get incredible AV “experiences” that are more affordable and don’t require a ton of proprietary dedicated equipment.
Once again, fortunately, “we live in interesting times.”

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