It’s All Different and Yet the Same
Many of us at the beginning of each New Year stand back and review what was, where we are and where we’re headed. A year ago this column focused upon the growing emphasis and importance of the Internet of Things (IoT). At CEDIA this past fall, we saw the entrance of Amazon Echo to the show floor and presentations, while this year’s CES hosted a complete section of new vendors providing their version of IoT products. By expanding our review to that of a decade or more, we see profound evidence of change. Yet, how we address this change and our next steps is very similar to what we already know.
A key impetus behind the creation and growth of CEDIA over the past twenty-five years was for the creation of technology integration as a profession; with, training, peer review and education efforts as integral. Recalling also was the second and critical-to-success component of CEDIA’s purpose; that of, enabling the recognition of CEDIA businesses as a legitimate marketing channel. Many who participated in the early stages of this new way and professional path had to purchase key brands for resale from the more established brick and mortar retailers in our industry.
Fifteen years ago, the channels of distribution were rocked further by the reimagining and creation of just-in-time distribution from groups such as AVAD. Now, online just-in-time distribution is a significant component and norm for many business operations.
Revising our view to that of the past ten years, 2006 to 2016, realizing what has occurred with brick and mortar retail is dramatic. Data just obtained from Yahoo Finance indicated the Market Value of most brick and mortar retailers (e.g. Best Buy, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears and Kohl’s) peaked in 2006. The change in market value (not annual income, but in real Market Cap Value) ranged from negative 46-95% in lost value. Meanwhile, during the same period, Amazon rose from $17.5 billion to over $350 billion in Market Value. An increase of over 1900%.
Significant to note is that some of the businesses on the list above are more than one hundred years old. Can any single demographic make this much of a change? Not likely. Could we have imagined this in just ten years? Perhaps, not. However, what is of undeniable importance is seeing and acknowledging what has happened as the first stage for providing the vision and path upon which we need to be headed.
As proof of this, had we not acknowledged earlier shifts and changes twenty-five, fifteen, ten or even five years ago, where would we be? Because of the steps we’ve already taken, we are better enabled and prepared for this new era; that of, implementing home technology and life design throughout all building and remodeling disciplines, within a direct and consultative connection with our customers and clients. This is the new way and … we’re not done, yet.
Key fundamentals and disciplines remain the same and are critical for taking our next steps. For example, building brand equity still remains key to profitability. We’ll let you decide how much of this remains within your company’s brand vs. product branding and franchising. However, your company’s purchasing remains a strategic consideration. The principles of “If everyone can get it, it’s a commodity” and “if few companies can qualify and obtain it, it’s a source of building equity and profitability” remains the same.
Building, learning, teaching, getting and staying committed remains the same for making any vision more focused. Counting on someone else to do it has rarely paid off. Especially now, considering the rate and speed of change remains key. Consider the following example as a key indicator of this within in our own electronics industry. The electronics association which is now called the Consumer Technology Association (as of November 2015) originated (according to Wikipedia) as the Radio Manufacturers Association in 1924, changed its name only three times in the next roughly seventy years. However, in recognition of changes in the market, their name has changed for the third time now in just twenty years.
The encouraging news is that the more we dig into and learn with what we are doing now, the greater the odds of successfully adapting later. For example, this author spent significant time and effort developing markets for home theater; beginning with, projectors and audio systems. What was required in doing well with projectors, required combining RGB colors for producing more life-like images. This applied while converging analog CRT, was repeated for moving into digital (DLP and LCD) and yet again while integrating all of this within a digitally controlled network and sources.
Our previous column advocated that members of the CEDIA community should consider entry into digital lighting through networkable RGB LED systems. What this author has learned is that virtually everything learned in producing better home theater and projected images can be applied towards success in this new field. Knowing and learning what was needed for what brought us here, will serve us well in acquiring new opportunities and capabilities.
So to the extent that we jump in and learn now, will surely make a difference in where we’re going. The profound nature and impact of all the changes should not dissuade the march forward. Learning all that we can now will serve us well moving ahead. Despite all the flurry of change very little really goes away. Solid habits and commitment now will always provide a more successful way ahead.
Andrew Ard is an industry veteran with over 20 years’ experience serving in marketing roles for key CEDIA manufacturers and service organizations. He is also a member of the CEDIA Advisory Board, former CEDIA and IPRO Board Member. Andrew is currently serving as director of marketing and outreach for Dallas Sight and Sound, a founding design-build system integration company and member of CEDIA, specializing in high-performance, easy-to-use systems that have been delighting clients for over 30 years.