Connected by Custom
We’re all connected.
That ad slogan was born from the telephone business back when there was no such thing as a wire-free communication device except on “Star Trek”—not one that worked for real, anyhow.
Never before has it been truer than today. These are times when a chill felt in New York can cause a near-instantaneous shudder in Rio, and vice versa, as worldwide oscillations in the stability of stock markets, financial institutions and mega-businesses like the auto industry have proven.
As we enter 2009, is the custom discipline in other areas taking the same hits as U.S. integrators and retail/custom hybrids? And what strategies are being plotted in the near and far corners of the world for what may come in the weeks and months ahead?
When Jane Scotland, director of the London-located custom house Beyond the Invisible and marketing chair for CEDIA’s Region 1 board of directors, visited Denver in September for CEDIA EXPO, what she heard from the American integrators about business sounded similar to what she heard in meetings with them at the January 2008 CES.
“People were expecting things to get difficult, but it was all pretty academic. They were saying high-end work was great and business was still coming in. Things really changed after we got back from that trip,” she says.
“In the U.K., people have been talking about the credit crunch since January, but there’s been no sign of it until very recently,” says Scotland. “We can probably pinpoint it to when Lehman went down in mid-September.
“Jobless figures started going up, and it began to start to feel real. There’s a lot of wait-and-see out there, and people aren’t really sure what’s happening, but they know it’s probably not going to be good. While the U.S. has been seeing it for longer, we haven’t, but it’s really kicking in now.”