It could be a new cough syrup, or a new soft roader. It could even be the answer to a Harry Potter trivia question. Instead it’s the new branding of our AV association. AVIXA — standing for Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association — is InfoComm International’s new direction.
AVIXA is the answer to a question that perhaps not many people were publicly asking. Few could blame InfoComm for maintaining a ‘steady as she goes’ approach to its strategic direction. It’s presiding over a bunch of shows worldwide that are going gangbusters and, with the mountains of cash they generate, is able to provide some excellent education as well as work on industry standards and maintain a bunch of well-regarded committees. In other words, the association is in rude health.
Rather, the AVIXA pivot recognises the fact the industry has changed radically in a short time. Chiefly the commoditisation and IT-ification of AV is laying waste to the traditional AV integration business model, namely the reselling of expensive proprietary boxes.
As AVIXA CEO Dave Labuskes pointed out in his ‘big reveal’ address to the press in Fairfax, VA, today; it wasn’t so long ago that Kodak was the InfoComm show’s biggest exhibitor. The inference being: disruption is inevitable, history will judge us by how we respond.
So what is this new compass bearing (execs are all at pains to reinforce that AVIXA is way more than a paint job or a reason to freshen the letterheads and staff polo shirts)? It’s a new direction that’s been intimated for some time. It’s end user focussed. It’s end result focussed. It’s all about Exceptional Experiences.
In essence, AVIXA will focus new resources and staffing on ‘growing’ the ‘AV pie’ by bringing content producers (and other non-traditional players) into the AV tent and communicating to end users the many benefits of Exceptional Experiences.
The truth is, AVIXA is well on its way. Some 41% of visitors to this year’s InfoComm show in Orlando were ‘end users’, which could be anyone from CIOs, to facility managers or architects. But the new direction will be more intentional, with AVIXA actively going to where the end users are rather than waiting for, say, architects or retail designers to care about AV.
What will the commercial AV sector think of its association having its head turned — concentrating its focus to that which is outside rather than circling the wagons, as it were? AVIXA is quick to point out the pivot is a case of ‘and’ rather than ‘instead of’, meaning the education programs remain and, indeed, the InfoComm shows remain (too much ‘brand equity’ there for them to be rebranded AVIXA shows, we’re told).
AVIXA recognises that with great change inevitably comes a certain amount of carping and dissatisfaction among a portion of its stakeholders. Perhaps the most obvious group that will see this as a big, fat waste of old letterhead will be some AV system integrators who aren’t able to retool to meet the challenges of falling margins.
When I put this to AVIXA board member Julian Phillips (whose day job is Executive Vice President of Whitlock) he made this point: “A more informed end user results in a better project with a larger scope. Gone are the days where system integrators can hide behind the supply of a black box solution; the consumer is now very often more informed than the supplier. You can either be intimidated by that or embrace that; and work with your client to create those exceptional experiences. AV integrators need to adapt and respond to their clients regarding the sort of results they want to achieve and grasp new opportunities.”
ACT OF DEFIANCE
The AVIXA announcement is at once defiant and visionary. ‘Defiant’ in its resolve to be unashamedly about AV and not capitulating in the unequal arm wrestle with IT. It’s ‘visionary’ insofar as its recognition of new horizons for AV far beyond stodgy notions of blokes with crimpers.
But announcements are just that. AVIXA’s success will be measured in how successfully it brings newcomers into the AV fold without burning too many of its old guard through apparently neglect.
As I head to an InfoComm/AVIXA reception of committee members who themselves have only just heard the big news, I expect I’ll hear plenty of cheering along with the odd grumble. To the grumblers AVIXA is implicitly saying: ‘we can’t insulate you from the pain of change any more than we could insulate Kodak from change. But we can influence the users of AV to demand more of their AV systems and, as a result, raise the profile and importance of AV in creating Exceptional Experiences. We are doing this to help preserve the growth and profitability of the AV business. The rest is up to you.’
READ THE FULL AVIXA PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
InfoComm International, the trade association representing the $178 billion commercial audiovisual industry worldwide, has changed its name to the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). The change reflects AVIXA’s broadening mission to be an industry hub, while also acting as a catalyst for market growth beyond what has been considered traditionally as professional AV.
AVIXA’s trade shows worldwide, including the North America show, June 2-8 in Las Vegas, will continue to operate under the InfoComm name.
“This is an exciting time for our industry and for the advancement of audiovisual solutions across a wide range of customer experiences,” said David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD, Executive Director and CEO of AVIXA. “Thanks to the innovative, creative efforts of so many members, partners, and their customers, we have collectively grown far beyond what InfoComm International could do to promote AV around the world. AV experiences have become so ubiquitous, and they’ve come to include so many more technologies, and touch so many more personal and professional lives, that we felt compelled to embrace a new identity that more accurately reflects this industry’s excitement and welcomes a far more diverse community of professionals.”
In recent years, AVIXA’s members have evolved to offer much more than audiovisual products and systems. Their innovation and attention to customer requirements has led to an industry of solution providers that use audiovisual technology to create outcomes. AVIXA membership has grown to include experiential designers, content creators, IT companies, and users of AV solutions across a growing cross section of markets. AVIXA’s 2017 InfoComm show in Orlando last June attracted a greater share of AV customers than in any other year.
By adopting the name AVIXA, the industry association, which operates as a trade organisation representing companies and a professional society representing individuals, aims to reflect both what its members do (AV) and what they create for customers, which are integrated experiences (IX).
“The AVIXA Board of Directors has set out an ambitious plan to grow the association, increase awareness of AV experiences, and reinvent our brand in order to propel this industry into the future,” said Gary Hall, CTS-D, CTS-I, President of the AVIXA Board, and Federal Strategy, Planning and Operations Leader at Cisco Systems. “With new and different people and technologies coming into this space, we are thrilled that AVIXA will be home to all of them.”
AVIXA was founded in 1939 as the National Association of Visual Education Dealers. In 1949, NAVED merged with the Allied Non-Theatrical Film Association to form the National Audio-Visual Association. NAVA changed its name to the International Communications Industries Association in 1983, which became InfoComm International in 2005.
“Organisations evolve,” said Labuskes. “AVIXA’s core programs remains the same—training, certification, standards, community, market intelligence, tradeshows—but the industry has changed in exciting ways, and the opportunity to grow the market for audiovisual experience is so vast, it was important that the AV industry’s leading association change with it.”