If you are an avid watcher of the news, it is difficult to avoid the doomsday prophecies. To go by those nightly reports every economy under the global is failing or has failed…bread lines await the entire world. While it is more than evident that money is too tight to mention in many quarters, it will be ill-advised to give into these dark intonations completely.
Here in Amsterdam, where the annual Integrated Systems Europe Show is being held, AV manufacturers and distributors are more hopeful than I have seen in our industry in the last year. In announcing the arrival of Residential Systems International in my last post, I also emphasized the importance of our industry, especially the American faction, looking beyond borders to cast a wider net both for profit and ingenuity. Many U.S.-based manufacturers have done just that and their presence at ISE is heartening.
I ran into RS columnist Buzz Delano early this morning, and in greeting each other it was difficult not to note the appearance of many familiar faces, including CEDIA president Utz Baldwin, CEDIA Chair Ken Erdmann, as well as several popular CI manufacturers, including Russound, Control4, ELAN, Sunfire, Niles Audio, SpeakerCraft, and the list goes on.
Having been to ISE four years ago, when many of these companies were not exhibitors, I can agree with Delano when he observed that the show was beginning to resemble U.S. CEDIA EXPO. The fact that in that time the showfloor has significantly expanded–now sprawled over several halls– is also heartening.
But this evolution of CI manufacturers introducing their products to a much wider market goes beyond pitching for profit. Like I have always said, there are obstacles both economically and politically that companies seeking a broader customer base need to investigate and address. Markets such as Latin America present unique challenges that anyone seeking to play in those areas really need to get to grips with. One manufacturer sales rep who has had much success in the international market brilliantly noted that what flies in America is often not a big deal in other countries; sometimes an American manufacturer’s access to too many tools does not always present the most elegant or simplistic product solutions. He noted he could only have learned that by actively seeking out dealers who were willing to not only sell his products but also share regional mores. That takes patience.
It would be foolish not to acknowledge that, economically speaking, commerce is under going a transformation. It is, however, critical not to let dark reports strangle what is still a very vibrant and lively channel, both at home and abroad. That means charting new courses and it also means re-educating ourselves not just on innovations, but also on what people in more far-flung places like Chile and South Africa, want from those solutions.