A look at the trends that will move the industry forward into 2019.

A deal is a deal. I promised to re-visit last year’s post CEDIA wrap up to see how we did against predictions as well as look ahead to 2019. Let’s jump in!

I’m going to miss San Diego. Don’t get me wrong — I love Denver — but this year’s conference ushered in a larger show (run for the first time in its new Emerald Expositions format). The buzz was solid (and the scooter accidents plentiful!). Many folks complimented the layout and, for the first time, the overall size of the show felt like a mini CES to me. Here’s a brief look at last year’s predictions and a new forecast for 2019:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) — True to form, AI started to show its face a little bit this year. For the first time, companies like Josh.ai started showing suggested scenes or automating activities based on user behavior. This is huge, and 2019 should see more improvements for integrators and consumers alike. Video surveillance is another category where AI seems to be charging hard. ELAN’s new surveillance line touts smart object identification with its smart cameras (the ability to distinguish between ravens and writing desks) and the ability to program events around them. This approach is very similar to existing players Visualint, but the tie in to a specific control system makes the category more approachable.
  2. Voice — Voice got better in 2018. We’re still not supporting it to the point where we can warranty our work, but we’re certainly in a much better place today than we were last year. 2019 will bring us still better voice control and the ability of voice assistants to start profiling us individually based on speech patterns. Imagine automatically having an explicit language filter for your children or denying voice purchasing based on who makes the request. It’s also nice to see some logical developments such as the ability to specify default services other than the platform brand (like having Spotify as your default in the Echo vs. having to subscribe to Amazon Prime Music).
  3. The Front Door — 2018 finally saw Control4 and others achieve ubiquity across all their user experiences (except Control4’s inability to use tablets to answer the door). Let’s move on from the front door in 2019! Watch for more facial recognition, surveillance use cases, and smart object recognition on the porch. Ring is now offering a neighbor-to-neighbor feature that allows the sharing of suspicious videos. We still have a long way to go figuring out the best way to sort out who’s at the front door and how to best let them in. Watch for 2019 to put that to bed once and for all.
  4. Our Homes Begin to Hear, Speak, and See — Can you believe it’s only been a year and we can now safely say most people we know have an Echo or Google Home product in one or more rooms in their home? 2019 will see more focus around more meaningful experiences based on who you are, where you are, and when you are.
  5. Lighting and Shading — Many integrators took the leap into lighting into 2018 (including my own company with our new Lighting & Shading Design Center and Coastal Source outdoor lighting system). Lutron introduced its Ketra lighting product at CEDIA, which is a pretty mind-blowing ecosystem of LED lighting capable of producing any hue or color temperature you can imagine. They join companies like Colorbeam and Philips already charging hard at this space. Watch for 2019 to give us a few solid programs that allow integrators to start effectively designing and installing end-to-end lighting and shading systems.
  6. Amazon — This one puzzles me. Amazon came charging hard at CEDIA 2017 with a flurry of promises around building CEDIA installer community. This year they didn’t even have a booth. As for the Amazon Home Services initiative, Livewire (my integration business) signed up, but we only seemed to get a few $100 TV hang projects thrown our way. On top that, I’m hearing a lot of buzz around production home oriented integrators losing business to Amazon on the heels of their announced programs with Lennar and other national builders. I’m also hearing those same folks say that the Amazon approach is leaving a gap where integrators are having to respond reactively and are now contending with taking over jobs that lack the infrastructure to function properly. Are you seeing any of this in your company?
  7. Remote Managed Services — We saw 2018 give us more choices for 24/7 remote support. Parasol launched in January (I’m a co-founder) and signed on with ProSource, while incumbent OneVision kicked off a national tour in the Spring. We bid farewell to Krika Concierge and saw industry outsider Axius begin to market more aggressively to the integrator community. Watch for manufacturers to begin embracing remote management features in 2019 due to integrator demand. CEDIA 2018 saw products like SnapAV’s new Media over IP, which enabled integrators to grab a screenshot of what’s being displayed (or not) on a client TV. Features like this should deliver a better picture of what’s going on in your projects and drive value for subscribers.

New Predictions For 2019:

  1. Business Software Grows Up — If your operation isn’t running an end-to-end platform such as iPoint, ProjX360, or D-Tools, watch for more cloud solutions that promise to help you subscribe your way into profitability. We’ve watched this category for years, and there seems to be enough momentum now to allow a front-runner to emerge. There still doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution yet, but I’m going to send good mojo to 2019 for all of us.
  2. Commercial and Residential Converge — If you’re not thinking about commercial jobs in your integration business, think again. It’s a market that isn’t going DIY anytime soon and your commitment to service and design puts you head and shoulders above the current slate of commercial integrators.
  3. Cord Cutting Gets a Clue — Players such as DISH are making Over The Top (OTT) content offerings a reality now with the availability of solutions such as AirTV. Watch 2019 deliver a new simple solution that clients will be asking about. Stay tuned for more.

Looks like I didn’t do too badly on my 2018 predictions and wasn’t caught off guard with anything out of left field. Will I do as well in 2019? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. What do you think the year ahead will bring? Post YOUR predictions in the comments.

Stay frosty and see you in the field.

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