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Long-Term Success: Where will you be in 2035?

With technology changing constantly, the secret to survival is in recurring service.

GM Electric
GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality.

There are people out there who can tell you with fairly precise accuracy when you’re likely to die. Actuaries do a brisk business with clients from the insurance world but surprisingly few individual customers. Turns out knowing when you’re going to die isn’t high on most people’s to-do lists. What about the business world? The gas-powered car industry now knows exactly when it’s going to die thanks to one of The Big Three automakers. GM just pledged to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. What would you do with your CI business armed with the same information?

Also by Henry Clifford: 10 Ways to Revitalize Your Business

GM’s 2035 announcement not only impacts its own dealers, but the entire combustion engine ecosystem. Every Jiffy Lube, Exxon, Wawa, and Napa Auto Parts store is impacted. They will all have to pivot into supporting electric vehicles. Thanks to GM, they all know exactly when that will need to happen and they all have 14 years to make their moves. Will all those businesses still have a seat at the table in 2035? Probably not. What will gas stations become? What will become of places like Meineke Muffler? I’m sure the same questions were asked about the lamplighters and buggy whip manufacturers. Progress marches on and she can be a cruel mistress. Is knowing about 2035 a blessing or a curse? Are there any parallels for the CI world?

Thankfully custom installation relies upon something that won’t be going away by 2035 — you. Your ability to help clients save time by designing, installing, and servicing simple technology solutions is here to stay. The solutions, however, are changing by the day. Businesses oriented around transactional sales are going to watch their margins shrink, as well as the continual disintermediation of solutions such as complex full home control and video distribution (installed any HDMI matrix switchers lately?). Without a services approach, you won’t be around to see 2025 let alone 2035. What do I mean by services? Think about things people need like monitored security or 24/7 support that can be monetized monthly. That’s what I mean.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

While there are plenty of new entrants into the monitored security world,’s stock price is now trading north of $100 a share. Keep in mind that’s in a world where you can DIY or professionally monitor with solutions like SimpliSafe or Ring. Why? A good many consumers still value professional installation when it comes to life safety. That’s great news for the custom installation world as it’s clear there will always be service-first clients who will happily pay more for something if it comes with better service.

Also by Henry Clifford: What I Learned From A TV Falling Off The Wall

Better service comes in many flavors. disrupted the security industry with better service just as players like Parasol and OneVision [disclaimer: I’m a co-founder of Parasol] are changing the way integrators think of project after care and service. By offering 24/7 remote support, you change your relationship with the customer from reactive to proactive — and monetize it to boot. If you’re not offering some kind of monthly service subscription to your customers, your competitors will soon be — if they aren’t already.

Does CI have its own “2035” moment coming? You bet. The good news is that we all have plenty of time to get ready for it through weaving in a services-first approach into our businesses. The bad news is that 80 percent of the people reading this won’t heed the advice until it’s too late. I’d like to be wrong about that.

What are you doing to get ready?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.