Audiovisual has always been IT's awkward step-sibling, with numerous tech resellers trying - and failing - to crack the adjacent world of videowalls, projectors and digital signage down the years.
But with signs that true convergence between the AV and IT worlds could be finally around the corner, it's also a market that the mainstream channel should certainly have on its watchlist.
CRN Essential's newly launched full report profiles the UK's 20 largest specialist audiovisual integrators, which recorded collective sales of close to £400m in their latest annual accounts, employing over 2,200 staff between them.
At 3.4 per cent, adjusted average operating profit margins among the UK's top 20 AV providers is fractionally lower than the average among CRN's Top 250 VARs, but rose on an annual comparison. AV integrators also employ 2.2 times more staff than the wider Top 250 resellers per £1 of revenue, according to the report, which is the third of five sector-specific mini-reports available to subscribers of CRN Essential (the other two being cybersecurity and print).
"AV is so much harder than the IT guys think. They've all tried it and had their fingers burned," said John Masters, a director at AVMI (pictured), which is the UK's largest specialist AV integrator, with revenues last year of £56.5m.
"In AV there is no global end-to-end vendor, so you can't just go to Cisco for an end-to-end solution, create an SKU and sell thousands of them, which is what [IT resellers'] business is about. In AV, every single room requires localised design work."
Colin Etchells, group technical director at the UK's fourth largest AV specialist Saville AV, added: "[IT and AV] technologies are being driven together and certainly in the next 10 years will be more aligned than ever before.
"It's not only AV equipment [going onto the network]. The next big step will be building control and lighting, and generally there will be convergence. The question will be, who is best placed to deal with that convergence?"
The full report, which profiles the top 20 players and examines the key trends impacting the market, is available exclusively to subscribers of CRN Essential. For more information on CRN Essential, or how to subscribe, click here and here.
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