By Blake Augsburger, CEO of LEA Professional

2020 presented every business around the world with challenges that leaders had never encountered before. The AV industry was no different. We were challenged to be agile and resilient and to come up with new programs to sustain our partners and support our customers. Some integrators — many of whom we work with — cleverly leveraged cloud technology to effectively position themselves to address the challenges of 2020.

Capitalizing on proven, robust, reliable cloud technology from global leaders like Amazon Web Services and AV brands like LEA allowed these integrators to navigate the ever-changing circumstances of work-from home, social distancing and health protocols and ensure continued support to customers and partners. Cloud technology enables systems integrators to remotely configure, monitor and manage systems from the office versus rolling in a truck. This advances operational effectiveness, labour efficiency and customer service. It’s also highly appreciated by customers in corporate education and transportation environments where buildings are beginning to open up but also where health protocols are still very much in place.

Integrators appreciate how cloud technology facilitates new business models — specifically, service agreements have been shown to work well in the IT and security markets and provide the integrator with monthly recurring revenue (MRR). While integrators realize the benefits of predictable revenue streams, customers within the business, education, worship and hospitality markets realize gains in system performance, uptime and cost of ownership.

Working with the cloud meant global teams did not miss a beat in being able to demonstrate product and service capabilities. I feel the pain of loudspeaker manufacturers who are tethered to the requirement of in-person listening, but with the cloud, you are able to comprehensively demonstrate the connectivity and performance of offerings despite lockdowns. The advantages of remote connectivity really crystallized in the minds of systems integrators and end-users over the course of 2020 and I feel we have passed an inflection point where cloud has gone from nice-to-have in 2019 to must-have in 2021!

The advantage of utilizing cloud innovation resonates strongly with customers in Asia- and we have seen especially strong growth in transportation where infrastructure spending continues; in courtrooms where video hearings required high-performance audio; in education where distance learning and hybrid learning became the new normal and we’re even seeing an up-tick in retail and restaurant where customers are taking the downtime to invest in improvements and prepare for a resurgent 2021!

For the Asia market, the embrace of cloud technology was felt from early on. Using the cloud, a systems integrator we work with in Singapore could easily adjust amplifier settings of a Connect Series amp in another part of the island without making the trip, and they charge for this service! The Asia market recognized the flexibility, innovation and consistency this provided their business and were forward-thinking in their adaptation.

Asia appears to be ahead in the recovery and I am confident that latent demand will lead to strong growth of entertainment and communications technologies being deployed to facilitate the new normal. That means new meeting room systems and conferencing technologies in the corporate market; new background music systems for retail and hospitality; new distance learning systems for education and new audio systems for courts and government agencies. All of these environments need high-performing, hyper-connected audio systems to deliver an experience but they require preparedness for remote should the need arise again. This is a strong argument for cloud-connected AV and something the Asia-market systems integrators and customers will seek to address.