Now I KNOW That Business is Good

Biz forecast_450x300I don’t take it personally. Really, I don’t. A few weeks ago I blogged about the latest InfoComm Economic Snapshot Survey and how it indicated that AV companies were optimistic about the future. It’s frankly one of the most optimistic Snapshots our researchers have put out in recent years. Were you skeptical? The topic too rah-rah? Because readers didn’t exactly drink it in. (What were you guys drinking in? Lots of interest–deservedly–in Jennifer Davis’ entry on DisplayPort and Ray Kent’s on sustainability.)

It’s okay (but if you want another shot at the Snapshot Survey blog, it’s here).

I figure you don’t want to take InfoComm’s word for the fact that after years of struggle, business is picking up. Maybe it’s not up for you. Or maybe you’re in one of the markets, like government, where, frankly, business is still tough. So what other indicators can I come up with?

Funny I should ask. The other day I got a message from Frank Coker, CEO of Corelytics. He said, “We are seeing the beginnings of an important AV market shift. Sales have hit an important threshold as of the last few weeks that points to a new trend and future forecast.” Frank based his comment on real numbers from pro AV firms. I can’t emphasize that italicized part enough. His analysis of a market shift is based on actual financial data from pro AV companies.

You see, Frank’s company offers its Corelytics Financial Dashboard software to InfoComm members for half price. So yes, he’s got a dog in this hunt. But even if no other AV company ever signed up to use the software, he could still say with confidence that, for instance, gross margins were up almost 20 percent over the last six months, which Frank considers the most telling sign that business is really picking up. “The benchmarks show that the AV industry hit a soft spot early in the year but has begun to show strength in the second quarter,” Frank told me later. “Sales are up modestly, but profits are up significantly. That’s a good sign; it shows that businesses are fine-tuning.

“Payroll is also on the rise,” he said. “It’s growing at a faster pace than revenue. This is usually an early indicator of growth to come. It suggests that owners have bullish expectations for the months ahead.”

Again, that’s based on actual results from AV companies using the Financial Dashboard, which aggregates the data (anonymously) to help spot trends. Corelytics takes this aggregated data and creates for the industry an index, highlighting trends in sales, cash balances, the aforementioned gross margins, and payroll. Based on an analysis of sales, the index reports: The emerging trend upwards seems to be tied to increasing business confidence and small but real increases in spending.

“It is also important to note that cash balances are very strong for most pro-AV companies,” Frank told me. “A strong cash position combined with an up-trending market is the perfect combination for investment and expansion.”

So don’t take my word for it that business is getting better. Heck, you may already know it anyway. But take the word of your competitors, who’ve reported results and informed the brand-new AV Industry Index. Read it here and let us know what you think.

About Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes is the Director of Communications for InfoComm International and the former editor of Pro AV magazine. He has been writing about technology for more than 25 years.

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