As quickly as the pandemic has spread around the world - impacting countries, states and localities almost daily and in new and unexpected ways - so too has the audiovisual integration industry begun to feel its effects quickly. Many of the professionals surveyed indicate that they continue to try to accelerate certain projects while they can, but as governments announce more stringent measures, such efforts are under great pressure.
"Access to client facilities is the biggest challenge, as this affects our ability to complete work and keep employees employed," said one of the AV providers surveyed.
In a second weekly survey conducted among members of the AVIXA AV Intelligence Panel, between March 23rd and 24th, 85% of AV providers and 83% of AV end users stated that their companies have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, virtually the same results as in the first survey.
Another AV entrepreneur described the situation: "One bright spot: business has increased in terms of assisting customers with data connectivity, security, growth in cloud licensing and providing technology to meet the needs of working from home. The downside: projects are being put on hold, so we've seen a significant reduction in help-desk calls, project management work and implementations.
Revenue under pressure
In particular, the proportion of AV solution providers citing declining revenue (up to 58%, compared to 45%) and slowing sales (up to 64%, compared to 54%) as negative effects has increased since the first survey last week.
According to the live event professionals, who represent a very limited sample, as only 18 responded to the survey, each said their companies' businesses were negatively affected, with 15 of the 18 describing the result as a "large negative impact. The AVIXA Market Intelligence team will continue to track individual responses from live event professionals and invites other community members to join the survey panel.
What has changed quickly, in just one week, is the perception of the respondents about the decline in revenue in their companies. In our first survey, when asked how much their income had decreased in the previous two weeks, most indicated that they simply did not know. This week, they are starting to get a clearer picture: 23 percent of AV providers and 36 percent of end users said their revenue had declined by more than 50 percent in the previous two weeks, which was the most common response. In conjunction with other possible responses, 45 percent of AV providers report a decline in revenue of 11 to 50 percent, and 28 percent of end users estimate the decline in revenue in the same range.
Of the 18 live event professionals who responded, 11 reported a decrease in revenue of more than 50% in the previous two weeks. According to one of them, "live events have had the greatest negative impact at present, with almost all events and shows cancelled or rescheduled.
Looking at workforce reductions
In assessing the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the AVIXA Market Intelligence group introduced a question option on "Reduction of personnel/layoffs". While "cancellation of face-to-face meetings/training events" remains the most frequently cited impact among vendors and end-users (with 79% and 93% of respondents, respectively, saying they felt the effect on their companies, plus 17 of 18 respondents from the live event industry), 30% of AV vendors, 27% of end-users and 12 of 18 live event professionals mentioned that their companies had already begun staff reduction/ layoffs in the past two weeks.
One AV solution provider noted, "We have cut all but two people from our workforce. There is some customer work we are trying to manage. It's very difficult to give a leave of absence to all staff and then try to do their job and keep in touch with all their customers.
Several of the respondents told stories about how they adjust their employees' performance, as more authorities take steps to promote social distancing:
"As of today, we have people who can work from home instead of coming to the office," said one AV provider. "Technicians will go directly to the workplace unless they need to look for specific components or parts in the office. We schedule who will be in the office to receive and deliver morning courier shipments. We're also canceling all out-of-town jobs, so our technicians don't need to stay in hotels or look for open restaurants with home delivery service. This week we are waiting for our governor's order to declare "state shutdown", when that time comes, we have already informed our staff that we will pay their full salary for two weeks and after that time we will pay 2/3 of it to comply with federal regulations.
According to another respondent, "With an upcoming announcement of full isolation today, we would be postponing work on non-essential facilities. We only provide critical IT and systems services. We are taking this time to do remote training so that our staff is ready and able to keep up with the pace when it is time to get back into action once the insulation measures are lifted.
A global pandemic affecting a global industry
This latest Weekly Impact Survey also seeks to find out the responses from AV providers and end users around the world. As expected, respondents outside of North America report a very similar impact on their business as their North American counterparts. However, early indications are that perceptions of the impact on the business itself (revenue, sales, supply chain disruptions) are higher internationally than in North America.
Of all international respondents (VA providers and end users combined), 68 percent said they perceived a decline in revenue affecting their business (compared to 47 percent of North American providers and end users); 72 percent cited the slowdown in sales (compared to 43 percent in North America); and 49 percent noted the negative impact of supply chain disruptions (compared to 31 percent in North America).