Amidst New Zealand’s picturesque landscapes, popularised as the setting of the Lord of the Rings movies, is a hustling and bustling professional AV market. Asnet Technologies has been part of this market sine 1999, starting off as a distributor for Polycom. A change in ownership in 2011 however shifted the focus on innovation partnerships. Over the last three years Asnet Technologies has started to offer a full suite of services and has become a fast growing player in the corporate, banking, government and tertiary education sector.
Eric Greenop, managing director of Asnet Technologies, explains what sets the country apart in Asia Pacific: “New Zealand, whilst a fully developed first world economy, is a small, geographically spread market which presents its own challenges; an example being the fact that there are no secrets in our market. So everyone is well aware of what competitors are up to, especially as staff and contractors move around. Additionally, choice of distributors in the AV market for major vendors is very limited, often only one, hence in some cases this leads to questionable local support for pricing and knowledge. So it’s on us to proactively address these deficiencies.”
The problem of limited distributors in New Zealand is further exacerbated by the proximity of the country to Australia. Greenop says: “In order to gain economies of scale we are often treated as a single market alongside Australia by distributors and vendors and overall, somewhat irrelevant even in Asia Pacific. We have addressed this challenge by adopting a proactive partnering approach for outbound opportunities that we generate and the reciprocal arrangement for inbound requirements. It is vitally important to align with partners that share similar quality standards and innovation lead, services based approach to customers.”
However, the competition does not extend over to integrators. Greenop says: “It is unusual to see the Australian based integrators engaging direct with customers here in New Zealand. If they do it is likely to be a local branch office of their customer in Australia. For trans-Tasman opportunities, we always engage with our partners. Even wider, on a global scale, through the Global Presence Alliance (GPA) which we proudly represent in New Zealand, we have established partners, processes, standards and ongoing support capabilities.”
But that does not mean life is easy. Greenop comments: “There is reasonably strong competition amongst the traditional AV integrators, especially in the ‘tender’ scenario where it follows the traditional path of responding to a defined bill of material and decisions are based on price. Asnet prefers to engage with the customer, take responsibility for design, explain value, ROI based on lifetime costs and offer an ongoing service model. It is not uncommon for us to not respond to tenders.”
Opportunities For AV Market Growth
Despite the small size of the market, there are opportunities for growth in New Zealand for those who know where to look. Greenop says: “Both the corporate and government sectors are pretty active markets at present as the focus tends to move from our customer being the facilities manager ’owning’ the rooms under a capex model, to the AV over IP model, delivered as a service, with CIO and IT departments being our customer and consequently an opex model. “
He continues: “If the customer is more IT centric, possibly the CIO, they tend to be more willing to engage in the solutions being delivered from an innovation and user perspective, the analysis of technology usage and the associated monitoring services, uptime service level agreements (SLA’s) and responses. Combined with the gradual adoption of flexible workspaces, slowly, the market is becoming more educated about AV collaboration, huddle spaces, wireless content sharing, standardised interfaces and so on. This is especially the case when we have the ability to discuss and demonstrate successful projects incorporating innovative technologies and thinking. This gives them the confidence to take innovative solutions and models forward into their own environment. As always, word of mouth references are like gold. This is especially true in a small market like ours.”
As can be expected from a mature market, the latest trends in technology are driving the evolution of New Zealand’s AV evolution. Greenop comments: “There is a major shift into AV being delivered over IP, and the demand for remote monitoring and management of deployed solutions. AV over IP also assists in the integration of video recording and streaming across the network. Wireless in-room connectivity is a standard desirable for content sharing, but customers remain wary of possible security implications.”
He continues: “Anything to do with integration into Skype for Business is of interest and has afforded Asnet the opportunity to become the first authorised reseller for the Surface Hub product from Microsoft here in New Zealand. There is no doubt that there is pent up demand which has emerged since the announcement of the first units available here in New Zealand in November 2015. Within the facility, integrated room booking capability is becoming a standard requirement and ‘flight boards’ in foyers add public messaging to this technology.”
Greenop advises the AV market industry to move with the times and trends if they want to remain relevant: “We are in a rapidly changing industry as we head towards ubiquitous BYOD collaboration, simplified room packages, common and standard simple user interfaces, and excellent in-room experiences. This is a 180-degree shift from the traditional AV room scenarios of the past with bespoke designs, point to point dedicated cabling, zero ability for data collection and little provision for ongoing support services. Companies that are not addressing these issues are always going to find it hard. Because of our heritage in managed services, networks and support, all of the aspects required to deliver against these expectations are in our DNA.”
View the original article by Hurrairah bin Sohail from Inavate Asia Pacific Magazine.