4K, Apple Watch, HomeKit: CEDIA hosts State of the Industry round table

posted on Friday, 26th September 2014 by David Slater

CEDIA  Events 


If you’ve not been to a Connect with CEDIA event then you are so missing out. This month’s event, held at Shaka Zulu, in Camden London, was one of the best yet, introducing as it did a round table discussion to the mix, providing a platform for industry professionals to debate developments within the custom installation sector and consider The State of the Industry.

Inevitably, Apple and its home automation for the masses HomeKit proposition was first on the agenda. Will HomeKit have a negative effect on the traditional CI market? Intriguingly, the feeling in the room was mixed; Personally, I think it can only help to educate mainstream consumers about the benefits of custom install technology. There will always be a need for integrator’s as most devices will need setting up correctly in the home, wireless, wired; routers and access points all need setting up with a close eye on security.

CEDIA hosted debates always prompt a lively discussion between a wide range of integrators, and if you are new to the business you will always find them informative. With a selection of distributors and manufacturers around the table, the debate quickly gathered pace. Stuart Tickle, MD at AWE, made a valid early point point: Integrators should choose where their business should be positioned. Are you mass market or high end?  There is profit to be made as long as you are focused on how you are charging for your services.



Kris Gamble, MD of Customised, believes there is a divide in the industry between the high end install community and the mass market installers and is worried on where it will take the industry if not policed. At DSE Digital I was lucky enough to have experience in both markets; yes the big projects look wonderful on paper but I preferred ten smaller jobs to one larger one, and in any case, it’s all about watching your profit margin and charging enough for your time. Sonos has brought wireless music distribution to the masses and yes it is easy to set up, but as a company we installed hundreds of these systems and made a good profit.

Training is high on CEDIA’s list of priorities and Simon Buddle, newly appointed as education director, was on hand with a wealth of knowledge at the debate. As the conversation moved on to how future tech will work over CAT 5e, he made the valid point that codecs are rapidly moving forward, greatly helping the distribution of video around the home. It’s very true that 4k is going to be hard to move around your home but if you look at the first flavour of BBC iPlayer, it was clunky and slow. Today it streams with no problem and offers vastly improved quality, which is all down to the software boys improving the underlying codec.

Simon also confirmed that CEDIA is working on a revision to its popular Recommended Wiring Guidelines booklet. I find this resource a great tool when selling to developers. It’s a simple step by step guide that helps anybody new to the market understand the wiring infrastructure required to produce a solid install.

The discussion then moved to future trends. What did the table think will be the biggest game changer going forward? The table concurred that 4k Ultra HD is already having an impact; like 1080p HD before it, it’s being welcomed with open arms by integrators, we just need more content to help drive awareness and hardware sales. 

Chris Pinder, MD of HD Connectivity, suggests the next big thing is going to be the Apple Watch. As the so-called iWatch will control your lights, TV, music and life, he has a good point. I hate getting off my seat to get the iPad to control my TV, but if the control device was strapped to my wrist I might be more inclined to use it...




So what did this State of the Industry debate conclude? The opinion around the table was that the CI business is still in a good shape. Certainly tech is becoming easier but like most trades if you are good at your job there will always be business.

As for the round table, everyone seemed to enjoy it. CEDIA operations director Matt Nimmons says the format provides “the perfect platform” for the CI community to get together and openly express thoughts and voice concerns. “As the leading trade body, we are ideally placed to host this type of event and were pleased to welcome a cross section of the industry at this forum,” he told Inside CI. “We’ve been hosting the Connect with CEDIA events for the last three years, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere to network with our members and industry peers. We believe that the structure of this year’s event was incredibly successful, and will look to host more of these in the near future.”

As for CEDIA, it pulled off another great networking event, choosing an excellent venue with lots of time after the round table to catch up with friends, old and new. Don’t miss out on the next CEDIA Connect; it’s always worth taking time out to meet with fellow integrators.
For more on the work of CEDIA, visit our resource page here.



Also read:
In-depth: What Apple homeKit will mean to CI
HD Connectivity interview: The new cool
CEDIA appoints new education director

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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Posted by David Slater on 26th September 2014, 10:16 AM
I thought it was a great move forward to have a debate at the Connect event, let us know your thoughts
Posted by Kris Gamble on 26th September 2014, 10:27 AM
The event was long overdue. The format needs a bit of fine tuning because it was difficult to be heard and recording and minuting of it would have been beneficial to non-attendees. The key topics raised were around wiring, standards, emerging markets and customer service. Wiring is critical, a revision of guidelines are needed but there needs to be involvement with non-CEDIA members, a better understanding of the wired home will come from discussions with commercial networking and electrical contracting industries. Standards have to be set sooner rather than later because consumers, construction professionals and manufacturers demand it. Emerging markets highlight the opportunity for the Smart Home industry to promote themselves as the providers and maintainers of technology currently available and emerging. Finally, customer service is crucial and a skill that many businesses overlook in the quest to be technically proficient, every other industry invests heavily in staff training in service. If the Smart Home industries service is poor and below-par then be prepared for a backlash in press and social media circles. Please drop me an email to discuss my views further kris@customised.uk.com
Posted by Matt Nimmons on 26th September 2014, 12:36 PM
Kris, I can confirm that the discussion was recorded and CEDIA will be making available a transcript for those who couldn't make it. The venue was chosen primarily for the Connect networking event and once we made the decision to also host this debate we had to compromise on the environment. In future we will select more suitable venues for this type of discussion. Also, CEDIA recognises the importance of standards specific to our industry and those that influence it. We have formed a Standards Committee and have already engaged with The Institution of Engineering and Technology in this area. Look out for the next issue of Communicates magazine for more information.
Posted by David Slater on 26th September 2014, 2:00 PM
Looks like everybody is finding Connect with CEDIA event interesting my twitter feed is glowing red with activity. Oh and we now know who the photo bomber is thanks to AWE its Christina Tickle....
Posted by Darren Shear on 26th September 2014, 2:04 PM
Kris makes a good point about standards, but this has always been the case if you look back 5 years white van man was destroying my business with below average quotes and sub standard work that 9 times out of ten they could not finish.
Posted by Stuart Tickle on 26th September 2014, 3:40 PM
This was a superb event - CEDIA always used to have Trade Supplier Councils and other forums at the AGM's, but the inclusion of the wider industry and related parties is a really positive step forward. More please! I agree that we need standards as soon as practically possible and my view is that we should work together to achieve just that, not against each other. However, it is important to recognise that we are only recently growing out of being a cottage industry. The CI industry as we know it only really started gathering pace in the UK 15-20 years ago and that was with the emergence of Home Cinema, AV and control. In comparison other associations such as the ECA is over 100 years old, and even CORGI (a.k.a. Gas Safe Register) only became compulsory in 1991. Quite worrying really... Agree or disagree? Post or get in contact via @stuart_awe on twitter!
Posted by Kris Gamble on 26th September 2014, 4:08 PM
It's a shame that the standards issue has raised its head again, is it a 5 year cyclical topic? What was done 5 years ago? What should not be confused is lower priced installs being associated with low standards of workmanship and performance. This was, probably unintentionally, referred to during the discussions. The reference was in relation to both product ability/reliability and installer ability/service.
Posted by Kris Gamble on 26th September 2014, 4:38 PM
Stuart Tickle - the inclusion of the wider industry is essential for these events to carry any gravitas because a minority of the industry are CEDIA members. The standards that may be set soon (if you speak to some) or later (if you speak to others) need to be discussed with the wider industry. There are businesses/people working outwith the CEDIA zone that need to be consulted on topics such as wiring, to highlight one area, where standards are needed. Or instead of redesigning the wheel, guess what, the wiring we are talking about standardising into homes has been a standard fit in commercial buildings for 25 years! Let's move away from elite, members only discussions in an association that may become a minority figure when 400 member businesses are in a market with 3000+ businesses offering a Smart Home installation service in 5 years time. I am harsh at times but I'll give you my honest opinions. What are electricians views on NICEIC or ELECSA, is there more joined up, whole industry thinking? Is there more parity because they all hold similar qualifications and meet the same standards but some work on the big houses on the street and some in the average Joe's house? See if we can break an InsideCI record for most article comments?
Posted by Stuart Tickle on 26th September 2014, 4:45 PM
A lot has happened in 5 years - don't get standards per-se, confused with standards enforcement. Before enforcement comes guidelines such as the Technical Reference Manual, White Papers, EST training certification and so on available to all from www.cedia.co.uk and www.cediaeducation.com. This is all being funded, developed provided by CEDIA and their volunteers. Want to get involved?
Posted by Stuart Tickle on 26th September 2014, 4:49 PM
I admire your passion and honesty Kris, but fear if we break an inside CI record it may well be only the three of us posting! To be clear, any reference to low priced installs during the conversation from me was relating to the inherent risks of low priced mainstream equipment relying on third party software & devices, rather than the ability of the installer themselves. There is good stuff out there like Sonos/HEOS but flaky equipment fails no matter how well installed, and good equipment fails if badly installed!
Posted by James Middleton on 26th September 2014, 5:23 PM
Interesting debate guys, I think it does not matter what business your in, plumber, electrician, integrator one of the main reasons to get trained is to be better than the other guy and to minimise mistakes. CEDIA whether you like them or not are the CI trade body that is offering training and qualifications. I don't think having a CEDIA logo on my van would make a massive difference to what work I get but their training has helped me to plug some holes in losing profit from my humble business.
Posted by Kris Gamble on 29th September 2014, 3:13 PM
Stuart Tickle - I am already heavily involved in the industry in a voluntary basis, I am not involved in the CEDIA discussions because I choose not to pay a subscription to be involved. If this lack of monetary contribution dilutes and weakens my views, ideas and actions then so be it. I still see a number of people disagreeing and agreeing with these comments so I must be getting heard on specific channels. The emerging markets in new price categories are where new entrants are coming into the industry. Some early entrants, like Customised, think they are entering the custom install industry but after a while you realise the custom install industry is not the fit for your business. The UK custom install industry has an established association with high valued properties in pockets of the UK and overseas. A lot of businesses do not fit into this space and or have no intentions of operating in this space. They underrepresented due to the consistent media and marketing coverage offered to the higher end market. The high end is mature, the players are established and the postcodes they operate in show no sign of decline in value and specification. Meanwhile the middle ground installers tread a lonely path, no marketing support, no media support and no development in increasing the support. Where are they turning? They do their own promotion and events and they operate on tight budgets and small resources. Their manufacturers and suppliers are starting to support them more, flexible training, gap filling training that is reacting to their needs, greater product range and marketing support, they see the numbers. The new comers or middle ground installers are now seeing other businesses like themselves appearing on social media, using a common hashtag and language. Great, more likeminded people operating in the middle ground and for a change they are also talking to each other. Networking - the enabler of growth at pace. You can bury your heads and ignore the trends and voices but the 5 year cycle has come round to that change point again, the industry review. Fail to act and the next 5 years will be hard and a lot can change in 5 years in home technology.
Posted by David Slater on 5th October 2014, 10:34 AM
Kris, you say “the middle ground installers tread a lonely path, no marketing support, no media support - they underrepresented due to the consistent media and marketing coverage offered to the higher end market.” That’s one of the reasons why the ITSA Awards were created – to provide a showcase for the work of non-CEDIA members. There’s no cost to enter, the only thing required is a bit of effort. Let’s see if the ‘underrepresented middle ground installers’ can be bothered to take advantage of this media and marketing opportunity.
Posted by David Slater on 5th October 2014, 10:35 AM
Posted by Kris Gamble on 19th December 2014, 12:12 PM
The ITSA awards appeared to be a great success. All entrants were of outstanding quality. Pinnacle stuff. Anything new to look forward to in 2015?

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