A Look Back and a Look Ahead – 2020 and 2021

Ed Wenck | Dec 15, 2020


Wim de Vos has proven himself perhaps the most prescient voice in the CEDIA universe when it comes to the trends of 2020. Back in May, the man behind the Spain-based firm Genesis Home Technologies had this to say:

“I looked back at CEDIA’s research and reports from last year and the year before. There were trends there: more robust networking, cybersecurity, and so on, that haven’t changed at all. The only change? Those trends are accelerating.”

We’ve quoted this nugget from de Vos before, but it is striking: We’re seeing the blending of the office and the home. Multi-use rooms that function as both entertainment and workout spaces. An increased demand for a robust network. Outdoor spaces as rooms unto themselves. All of these segments saw an uptick, and as a result, many, many integrators actually said their business increased year-over-year from 2019 to 2020.

“Median revenue for a custom installation company is up well over 10% from 2019,” notes Jason Knott of CE Pro. Knott’s publication is in the process of distilling all the numbers they’ve researched for the past year, and they’ll be dropping the info in their upcoming “State of the Industry 2021” article.

The WFH Reality

Working from home – “WFH,” as it’s been dubbed – became a new (and likely permanent) development for a great many people. The term “resimercial” has popped up as a shorthand for the blending of residential and commercial spaces (and to be honest, it’s more elegant than, say, “commerciadential.”) The “home office” is back, and all that needs to go into a proper remote work or e-learning space, from cameras to mics to sound isolation to proper lighting, are suddenly considerations that homeowners are acutely aware of.

The problem: These Zoom-based systems are less than ideal, fatiguing, and off-putting. As Rich Green (Rich Green Design) notes in the recent CEDIA podcast “XR Update,” the idea of collaborating or learning via some kind of mixed reality will soon be realized, and that experience will likely be vastly more satisfying. Another consideration: As the office moves home, and proprietary information is shared over networks that corporate IT departments have little control over, the need for proper cybersecurity becomes rapidly magnified.

The Entertainment Factor

In awful news for the cineplex, this news broke in early December:

In a potentially massive blow for the future of moviegoing, Warner Bros. announced Thursday that it's releasing all of its 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day as theaters. 

The films will be available to HBO Max subscribers at no extra charge and will stream for one month. After they leave the platform following the 31-day streaming period, the movies will still be available to see in theaters.  – USA Today, Dec. 3, 2020

This development, though, is obviously great for a CEDIA integrator: The home cinema and/or media room will be getting an even bigger workout in the coming months, and homeowners will want a better experience. Streaming of both audio and video had (obviously) shot up during the pandemic already, and this move by Warner foretells that there will likely be an ever-increasing supply of content for first-run home consumption.

That’s why folks like Mike Heiss (M. Heiss Consulting) stress the need for the integrator to understand their potential role as a “content concierge.” On the November 20 CEDIA podcast “Streamapalooza,” Heiss returned to this mantra. “Which services will be available on which device?” Heiss asks. “Do you know exactly what you need to ensure the client is seeing and hearing all the content they want?”