The lack of any baseline knowledge regarding the residential integration field in Australia has been bugging Paul Skelton for over a decade.
Before he became the CEDIA Regional Development Consultant, Australia and New Zealand, Skelton had been on the publishing side of the CEDIA channel for 15 years, most notably for his time with Connected magazine. Over the years, says Skelton, “We tried to do some basic research, but the one thing that always confused me in this market is that you could go to any distributor, any integrator and say, ‘How many integrators are there in Australia?’ Nobody could answer that.”
After joining the Association a year ago, Skelton set out to change that. “It came down to the simple fact that if CEDIA is to grow in Australia, we need answers first: How big is the industry? What's the industry worth? What's the average project worth? If we want new people coming into the market, we need to have this information available. We needed to be in a position we can actually say to scholastic leaders and potential technicians, this is a viable career.”
Thus was born the first ever “CEDIA Market Research Insights – Australia 2020/2021” report. As the finished product states: “This report seeks to identify the type of person and company installing smart home technologies, how they operate, and how optimistic they are about the future of this industry.”
As in every other part of the globe, the attitude toward the connected home has changed dramatically in the past few years. “When I started out, it was exciting to be in this industry because it was a luxury -- it was exclusive and everyone was working on these high-end projects with high-value clients,” says Skelton. The tension between the old-guard integration businesses and the entry-level firms is of some concern, as Skelton notes: “What we're getting now is a lot of new people into the market who aren't necessarily trained or qualified in any way. They're taking the entry level clients and mass-market clients too, and that's ruffling a lot of feathers.”
Some of these issues are revealed in the numbers that Skelton’s getting back from his surveys in the field. For example: “25.3% of smart home professionals are not ‘certified’ by any control system supplier,” notes Skelton. Also bothersome: “A little over half of the respondents don’t charge a fee for design.”
Skelton immediately identified some pretty big growth opportunities: “As the survey notes, there are believed to be 850 full-time home technology integrators in Australia.” Those 850 are serving a population of roughly 27 million, and the bulk of those are in the eastern third of the nation. While the cities of Sydney and Melbourne drive quite a lot of business, Queensland is getting massive traction. “There are some very, very big integration companies on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane (which is the capital of Queensland). They’re thriving up there. To me the data’s saying that Queensland is becoming of the future of this industry. They seem to have a grasp on it and they're pushing hard; much harder than everyone else.”
The survey discovered a fascinating overlap among related fields, says Skelton. “42% of home technology integrators are also licensed electricians,” he notes. “But there was a number in the data that concerned me in this regard -- 73% of people who responded claim to be a registered cablers. In Australia, you have to be registered with the government to pull cable through walls. People have to be careful: The potential fine at the moment is about $13,500 for unregistered work.”
On the positive side, one eye-popping stat is sure to drive interest in the field: Despite the rapid growth of connected home DIY devices and entry-level projects, the luxury home market is strong: “No less than 50% of home technology integrators earn in excess of $1 million each year.”
To hear more on the report, check out the CEDIA Podcast on the subject here. Download the survey – free to CEDIA members – here.