Proof Consumers Still Desire Professional Services Over DIY

Like the trend of music lovers re-embracing vinyl records and vintage gear, research shows a rise in professionally installed and monitored systems.

By my calculations I have attended 100-200 security industry trade shows and conferences but it was not until this year that I was able to experience the annual Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) expo, which was recently held at the Denver Convention Center.

That is because it had been considered somewhat peripheral to security and also tended to conflict with the ASIS show (now GSX), as it did this year and why I was unable to make it to that convention in Chicago.

Two major shifts have changed the landscape. One is security’s increasing and foundational role in the smart home; and the other, in market relation to that, is Emerald Expositions’ purchase of both the CEDIA show and Security Sales & Integration the past two years.

It was an eye-opening experience and I have to say (completely independent of my new corporate allegiance … well, mostly) that I was very impressed with the CEDIA event. The atmosphere, venue, exhibits, education, presentations, attendees and vendors were all first-rate.

At about 80% the scale of ISC West, head-turning AV displays and speakers predominated; however, there were plenty of connected home, tools, business software, vehicles and more universal to custom and security installation pros alike. The bottom line is if your security business is serious about the connected home market, CEDIA is an essential event — and organizers are committed to adding even more value.

Beyond that, if you’re a home theater or high fidelity buff like me, you’ll be in heaven. Growing up with an audiophile grandfather and dad, my passion for music was matched by that of the equipment through which it flowed and the eternal quest for pure and accurate reproduction.

During my youth, as they would regularly acquire new components and upgrade systems, I was often the beneficiary of discarded models. I also traded gear like baseball cards, only the star players were names like Marantz, McIntosh, JBL, AR, Akai, Technics, Kenwood, Thorens, Wharfedale, Soundcraftsmen, Infinity, Sherwood, Sansui, Nakamichi, Teac, Dual, Cerwin Vega, Harman Kardon, Audio Technica, Fisher, Advent and many others.

I spent countless hours trolling retail outlets (and record stores) and was an avid fan of magazines like Stereo Review, Audio and High Fidelity. My fascination (some might say obsession) with electronics has carried forth to computers, gadgets, and security and smart home devices, but vintage audio amplifiers, receivers, preamps, turntables, reel-to-reels, speakers, etc. are to me what classic cars are (only a little more affordable) to the automotive aficionado.

Trends of the past few decades that have relegated music listening from an immersive and focused experience using a powerful audible system to fill a room to typically serving as background mood setting, or being distractedly heard through portable devices and earbuds while multitasking, have been abhorrent. It is not unlike forsaking professional, custom-tailored security systems in favor of very basic or DIY alternatives.

There is some light on these horizons, however. In the case of music, there has been a grassroots movement afoot to re-embrace vinyl records (now outselling CDs) and vintage gear. In security, the 2019 Home Automation Deep Dive shows a rise in professionally installed and monitored systems.

What’s more, the November cover story on Preventia finds that fast-growing company reporting no DIY impact on its residential business. Indeed, a loud battle cry reverberating throughout CEDIA was consumers’ persisting need for professional installation, monitoring and service for both the custom home and residential security channels.

“Due to the expansion of the ecosystem and increased complexity of smart home devices and systems, no matter how simple manufacturers attempt to make the products, there is a strong need for the pros,” said Google’s Gene LaNois, head of professional industry partnerships, during the company’s Smart Stage presentation.

Quite often those pros are likely to be security dealers, like Vivint, which exhibited at CEDIA for the first time.

“Security is increasingly becoming the center of the smart home environment,” Vivint Senior Director – Pro Channel Chris Ivie told me. Rather than tackling the entire smart home market, security providers may want to follow Vivint’s lead by partnering with custom home installers.

“Security and the smart home are merging. It’s a massive opportunity because only 15% of custom electronics firms are doing security,” added Ivie. Next year’s CEDIA event is set for Sept. 8-12 at the same location, this time with more than a week buffer before GSX later that month in Atlanta.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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