Research: Interactive Touch Business Doing Just Fine, Defying Doomsday Predictions

October 5, 2020 by Dave Haynes

When COVID-19 really hit outside of China and it was clear this was going to get bad globally, and the first wave of health safety messaging seemed to be more about touching things than breathing contagions in, it was reasonable to think AV solutions that used touch were going to take a big hit.

Turns out that hasn’t happened …

“The mass pessimism felt across the industry in March and April, leading to widespread expectations of weak Q2 sales, has not become a reality,” says Colin Messenger, Senior Consultant at Futuresource Consulting, in a recent press release. “It’s a huge result for the sector, particularly as COVID-19’s weight has been resting hard across the entire supply chain. Once access to schools was resumed, it quickly became clear that installation orders had been delayed rather than cancelled outright, back-loading much of the activity into the second half of the quarter.”

Futuresource’s industry tracking revealed a fast bounce-back, with a 49% quarter-on-quarter increase in Q2. According to the tracking service, almost all countries performed better and bounced back faster than expected.

The researchers say:

At the heart of the renewed demand for interactive displays is a new way of learning. Many schools have adopted a hybrid approach, blending online and offline to ensure educators can continue to teach while maximizing student safety. In many cases, class sizes have been halved using a weekly rotation, which requires 50% of students to connect to lessons remotely. There is also a high level of resilience planning and preparation taking place, with schools taking steps to ensure they have the right equipment in place to meet any future challenges.

“Despite market accelerations in Q2, year-on-year volumes are still depressed, and there’s a long road to walk before we see full recovery,” says Messenger.

Beyond education, corporate demand has yet to rally, although the future continues to show promise. By the end of Q3, we expect China to have returned to normal levels, and Q4 will end at close to our original global pre-COVID-19 forecasts.

“With 50 brands competing within the interactive displays market, it’s a dynamic landscape that continues to exhibit innovation and resilience. There is no doubt that its place is secured at the front of classrooms, while the value of touch will continue to rise. Longer term, we expect global sales for 2021 to exceed 2019 by around 2%, continuing to build annually throughout our forecast period.”

This backs up what Gary Mundrake, who runs TSItouch, related in a recent email:

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen the leading indicator of future business – request for quotes – return to pre CV-19 levels.   If you’re not quoting, you are not selling.  In the same vein, people don’t ask for touchscreen quotes because they have nothing else to do.”

“We have tracked our quote volume relative to our sales order volume for years.  There is about a 90-day lag between quotes and sales orders, but they are virtually lock step and have been for years.”

Mundrake also noted a bunch of customers who went dark for many months were coming back. He thought his companymight be back to pre-COVID levels of revenue sometime this quarter.

It makes sense. Most people are conditioned now to using hand sanitizer and washing their hands, and as noted a few times here, when you use a touchscreen you are very aware you are touching something. So you do your thing and whip out the sanitizer, or use what’s available right there.

The thing with self-guided touch interactions is it takes the place of one-to-one encounters in situations where personal attention isn’t necessary – like ordering stuff or seeking answers to routine questions. Limiting that contact is safer for consumers and the people working in those places. 


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