Dan Goldstein, senior VP marketing and communications, gives his views and experience on how ISE has evolved:
“One morning during ISE 2017, I took pity on a complete stranger and allowed him to share my cab to the RAI. He was clearly in a hurry and, as is so often the case, there were no other cabs visible from the entrance to our hotel. He turned out to be a senior executive from Panasonic. Based in the US, he travels the world to visit corporate end-users of the company’s technology, to see how they’re using the systems and how their business needs are evolving.
His job is not, as some in the integration community fear, to allow Panasonic to sell direct to these customers. Rather, the feedback he receives is channeled directly back to Panasonic’s engineering R&D in Japan, ensuring tomorrow’s products are not just leading-edge but pertinent to the modern challenges of doing business.
As we continued our stop-start journey through the Amsterdam traffic, my mind wandered back a dozen years, to the first time ISE was held in the Dutch city. At that show, I was Editor of Installation Europe magazine and Panasonic was exhibiting for the first time, occupying the stand next-door to ours. I fell into conversation with the company’s senior staff member present, who told me how tough it had been to get budget to exhibit at the show. His issue, he explained, was that so few people within the company saw AV as its own market, distinct from consumer electronics, broadcast, IT or construction.
Panasonic has been with ISE ever since, and my guess is that the show now drives a huge amount of the company’s B2B technology market growth. Much of the reason for that is that the event now appeals not just to the AV channel, which has itself grown significantly since those pioneering days in the mid-2000s, but to the end users my 2017 ride-sharer counts as some of the company’s most cherished long-term customers.
ISE is still predominantly a channel show. It probably always will be, but visitors who are new to the show are more likely to be end users than previous attendees, and that trend looks set to continue this year.
Doing a circuit of the (now much larger) show floor last year, it was not hard to see why. The show’s exhibitors now go to huge lengths to make their stands more immediately appealing to the end-user community. Flat-panel displays are shown in mocked-up retail environments. Collaboration systems are demonstrated in fully functioning huddle spaces. Background music can be enjoyed from real restaurant tables. Attendees can see how automated lighting can alter the mood in almost any space imaginable, both interior and exterior.
You no longer need a college degree in electronics or computer programming to derive real business value, not to mention enjoyment, from a trip to ISE. The show floor is as inspirational as it is educational. And the same is true away from the show floor, where the event’s conference programme is also moving solidly in the direction of solutions that deliver the desired business outcomes for end users.
This year, as in 2017, AVIXA will be hosting half-day conferences for the corporate and higher-education communities during the show days, while on the eve of ISE 2018, our TIDE Conference will make its European debut. Standing for Technology, Innovation, Design and Experience, TIDE is the first event of its kind to tackle the topic of AV systems design from the perspective of the customer experience. It is an unashamedly high-level event, featuring globally recognised speakers who describe themselves variously as artists, innovators, design thinkers and video architects. None of them has spoken at ISE before, and that’s really the whole point. As the voice of the end user becomes ever more influential in commercial AV, so the conversation around the industry’s largest trade show will evolve in new and creative ways.
I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the AVIXA team in Amsterdam. Because, as my 2017 ride-sharer would point out, the more heightened our awareness of end-user needs becomes, the better off the whole AV industry will be.”