Of all the challenges any MD would like to face, managing growth probably comes high on the list, and it’s a challenge that Mike Blackman, managing director of ISE, obviously relishes.
This year’s show will be 20 times the size of the first, and that’s a source of pride for him.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Blackman smiles.
“But a very satisfying one. I would never have believed we could achieve what we have.”
As an example of the challenge ISE faces, Blackman notes that this year will see some 16,000 first-time visitors, and he expects overall attendance to be up around ten per cent. The number of companies wanting to be part of ISE has also grown, which means that ISE now boasts a 15th hall.
“To do that meant building a pavilion where we once had car parking,” Blackman explains. “So that creates the challenge of what we do about providing somewhere to park.” He revels in the fact that the growth in ISE reflects growth in a very vibrant industry – an industry which it seems everyone wants to be part of.
Very selective“We have to be very selective about adding exhibitors,” he points out. “We have to evaluate very carefully whether a prospective exhibitor adds real value to the show. It’s hard to turn business away – but we know we need to do it.”
Blackman is, however, convinced technologies like XR – an amalgam of VR, AR and ER – will become integral to the industry.
“XR is no longer a toy, or something fun,” he says. “It’s rapidly becoming a commercial reality. Here at ISE, we’re showing what the future will look like.”
In the same way that ISE is focusing on ensuring that it has the right kind of exhibitors, Blackman is also keen to grow the quality, rather than the quantity, of visitors.
“Our exhibitors want to see more end user decision makers coming through the door, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver,” he notes.
Yet another challenge Blackman is trying to resolve is smoothing the flow of visitors across all four days of the show – making for a better experience not only for attendees, but also exhibitors.
That means holding some high-profile events, like the final and awards ceremony of the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition.
“What we have with ISE are exactly the kind of challenges we want,” concludes Blackman.
“They keep us fresh, they keep us creative – and they keep us busy.”