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What ISE means to end users – is it really worth the time and money?

To find out, we asked some regular attendees what it is about the show that keeps brining them back for more

To find out, we asked some regular attendees what it is about the show that keeps brining them back for more

For end users working in AV, justifying a visit to ISE can be a major hurdle.

Held in Amsterdam, 80 per cent of all ISE attendees are required to travel internationally to be a part of it. As a result, the trip can be both expensive and time consuming – with days out the office, travel expenses, accommodation, show tickets, food and drink all things to consider first.

Such expense – like with any business – needs to have a return on investment, with evidence that attending – over simply reading the endless articles and press releases during and after the show – is of benefit to the company.

Statistics paint a pretty picture. 30 per cent of attendees at the show are now end users, many of which are regulars – some have attended them all since its inception back in 2004 (Geneva).

To find out more about its appeal, AVTE spoke to four end users about their experiences of attending ISE and the value it provides.

I’ve been so many times I’ve started to lose count 

Hi guys. Thanks for your time. How many years have you now been attending ISE?

Adam Harvey: I have been attending ISE for over ten years now. I’ve been so many times I’ve started to lose count.

Ben Pain: I attended ISE for the first time in 2013 and I’ve been every year since.

Kevin McLoughlin: I’ve been attending since 2011. I had heard so much about the value of ISE from other tech managers, from learning about the latest AV technology, brokering deals that could save your employer money and the education available that it seemed valuable enough to convince my boss to agree to fund the flights and expenses.

Rob Hyde: This year is my tenth appearance in the last twelve years.

How does ISE compare to other AV trade shows? 

AH: Scale. ISE is huge! You can pretty much see anything you will ever need to see and meet up with every industry colleague you can think of. You have to manage your time carefully and make sure your appointments are made well in advance. To see everyone and everything you need in four days can be very challenging.

BP: In terms of the other exhibitions focusing on event technology, filming and media, IT or audio-visual – ISE is still the largest and the best. It really does have everything. It’s not a show you can do in a day. The first year I wandered around in some kind of an AV daze, the proverbial kid in the candy shop.

KM: All other trade shows can only try to compare to ISE. It is unique, not only in size but also in scope in what it covers. That’s growing every year, so it trumps all other shows for overall value.

RH: It’s the most important one to attend. It’s not because of its size, it’s more that you can compare, contrast and visualise a product in its own setting.

It’s the most important one to attend. It’s not because of its size, it’s more that you can compare, contrast and visualise a product in its own setting

What is it that keeps you coming back?

AH: I keep returning to ISE for a number of reasons. To see the latest products when they launch is a huge benefit to keeping ahead of the game as we’re generally planning 18 months ahead, or as much as we can. The ability to catch up with key suppliers and manufacturers all in one place is extremely useful and I generally find I can get a lot of summer work forecasting finalised based on these meetings. The networking is also a massive benefit.

BP: The key reasons to attend are to learn about the new products and to meet up with service providers.

KM: The ability to research specific products and services related to upcoming projects with both the equipment and experts on hand all at one venue is invaluable, as are the growing educational resources. The manufacturer seminars, the conferences and the keynote presentations are all very important.

RH: If anything, it’s not necessarily the larger companies that are so important as we get to see them regularly. It’s the smaller companies who tend to do things a little differently. The other important factor is the ability to ask questions not of the sales staff – but of the other support staff too.

The ability to research specific products and services related to upcoming projects with both the equipment and experts on hand all at one venue is invaluable

Anything specifically you’re looking forward to?

AH: I already have a full diary of meetings and stand tours booked in for ISE based on projects I am due to deliver in 2018. I have also signed up for a few seminars on various subjects of interest.

BP: The AVIXA, AV User Group and SCHOMS seminars are always great and full of useful ideas and best practice. It’s nice to catch up with industry friends and colleagues. Great, knowledgeable people, the best in technology and a great social experience – what’s not to like?

KM: Again, there’s plenty. The AV User Group runs a sponsored trip each year, which includes a speed pitch session on the Monday before the show, where 20-plus manufacturers have eight minutes each to give end users/buyers a reason to spend time at their stand during the show. There’s so much.

RH: I’m actually looking forward to finding a technology, a product, or a process, that will be very useful to educating the students. Really, it’s looking for a thing that we haven’t seen before that we might be able to use. I’ll of course be visiting the manufacturers that we’ve used in the past too.

It’s nice to catch up with industry friends and colleagues

Has attending ISE ever impacted your decisions for products and services used/deployed in your work place?

AH: Often, but I suppose the biggest real world example of this would be our Science Building and the use of AV over IP technology and the WyreStorm NetworkHD product. I saw this at ISE in 2014 and the idea for the Science Building AV solution, in essence, all stemmed from there.

BP: Massively. In 2017 it was all about UC technology, as the RCP is half way through an in-flight project to roll out Skype for Business across the organisation. In 2016 it was collaborative learning tools for the upgrade of our training spaces and in 2015 it was audio for live event spaces. This year I’ll be trying to meet suppliers of control systems as we begin to make plans for a new building project in Liverpool.

KM: Every single year, ISE has influenced my purchasing decisions on products and services including arranging many on-site demos, loans and assistance with projects directly with the manufacturers that under normal circumstances takes much more time and logistics.

RH: It certainly has. We made the decision to go to laser projection six-years ago. It was fairly uncommon then. We’ve changed the way we’ve done source switching twice in the last five years too; given the way we handle sources for the teaching staff to show. For our big lecture theatres, we changed the way we processed the signals entirely, so we now handle the video and audio separately from each other. We’ve recently moved our audio to fully digital, and especially for the big rooms to network standards based.

Building relationships with manufacturers at ISE is amazing as it’s the only time you won’t have an integrator between you and them

How beneficial is it to be able to get a broad view of the industry for yourself, rather than relying on others (integrators, media) for information?

AH: It’s a massive benefit and one I am a big advocate for. We have direct relationships with all the manufacturers that we use and others we don’t. Having the broad view and as many contacts as possible is key to being able to deliver the best technology and solutions for your specific environments and users.

BP: The secret of ISE is always, that you only get out of it what you put into planning your trip. Prioritise your time, arrange to meet people and keep your appointments. Building relationships with manufacturers at ISE is amazing as it’s the only time you won’t have an integrator between you and them. Manufacturers love to hear from enthusiastic end users to learn how they improve what they make. You should always give yourself half a day just to wander around – that’s when you find the unexpected.

It’s important to get your eyes, ears and hands on particular bits of kit

KM: I can ask specific questions that relate to my own place of work without the middleman (integrator), which cuts to the chase and gives me the information I need to make better decisions without delay. In the ISE environment it is more efficient for making comparisons, for getting past the sales team and pushing for information on roadmaps, R&D and solutions to specific problems. I can hop from one manufacturer to the next armed with new information that often leads to more questions and research resulting in solutions I hadn’t even thought of before arriving at ISE.

RH: It’s important to get your eyes, ears and hands on particular bits of kit. That can be done with the manufacturers or with the integrators, however, we’re aware that many integrators have a preferred manufacturer (or maybe several). The media take on it can be very good – but it’s usually from the functionality of the device, or how well it works. We’re more interested in how good a job it will do relative to what we designed. I’m charged with having a good understanding of the industry and to predict and build-in technology that will facilitate what the academic staff need to do their jobs.

It’s a fantastic industry to be part of and it attracts good, passionate, intelligent, friendly people who are fun to be with

What’s the best thing about ISE?

AH: I really enjoy my time at ISE every year and it’s always very productive on the days I am in Amsterdam – and then the whole year following. For me it is the key event in the calendar.

BP: It’s a really simple answer from me. Having so much expertise in a single place.

KM: It’s a fantastic industry to be part of and it attracts good, passionate, intelligent, friendly people who are fun to be with. Like most in the industry I found my way into AV by accident – but I am so glad I am part of it and attending ISE and meeting friends new and old is an annual highlight.

RH: ISE for me is the best way to see lots of solutions to potential problems in a very short period of time. If I wanted to see all the companies that provide display sharing and they all came in for an hourly appointment it would take more than a week. By going to ISE I can get it in a couple of hours. It saves us a huge amount of time.”

If you’re an end user and headline to ISE, why not spend Wednesday evening (February 7) with other likeminded professionals, celebrating the industry at our inaugural AV Technology Europe Awards. Tickets are still on sale. Click here for details.

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