As we build up towards ISE 2018 in Amsterdam, AVTE speaks to some of the industry’s leading manufacturers about their experiences of the show, why they keep coming back and a preview of what visitors will see
Ahead of the world’s biggest AV trade show on earth, AVTE wanted to find out what it is about ISE – a show that attracts more than 1,200 exhibitors – that keeps them coming back for more.
We sat down with Robin van Meeuwen, president and CEO of Crestron EMEA to find out more.
Hi Robin. Why is it important for Crestron to exhibit at ISE?
That’s the billion dollar question! We have supported ISE now for the past fifteen years. We were the founding member to join when it launched all those years ago in Geneva because we firmly believed it was the right thing to do to have one single European show to focus our business on reaching out to all corners of our territory. Bit by bit ISE grew and grew and we firmly believe investing a major part of our marketing budget for the year that we would have this presence at this show. I have to say that over the years we have never looked back and thought what a waste of effort.
It is a big event for us, it is a very big drain on our resources and on our people but we always come away from that show thinking wow what an amazing show, what an incredible event it was
It is a big event for us, it is a very big drain on our resources and on our people but we always come away from that show thinking wow what an amazing show, what an incredible event it was. Every trade show for every player, every manufacturer no matter what industry you are in it should have various goals and our number one goal is to have presence so we have a place to meet to talk to our customers and share our vision, share our passion, share our technology, the way forward, give our customers the confidence that we are here to support them, give new customers that confidence that doing business with us is the right thing. So yes a show should encompass all those things, feelings and that I think we do with ISE, we love doing it and we put on a good show, the exhibitors see us as a key player and we’ve never looked back and we’ve always supported it, it’s a very relevant show for us.
It’s not any more about the size that counts but the quality and we’ve got to drive more people to the show that count
How has the show evolved over this time?
At the first show there were maybe 30 exhibitors and 500 people attended, today there is over 73,000 people and more than 1,200 exhibitors. It has evolved into a phenomenal show and I can say proudly that we have won the award for attracting the most visitors to the show numerous times, so every year they have a competition where they give you a passcode which we give to our customers and when they use our passcode they can see how many registration we have and I can say we have won it more than anybody else which we are very proud of.
We do draw a lot of people to the show, people come to our stand because they like the vibe and the free beer and coffee, the company and the company we represent. We’ve never looked back and the show has been growing and growing every single year.
What are your thoughts on it being held at the RAI in Amsterdam?
I’ve been talking at length with the organisers about Amsterdam and they’ve asked me many times shall we move it somewhere else and I am absolutely against moving. The organisers would like to move to a more modern facility which is easier to have more exhibitors and easy to navigate rather than having 15 different halls. There are much more modern facilities in Europe that we could go to but Amsterdam is really a very neutral place, it’s a little village compared to many places around Europe and it can accommodate everybody, it has that community aspect to it so yes I hope that we can stay in Amsterdam for many many more years to come. It’s not any more about the size that counts but the quality and we’ve got to drive more people to the show that count, more people from the industry and the industry that we are part of which is IT.
How does ISE compare to other shows around the world that you exhibit at?
It is the sheer scale of the show, I must say the organisers have made a good job of attracting people from the IT sector because with the term Unified Communications that directly is in the line of the IT space, everywhere now uses Skype and there’s so many other products out there that you use to communicate and that’s all via the network so yes they have done a very good job of attracting those people.
We want to speak to the decision makers, whether that’s end-users, highly skilled professionals or of course IT professionals
Who are you looking to appeal towards at the show?
In a nutshell we want to spend time with all our customers, we’ve got our top customer base and they come to the show and sit down with us, meet the management and spend time with us in strategic meetings about their business and benchmark us against any of our peers and they quickly see what we have on offer, what the vision of the company is and therefore that’s the right choice to be with. From my experience the people who are attending the show are very technically savvy, there are of course sales people that come, business owners that come, but we want more of the actual decision makers, we want to speak to the decision makers, whether that’s end-users, highly skilled professionals or of course IT professionals, the CTO’s that we want to speak to and show them what we could mean for their business.
The end-user that we are talking to now from a commercial point of view are much more technically savvy, they have many things that are important to them, many things that count
ISE has become a major destination for end users. How important is it for you to be able to speak directly to end-users?
The end-user that we are talking to now from a commercial point of view are much more technically savvy, they have many things that are important to them, many things that count. In IT the number one thing is security, security means everything so these people come to the show and they want to make sure that we can meet their security requirements, that we can meet their communication requirements. That’s why they want to investigate deeply and that’s something we’ve always been very proud of, we’ve hired the right resources in R&D to ensure there is no compromise on security because that means everything to a corporate customer, whether it be customer data breaches, all those sorts of things, you hear the horror stories every single day well we’ve definitely sealed all that off and we meet all the security requirements especially now that video is going onto the network we’ve got to ensure that all the security levels that are set in the IT world are applied to our technology as well.
The MD of ISE, Mike Blackman recently told us that manufactures are sometimes concerned that end users don’t always get to see or hear about many of their AV products and services, because their integrator may have an ulterior motive (often financial) to recommend your competitors – due to existing relationships or limited knowledge. What are your thoughts on this?
It’s a valid statement to a certain degree, we’ve got very good partners, integrator partners integrators who really get us and really understand our technology and they commit a lot of their lives getting onto our training courses and getting to know our products and yes it’s a minefield for them as well to understand all the other manufacturers they need to connect our stuff too and understand ours too. We have over 4,000 products so it’s difficult to get to know them all, in my eyes it’s a two-pronged approach. We need the integrators to do their bit and we need to do our bit. We also enjoy a good close working relationship with established big names in the corporate sector and we work with them on a daily basis to communicate with them what our technology can and can’t do so the integrator can implement where necessary.
We’ve got so many top secret things that we can’t mention at the moment, we keep everything top secret kind of until we get to the show
We have a dedicated team of people who are focused on the different markets so we have a team of people focused on education, a team focused on the corporate sector, a team on the public sector. So, it’s their job to go and knock on the doors and educate the end-user base on our technology. Of course there are hundreds of thousands our there so we can’t be speaking to them all so our first approach is to reach out to the top first, the big names, the big corporates, our list is pretty long, just sitting in my office here I’ve got a list here of our global enterprise customers, so these are customers which are all in the FTSE 100, or the NASDAQ or the Dow Jones and this list is those which we have global agreements with as corporate customer. There are 336 at the moment which we are very proud of and this list is growing every single day and there are big names on here. So, we approach them, we make them aware of our technology we have of course a price plan with them and then when we speak to them they might have a relationship with an existing supplier so we of course work very closely with their existing supplier on this agreement and on the other side we can also recommend the right integrator partner for them.
We normally launch around 10-20 new products at the show sometimes even more
What can our readers expect to see at your stand and why should they take the time to stop by?
We’ve got so many top secret things that we can’t mention at the moment, we keep everything top secret kind of until we get to the show… no that’s a joke… for me of course we normally launch around 10-20 new products at the show sometimes even more. I am also very proud to say that even being an American company where our number one show in America is Infocomm, last year it was hosted in Orlando this summer it will be Las Vegas again, we used to use that show as a launch platform for our new technology but now they really see that ISE is a global show, we’ve got American visitors, Asian visitors, even people from Australia and New Zealand coming to the show, the whole of the EMEA region so we are using it now as a global platform to launch technology.
We’ve got training courses and the consultant events and we are going to have a spectacular party for our customers
This year also for the very first time we are splitting our stand in two so we have our dedicated focus on our traditional market, the corporate market, also known as our meeting room environments , from training rooms, huddle rooms, auditoriums and boardrooms, but now we’ve got the other side of our stand which is dedicated to the residential sector so it’s the first time that we’ve done this so expect a big launch on quite a lot of new residential products as well so we will have some corporate use of products and we will have residential as well. That’s pretty exciting. This is the first time that we have done this at any show, combined the two. And of course we’ve always said that there are products that are in our portfolio today which account for a big part of our turnover so we have to keep the focus on these products too. The new products are the future but our existing products is today and that’s also very important that we keep reminding our customers how the technology should be deployed and we’ve got a couple of really big surprises in store for our visitors but the focus has got to be NVX, Digital Media NVX, that is a very big thing for us.
Beyond the stand itself, is there anything else you or your company will be doing at ISE?
We’ve got training courses and the consultant events and we are going to have a spectacular party for our customers, they mean everything to us and so they will be receiving an invitation, they have already had a save the date and we are going to have a spectacular party this year different to any party we have done before, like I said its top secret at the moment but we are doing it totally differently to the way it’s been dome in the past but it’s going to be wonderful.