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How To Prepare For InfoComm 2019

The annual trade show doesn’t just reflect the state of an industry, but also its state of mind.

It begins, as it always does, with comfortable shoes. Only, this year, make them running shoes. InfoComm 2019, scheduled for June 8 to 14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando FL, will once again span more than half-a-million square feet of exhibit and event space. (Be good to your feet, if you plan to cover it all!) However, it will also host a new 5K race to benefit the AVIXA Foundation’s work to develop the next generation of AV professionals. Find all the information and register for this year’s show at www.infocommshow.org.

And that’s just one of the changes in store. In short, the annual InfoComm trade show keeps evolving, along with the industry it showcases. It attracts new and longtime participants who come to learn, experience, make new connections and nurture old ones. What follows are a few ways, aside from packing those ASICS, to position yourself for a successful InfoComm.

Broaden Your Thinking

AV is everywhere, being used in a variety of ways. The market for bread-andbutter conferencing and collaboration solutions remains strong, for example, even as a new community of creative professionals is using AV to invent new experiences for retailers, hotels, public organizations and more. From product activations, to digital art, to what are called “public interactives,” applications for all the technology on the InfoComm exhibit floor are virtually limitless when combined with the right content and consideration for the space in which the experiences will occur.

Anyone who visited Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, earlier this year witnessed the projection-mapping skills of Bart Kresa and his BARTKRESA studio. Kresa will take part in this year’s TIDE conference (Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience.) in Orlando. TIDE is in its third year, and it’s coming on June 11, the day before the InfoComm exhibit floor opens. It was developed in response to industry feedback, seeking new perspectives on the application of AV technology. TIDE will offer an opportunity to gain fresh context for what takes place later in the week.

This year’s TIDE includes speakers from companies such as ESI Design, iLuminate, MASARY Studios, Mood Media, Storied Systems and Wildbytes. Representatives of the University of Texas at Dallas will hold a workshop on executing AV experiences in public spaces, and Srinivas Rao, host and founder of the popular podcast “The Unmistakable Creative,” will deliver the keynote. They’re artists, dancers, scholars and entrepreneurs—and, chances are, their ideas about technology might be new to you.

If you can’t attend TIDE, or if your line of work never requires you, for instance, to build an interactive videowall for a public art installation, get on your Google machine anyway. Drop some of those company names in the search box and simply explore the ways in which people are using AV.

Prepare To Address The Questions Of AV Customers

InfoComm—and the overall ecosystem that we call the AV industry—has grown and evolved to include technology managers and the decision makers who buy AV systems. Depending on the year, they now make up about 40 percent of InfoComm attendees. Say what you will about this evolution, but InfoComm exhibitors have long sought more interaction with what we’ve come to call “end users.” And many solution providers throughout the industry agree that better-informed buyers lead to better solutions, stronger customer relationships and more business.

If your company operates in the AV channel, be prepared to engage these end users at the InfoComm show. That might sound obvious, but it can mean a different conversation than those to which some on your team might be accustomed. For manufacturers, it’s one thing to tell a reseller or an integrator about a new product’s technical specs; it’s another thing to ask end users about their business and then describe a solution that meets their needs (and includes your products).

Anecdotally, feedback from some end-user attendees has indicated that it can be hard to get the information they want on the show floor. (Indeed, some have even felt ignored when they visited booths.) They’re not necessarily going to wear shirts that scream, “I’m an end user,” and their faces won’t be as familiar as those of the industry friends with whom we catch up every June. It behooves all of us to be able to talk not only about the products, but also about the real-world application of those products.

If there’s any question about how different markets are applying AV technology, or what business challenges they’re facing that AV can help address, InfoComm continues to integrate those communities into the show. This year, the emphasis is on the retail and hospitality markets— two sectors in which sales of AV solutions and services are growing faster than the overall AV industry. There will be more than 30 sessions at InfoComm 2019 centered on AV in retail and hospitality, covering everything from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in hotel meeting spaces to using sensors and data to create unique retail solutions. Such sessions, part of the show’s seminar and workshop package, are designed for AV, retail and hospitality professionals, and they include the perspectives of all. They’re part of an overall push to bring industries closer together and allow AV professionals to have better conversations with customers.

Consider The Ultimate Users Of AV

It’s exciting to hear the AV industry discussing the importance of creating solutions with users in mind—not just end users, as we commonly call customers, but also the end users’ end users, such as workers in conference rooms and shoppers in front of digital signs. This might also sound obvious, but the concept of user-centered design, or user experience (UX) design, is relatively new. But, as has been noted many times, Apple didn’t make the first MP3 player—it made the one that best reflected how users would interact with the technology. The rest is history.

Designing AV solutions should incorporate the same focus on (a) what users require technology to do for them, and (b) how they want to do it. It’s at the heart of every needs analysis, a critical component of AVIXA’s AV design curriculum and CTS-D certification. As Mark Coxon, CTS-D, CTS-I, Sales Director at Tangram Technology, has noted on Twitter, “If you want to be a better partner to your customers, you should be talking more about their business and their people, and less about technology.” (Coxon will be teaching a session at InfoComm 2019 called “Using AV Technology to Trigger Customers’ Biological Responses”—a uniquely user-centric seminar.)

For a deep dive, Lisa Perrine, CTS, CEO of Cibola Systems, and Jesse Fishman, CTS-D, Senior AV Systems Design at The Sextant Group, will run a special three-day workshop the week of InfoComm 2019 on “Design Thinking for AV.” It starts with a field trip to watch people experience a space, and then proceeds to an exploration of five design-thinking principles—empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test—and how they apply to AV experiences.

None of this is to say that everything you’ve come to expect from InfoComm will not be part of the 2019 edition. There will be thousands of products, opportunities to study and test for your CTS certification, standards development, networking opportunities like the Women of AVIXA Breakfast and the AVIXA Diversity Council, and much more. But context is also king. Encouraging new conversations and fresh approaches to applying AV technology makes InfoComm a must-attend event. So grab those running shoes, and I’ll see you in Orlando.

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