Insights gleaned from the final ISE in Amsterdam.
As I write these words, it’s that time of year again—that time when most of the world’s AV industry has descended on a freezing cold Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to show off their new offerings (and party). Yes, I’m referring to Integrated Systems Europe (ISE).
As is the case most years, the 2020 event—the last one scheduled for this city—has given us a few themes related to our space that are worth examining.
Huddle rooms continue to be an important new growth area in the market. Last year, there were four to five players tackling huddle-room spaces; today, there are more than a dozen solutions from many existing and new manufacturers. The measure of success has changed, as well. A year ago, much of the talk was around USB devices working with Windows-based PCs. These continue to be extremely important, but it’s interesting to note that some companies have announced—and began to ship—huddle-room solutions based on Android.
It seems very likely that both types of solutions will continue to grow dramatically, and, certainly, each has its advantages (and fans). Indeed, each camp has a list of pros and cons. It all boils down to customer choice.
Another trend involves just how clever our devices have become. Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming an important aspect of more advanced huddle-room systems. With the ability to count people in a room, gather valuable data and insights, and provide even more automation, AI helps organizations get a much better sense of their asset utilization. Enterprise management will soon become vastly different than it was years ago, as much more AI and machine learning (ML)-driven information will be available to the administrators.
As nice as all these new huddle-room solutions are, very few customers want only to equip small huddle spaces. So, the race has begun to have a series of solutions with a consistent user experience in a variety of rooms. It’s interesting to note how well some players are doing with this, whereas others’ offerings are quite disjointed. This space is certainly evolving and maturing extremely quickly.
Last but not least, a meta trend we’re seeing in the market centers on partnerships and consolidation.
The big news among AV resellers was a crush of significant mergers and buyouts in the integrator space just before ISE commenced. Very few of us in the industry would have predicted some of the larger ones. The new combinations make sense on many levels, but I suspect that they will have other ramifications and ripple effects in the market, as well. Indeed, mid-level players might also have to consolidate to compete.
Industry manufacturers also announced a number of partnerships in conjunction with ISE’s kickoff. Clearly, these are just the latest examples of a continuing trend of unified communications (UC) competitors coming together and/or working together for customers and their needs.
As I look back on all the news from ISE and look forward to next year’s show in the warmth of sunny Barcelona, Spain, I see a reordering of an industry that once prided itself on complicated, expensive and rare solutions from different vendors. I also see a refocusing on customers’ needs.
I have a clear understanding of what I think people want out of videoconferencing, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. With that in mind, I anticipate more announcements on partnerships, consolidation and solutions that tackle the various needs that customers present, but with a focus on increasing flexibility, choice and simplicity.