We’ve spent the last few weeks analyzing ISE 2018‘s success and technological trends, while we still hadn’t heard the official voice of this achievement architects. We found more interesting doing it exactly a month after the show opening, by interviewing Mike Blackman, ISE managing director.
Connessioni – A success in numbers, with 80.923 visitors, but also in enthusiasm that we felt walking through the 15 halls of ISE 2018. Which do you think are the elements of this growth?
MB – The primary driver is the strength of the AV and systems integration market worldwide and the need for the technologies and solutions that are presented at the show. We have now reached a critical mass whereby ISE is the de facto destination of choice for the global AV community. This position has been achieved over 15 years and steady growth year on year underpinned by our desire to give the industry what it tells us it needs, rather than what we think it needs. Because of its size today we get a real “buzz” around the show. Almost 600 media attend and our exhibitors use the show as a launchpad for hunderds of new products. Exhibitors are also creating great looking and highly engaging stands. It all makes for a busy, upbeat atmosphere. Also, content is a vital component of ISE when building the sense of it being an “event”. This year we offered a comprehensive conference and keynote programme that ran alongside the professional development programmes curated and produced by AVIXA and CEDIA for five successive days. Many exhibitors also ran their own events, demos and training days during the show. ISE brought it all together. We wanted visitors to learn at ISE and to feed this back into their companies and to their colleagues.
We also wanted to reach out into the city of Amsterdam this year and so we sucessfully launched the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition. This was a joint venture between the Amsterdam Light Festival, RAI Amsterdam and ISE. The competition saw leading video artists’ project video artworks onto the EYE Filmmuseum in the centre of the city. The competition culminated in Florian and Michael Quistrebert receiving the winner’s award for their artwork Stripes 5 on the last day of the show. In many ways it encapsulated everything that ISE represents – technology and solutions furthering creativity.
C – Thinking about this edition’s trends, we found evident, also in leading companies’ booths, the focus moving from products to solutions, as well as growing importance of professional end users among ISE visitors.
MB – I agree. End users will know that at ISE they will see more new products and senior technical, management and marketing personnel than at most events they visit. They also know that they will have a diverse set of technologies being showcased; from digital signage to unified communications or from live events to residential and education. ISE represents a great ‘bringing together’ of people, products and solutions. It’s one of a kind.
There has also been the gradual shift from companies selling “boxes” to companies selling “technologies and solutions”. Broadly, this has happened as follows…end users have expressed a desire to see “real world” applications of technology often presented in a collaborative manner involving a number of different providers. Manufacturers have become sought to become the “partners” of the end user and in doing so provide a higher level of service. ISE has provided the venue and marketplace to enable this evolution.
C – For this reason, do you think that also the role and position of system integrators will change in the coming years?
MB – Firstly, I think that ISE will remain a systems integration show. What has happened, and will continue to occur, is that more “systems” will become part of the technological spread that the show covers. For example, ISE has embraced the IT community so that systems integration professionals operating in this space now see that unique value that ISE offers. Similarly, we have been reaching out to the electrical community with the same objective. Traditional AV integrators have also widened their approach and in doing so have made themselves more valuable.
C – Together with the show, ISE 2018 confirmed the success of pre-show events: AudioForum, Smart Building Conference and TIDE Conference went sold out. Are you thinking of new initiatives for next year edition?
MB – We were very pleased with all the conferences that took place during ISE 2018 and I heard very good reports on the AudioForum which is a welcome fixture in our programme. This year we introduced an XR Summit, which focused on virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and bloolooplive, which explored the visitor attraction market and ‘nighttime spectaculars’ in particular. One of these conferences was produced by ISE (XR) and the other by a media partner. They both brought insight and market intelligence to our visitors on the latest technologies, solutions and market trends from two completely different perspectives. We see this as part of our mission to educate and to highlight new business opportunities to our attendees.
We are currently reviewing all our content for 2019 and you can expect that there will again be some exciting developments.
C – We can read on ISE website that exhibitors’ confirmations for the 2019 edition already cover the 103% of the 2018 show-floor. Is your staff already planning how to deal with logistic issues coming from this exploit? Are you thinking about a new location?
MB – We had close to 300 new exhibitors at ISE 2018 compared to 2017 and the addition of a brand new hall (15) that was based at the front of the RAI Amsterdam. In total, there were almost 1,300 exhibitors filling 53,000sqm of floor-space. The challenge for ISE is making sure that we can accommodate all those that wish to participate. We are curerntly reviewing how we can best house everyone that wishes to be part of ISE 2019. We are commited to the RAI Amsterdam for the next two shows.
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