May 13, 2009 11:42 AM,
By Michael Goldman
Last year around this time, flowing out of NAB and into InfoComm, I commented in this space that the vibe I was picking up on around the industry was the force of the AV/IT integration trend. A year later, we have another overarching, and somewhat related, theme to highlight: the green AV paradigm, which is pretty much everywhere. It’s such an important topic for both business and social reasons that we are devoting much of this issue to it.
But there is another, more ominous, theme pulsating as we head to InfoComm 09: this wicked recession. Having just attended NAB and preparing for InfoComm, I’m getting plenty of opportunities to chat with those in the industry about how they are dealing with the situation and how valuable these legendary tradeshows are in the context of this environment. Certainly, the rough estimates I heard at NAB were that show attendance was down significantly, and I’m hearing suggestions that InfoComm’s attendance will be down as well.
Still, at NAB, I had a stream of manufacturers talk to me about how the tire-kickers are the ones staying home, and that those who showed up did so because—in the words of one longtime industry watcher—“they really want to be here.” The notion is that companies are making hard buying decisions right now—committing to technologies and workflows for the foreseeable future—so a targeted number of high-level buyers were coming to NAB on a mission to do some real business.
It will be interesting to see if InfoComm sees a similar zeitgeist this year. The organization, of course, is hoping for the best numbers possible, and it is pointing out that the pro AV industry has been largely holding its own in the last year, comparatively speaking. But regardless of whether the show’s numbers are up or down, the argument that serious businesspeople who have very little room for error in this shaky economy simply must attend, and fully exploit, InfoComm seems logical.
InfoComm International executive director Randal Lemke, Ph.D., strongly made this point recently in his April Executive Update enewsletter. In his piece, Lemke points out that the more the economy quivers, the more important InfoComm becomes to AV professionals. There, they will get their best, first look at the newest products installers will need to be competitive in the coming year; do some serious, hard-core networking as leads become more precious; and strategically educate staff for the new era in which professionals are required to multitask and do more with less.
I agree with Lemke. Now, more than ever, AV pros need to get together and seriously confab. I sincerely hope we’ll see you at InfoComm doing just that.