InfoComm 2023 Wrap Up and Takeaways
Amid the electricity of tens of thousands of AV professionals gathering in Orlando, Fla., for InfoComm 2023 this June, there was a renewed sense of connection, collaboration and community, as well as a refreshing commitment to the future of the AV industry. While it was like a family reunion for many who have been in attendance for five, 10, 20 or more InfoComm shows, there was an impressively high percentage of attendees for whom this was their first opportunity to attend an InfoComm. There were also those who were back at InfoComm for the first time in years.
Gathering and Seeing Friends
There is no denying that the once-a-year opportunity to gather and see friends tops almost everyone’s list of reasons to attend InfoComm. (This is what makes the AV industry so special.) Yes, InfoComm is still the place that AV professionals go to find the latest and greatest in AV technology and meet exhibitors that can help to solve short-term problems and long-term needs. However, many who attend get just as much business and personal value out of connecting with friends, meeting people in person, making new contacts and rekindling past relationships.
What bonded everyone together — regardless of industry experience, InfoComm tenure or role — was that this was the first time that the show was clearly back at full strength. This follows several years of diminished attendance, tempered excitement and cautious optimism, all courtesy of the pandemic and its resulting business challenges.
The most common quest shared among show-goers was identifying available product and software options to meet project needs. As slowed production, resulting from pandemic-related supply-chain challenges, has led to parity and renewed healthy competition among manufacturers, it has opened the door for integrators and clients to consider some previously overlooked options. Plus, while the idea of increased competition carries a threatening connotation, competition with an abundance mentality makes organizations stronger, benefits clients, spurs ideas and innovation, and is the antidote to complacency.
Infocomm 2023: A Noticeably Different Year for AV
Unlike years past, when manufacturers looked to outdo each other with hype and specs — trying to demonstrate how their black boxes were better than those of their rivals or trying to “expose” their competition — this year was noticeably different. There was more attention devoted to personalized service and support. This was demonstrated in conscious efforts to better understand clients’ needs, exhibit responsiveness and tailored customer service, provide practical and innovative solutions that added value, and be open-minded, collaborative and cooperative, rather than being guarded, closed-off and threatened.
Aligning with the refocused mindset of openness, collaboration and interoperability, many manufacturers demonstrated that they are listening to feedback from integrators, programmers and technology managers who need flexible products that can be easily, confidently and efficiently implemented in a variety of situations and applications. Rather than being restrictive or limiting which products can work together, manufacturers are featuring increased integration options through APIs, modules, drivers and plugins that offer turnkey compatibility and software updates that open the door to new features and possibilities for product adoption.
Growing Acceptance of In-House Integrators
Another sign of positive change and industry evolution is the growing acceptance of the in-house integrators, technology managers and clients who attend InfoComm. These groups, who were once outliers, have reached a critical mass and play a vital role in the AV business ecosystem. End users of all sorts are continuing to grow their presence, find more opportunities to have their voices heard and demonstrate the vital role that they play in the success of the industry. In the past, many might have perceived the trend of end-user empowerment as a threat. However, with a new mindset of abundance and collaboration, we now see that there’s a lot that can be gained from a welcoming approach, a sentiment of acceptance, and an embrace of the value of new roles and perspectives. What can be seen by some as a loss of opportunity, new competition for jobs or a threat to business can, for others, result in new relationships, opportunities to learn and grow, and inspiration for everyone in the industry to improve and be stronger.
Although change can be difficult for some, and trying new things or reversing course can be quite uncomfortable, the AV industry has shown its flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Some might feel that InfoComm 2023 had fewer technical advancements or must-see products; however, there were significant steps taken to strengthen the industry, improve businesses and achieve greater success as a whole through a positive mindset of inclusion, versatility and abundance.
By Steve Greenblatt, CTS, is president of Control Concepts, Inc. Brittany DiCesare, CTS, is the company’s client success manager.