Is My Favorite ISE Product Good or Bad for ProAV?

You’ll read a lot about ISE over the next few months. It was the biggest ProAV and HomeAV show ever. Over 73,400 people attended in Amsterdam and it is NO LONGER A EUROPEAN SHOW. ISE is truly an international show.

And, you’ll read about all the 4K stuff, all the new software codecs, all the new wireless stuff, all the new AV-over-IP stuff and how the industry is heading towards a collision with IT — even though IT doesn’t even give a shit about AV.

But, my favorite product from ISE wasn’t any of those — not even close. Mine was the emergence of what I am calling the Collaboration Board.

No, it’s not new. In fact, Prysm (then called Anacore) invented the category some six years ago with this debut and then InFocus about four years ago with the debut of the Mondopad. And, although InFocus has sold some, they are about to see explosive growth as that category is now been “validated” with the introduction of some big-named brands entering the category — GoogleCiscoNEC — just to name a few (and, of course, Microsoft entered it last year with the Surface HUB).

But, at ISE, it was the break-out product — with over 20 manufacturers entering that product category (some new brands and some old brands).

And, yes, InFocus will benefit, big-time from these companies. And, for those of you who think that NEC, Cisco and the like will eat InFocus’ lunch, did you know that Wainhouse Research is about to report that the Collaboration Board category is going to be a $1.5 Billion market next year? So, if I were InFocus, I’d be perfectly content with 5 or 10 percent of that market.

But, is the Collaboration Board market good for ProAV?

Let’s take a look:

1. It’s an all-in-one product: All the Collaboration Boards are all-in-one products with a display, sources, switching, routing, control, video and audio (even conferencing) integrated into one solution that you put in a meeting room. No projectors to add, no touch-screen overlays to add. No control system to add — thus, no programming — and no in-room AV system to add. It’s a hang-and-bang that’s, in most cases, on wheels. No integration required.

See also  Updated: Is ZOOM Your Next Competitor?

2. No integration required: Most of the Collaboration Boards are wheel-in-and-use experiences. Sure, some can be hung on a wall, but all you do is connect it to their (the customer’s) network and, voila, it’s ready to use. No integrator required.

3. No integrator required: Since it’s all pre-assembled and pre-integrated by each manufacturer, there’s nothing left to integrate — the IT department can take it from here…

So, it’s TERRIBLE for ProAV!

Actually, wrong — this is actually a gift from the AV gods.

The Collaboration Board is the equivalent to the good-ole-days of AV when AV integration companies basically became an in-house department of their clients’, offering on-site rental departments. In fact, it was a strategy — a business and marketing strategy. Maybe most of you reading this are too young to know this, but there was a time when an AV integration firm started a rental company/division to “own” the client/customer. In other words, they actually placed in-house rental staff, inexpensively, into their largest clients to offer in-house services to the customer — thus, by default, any time said client/customer needed to buy AV company, they’d yell down the hall to their in-house rental department (remember, staffed by rental techs form AV installers) and ask for it. Then, it appeared. No price haggling and barely a needs analysis.

And, some rental companies started AV integration firms because of this — so it worked both ways.

This is the same. So, we’re going to sell $1.5 Billion worth of Collaboration Boards with a walk-up-and-use experience and we will be able to use this as a “foot-in-the-door” piece to sell everything else. It’s like selling the customer a hand-held remote and then they realize they need a giant TV to control with it.

So, no, the Collaboration Board market is nothing but good news for the ProAV community. Embrace it. Don’t over-engineer it by adding crap the customer doesn’t need on to it. Make the experience what it should be (and is designed to be) — simple, plug-and-play and consumer-like.

Then, use it as a way to get in the door and tell them what else we can do — how we can make every single room they have work this well. Easy.

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..

  • This new development kind of had to happen. If we leave our cozy nest of AV for a moment and take a view from above one can only wonder how much our industry was (or still is?) focused on solving the fundamental problems.
    Serious money can still be made by ensuring that the iPad screen shows up on the LCD, that the voice of a lecturer can also be heard down the hall, etc. Up until the rise of these collaboration boards more or less zero effort was wasted in our industry on how the content to be presented is managed and such. Matter of fact: In the huge majority of rooms its still the gold standard to take a pic of the whiteboard with your phone in order to document your meeting! This is totally archaic and the new platforms like Cisco Spark and others really focus on the content and people.
    Well, one of the very few exceptions was/is SMART, which does (what a surprise!) collaboaration boards! 😉
    Logn story short: I think we are at some form of cross roads. The end user simply doesn’t pay us any longer for what seems to an outsider being a small technical challenge (like transmitting a HDMI signal over 100ft up to the projector).

    Just a few questions we should ask ourselves:
    Where do I upload my content (files, presentations) prior to my meeting to so I can securely access it even when I forgot my notebook at home?
    How easy is it to dial out of the room to one of the guys, who originally promised to show up but ended being stuck at an airport, so (s)he can follow and participate?
    Where does the content being generated during the meeting (whiteboards, annotations on excel charts, etc.) end up so not only the participants can look it up but also other members of the team, which were not present but should be updated afterwards?
    So, if we forget about the technology for a second and remember the reason why our end users called in a meeting in the first place its very obvious why its not good enough anymore to simply allow both VGA and HDMI to be connected to the same floor pocket.
    Maybe we should spend more time with SLACK, SPARK, SKYPE instead of HDMI, HDCP and AIRPLAY? 😉