Old Dogs at InfoComm
By Ron DeVoe
Principal, Successful Sales Consulting
InfoComm is now 75 years old and while I am not quite that age, I look around and found that I have become an “old dog” of the AV industry. You can spot an “old dog” fairly easily. Sometimes he is identified as one who remembers easels, speaks in analog or is few pixels shy of a full display. Further evidence is the gnarled hands from the pinch of a fast fold screen or the dimmed eyes from aligning or tweaking too many projectors. His feet are flat with a little less spring in their step due to long hours either working or walking trade shows. You might overhear him as he voices such truths as, “In my day, we did not have the Internet, cell phones or Pony Express.” Projectors were sold by “old dogs” before there was electricity and the concept of integrated systems was adopted by selling an extra lamp and extension cord.
My first InfoComm (then NAVA) was in the mid ’70s. I marveled at the giants of the industry like Bell and Howell and Kodak and knew that their places were rock solid for the future. In later years I watched as small start-up companies like AMX, Extron and Crestron frantically tried to usher people into their 10×10 booths and I seriously wondered about their chances. I remember experiencing the great multi-image shows with thousands of projectors, huge screens and the irritating clicking of slides. Now several decades later, I still marvel at the new giants while strolling the aisles, looking for the next industry game-changer. Throughout all of my time within this industry, I have learned many things. We are an industry that is always in flux. I remember a colleague of mine, while viewing the throngs at an ICIA event several years ago, saying that all of this industry will disappear soon. But the industry is stronger than ever. The constant that has made our ever-changing industry succeed is the people who have embraced change. Second, these very people have maintained professional courtesy and friendships in order to foster this truly relationship-based industry. I am very grateful to have been a part of it all of these years.
The technology has not really overwhelmed me. I have maintained my knowledge base of acronyms from NTSC to HDMI, from VC to IP and POS to SOS. I am connected, synced, automated and entertained with the latest and greatest of every gizmo. Audio and video surround me. Unfortunately, I cannot program my coffee maker. It is indeed hard to teach an “old dog” new tricks.