Sessions We Loved From InfoComm 2020 Connected

By: Steph Beckett & Leah McCann

The first-ever virtual InfoComm 2020 Connected was held Tuesday-Thursday of this week, and it was packed with products, education and networking. This was a historic event — the first-ever online version of InfoComm — so we wanted to make sure we were there for it and provided our coverage/insights. In case you missed it, we shared the full schedule lineup for InfoComm 2020 Connected earlier this week, where we listed out all of AVIXA’s sessions and helped our readers navigate the virtual experience. You can read that story here.

Here’s the recap of some of our favorite sessions from InfoComm 2020 Connected.

InfoComm 2020 Connected logo

TUESDAY, JUNE 16

Keynote: A Better Normal: Reducing Friction and Finding Our Way in a Hybrid World
Dave Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, and guests

Keynote_IC 20 Connected

Dave Labuskes always knows how to deliver a good keynote. We know this because we saw it on ProAV of LAVNCH WEEK 1.0 (which, by the way, was one of our favorite sessions from the week). We, at rAVe, have had the pleasure of seeing Lasbuskes speak in person a few times now; his virtual keynote for InfoComm 2020 Connected was as thoughtful as any other we’d seen. As he kicked things off, Labuskes led by saying that the AV industry has the knowledge, skills and experience to build a “better normal” that connects us all. The AV industry has the ability to bring virtual engagements into the physical space, combining both for better experiences all around. Labuskes also dived into the idea of character within the AV industry; we have the ability to amplify love, hope and joy — but also, unfortunately, hate and prejudice. He urged us to lean into the former, not the latter, and to take away new perspectives, relationships and skills from this event and use them for this “better normal.”

A while into the keynote, we heard from Kate Wik of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on her perspective of enhancing technology in Las Vegas today (cue ordering drinks poolside via your own app), Las Vegas being known for constantly reinventing itself (have you heard about the high-speed underground transportation system they’re working on with Elon Musk?), and InfoComm getting back to Las Vegas for 2022. We then heard from Sam Taylor of Almo, who gave a detailed look at how AV will grow and thrive and asked us to embrace the change. Taylor added, “I’ve been in this industry 33 years; technology brought me into this industry, but it’s the people that I’ve met here that have kept me in [it].” Likening the AV industry to heroes, humbled by the courage that’s been shown by all, Labuskes said, “A hero is an individual that is recognized for courageous acts or a nobility of character. Courageous acts — that makes me think of the AV industry. I think of how our industry has responded to this pandemic since March, and I have nothing but amazement for the courage that’s been shown.”

Our Favorite Session: Almost Famous
Timothy Albright, AVNation TV and Megan Dutta, Systems Contractor News

Screen Shot 2020 06 19 at 3.47.03 PM

I don’t know about you, but I always find it interesting to hear about the pieces of technology that others say are here and are on the come-up, but haven’t quite arrived yet. That was what this particular session — led by Timothy Albright of AVNation TV and Megan A. Dutta of Systems Contractor News — was about. What are the things that are starting to gain traction in our industry and are right on the brink of fame and esteem?

According to Timothy and Megan, there are a few things:

  • OLED — Yes, I know what that is and you know what that is but did you know that it’s making its way downtown from Times Square and eventually into your boardroom and corporate lobby?
  • AV-over-IP — Yes, you’ve likely heard its name. Timothy was somewhat hesitant to bring this up because it tends to be a polarizing issue in our industry. But he says the IT industry is going to force our hand and make us, the AV industry, declare a standard at long last. We want a standard and we want it now!
  • Dolby Atmos — traditional surround sound is still a thing but we are really looking to what Tim says is “surround sound on steroids.” And yes, this is a bit of a residential product but it doesn’t take a ton of imagination to figure out how this could work in the ProAV world too — news flash: It already is.
  • Server-based DSP — This is a move not only in the audio space but in others where AV technology and manufacturers are looking to the servers to match/beat the processes and put technology on boxes/servers/clients to give opportunity to leverage processing power.
  • Last but not least — cloud control. People are looking to adhere to one control system for an entire building/campus. Tech managers are already moving to cloud-based everything.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17

Keynote: State of the AV Industry (#AVIXAIntel)
Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence for AVIXA; Harry Patz, senior VP and general manager, display division, Samsung

State of ProAV 1

State of ProAV 2

Wednesday’s InfoComm 2020 Connected keynote, “State of the AV Industry,” was given by Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence for AVIXA. Also featured was Harry Patz — senior VP and general manager, display division, Samsung — who built upon Wargo’s insights. Wargo is a familiar face — we’d just attended and written about a webinar he recently presented, also on the latest industry findings. Wargo’s keynote dived into this data even further, providing an overview of the latest research from AVIXA on the expected trajectory for the proAV industry over the next five years. As he did for his webinar in early June, Wargo highlighted areas of stronger or weaker growth coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a look at the screen shots above, which show vertical impacts and outlooks on an X-Y axis. Wargo explained that it comes down to fundamentals and what you want to assume about the marketplace. He added, “One of the values that AVIXA puts forth is courage.” While Wargo expects that ProAV (7.7% decline in 2020) has been harder-hit as compared to GDP, full recovery could be back around the 2022 mark, when we “exceed the peak.”

Our Favorite Session: Cuz I Love You Too Tour
Jaisica Lapsiwala; Danielle Edwards; Loreen Bohannon

InfoComm 2020 Connected Cuz I love you too

When I (Steph) clicked on this session to get ready to watch, I thought, God, I hope this is somehow an intersection of Lizzo and live-event AV. Well folks, sometimes the heavens open up and provide you with an InfoComm session about one of your favorite artists.

Did I ever think I would be watching an AV session that included the word, “twerking” in it? Absolutely not. But away we go.

Danielle Edwards was the lighting director on Lizzo’s tour, “Cuz I Love You Too,” and AVIXA’s Jaisica Lapsiwala asked her a few questions. So, what does it take to design the lighting for one of the biggest artists in music right now? According to Danielle, a lot. When you’re working with an artist so big, there are so many people with so many visions around her — creative directors and the like. And that’s why preplanning was so important for this event. Sometimes there are seemingly great ideas that don’t work for rental/staging! The most surprising piece of equipment she said was used on the tour? The Glaciator that, according to Danielle, they kept running the whole time. (And yes, there were some issues with that: Dancers slipped on the condensation that the Glaciator created on the stage — so the team had to figure out how to keep that from happening.)

See related  THE rAVe Agency Brings on Amanda Beckner As President and Chief Operating Officer

Loreen Bohannon was also part of the session — as the monitor engineer for the tour. She said there were technical issues along the way but all that did was make the team scale up their production value! Loreen described her role as being a “security blanket” for Lizzo, because any time our favorite performer was on stage, Loreen was the one mixing the sound that was fed into her earpieces — what a job! Her unique challenge? Having to craft a unique IDM cover to protect it from sweat (I’m a theater kid and yes we all know about the condom trick. Apparently this trick did not work for Lizzo.)

All-in-all this session was so much fun to listen to because who doesn’t want to hear about the behind-the-scenes tech that goes into producing a show for a world-renowned performer? 10/10 would recommend.

THURSDAY, JUNE 18

AVIXA Women’s Council Breakfast
Sara Potecha, author of “West Point Woman,” council chair Brandy Alvarado, and guests

AVIXA Women's Breakast

On Thursday morning, the AVIXA Women’s Council gathered together to hear from Sara Potecha, author of “West Point Woman,” on how to become a better leader in difficult situations; with those conversations came tools to navigate the continued uncertainty of the pandemic. We also heard from council chair Brandy Alvarado and other leaders about how to get involved at a local level. After the breakfast, one attendee wrote, “Not a question as such, but this is the most engaging and profound presentation I’ve attended at IC20.”

Keynote: AVIXA Board Fireside Chat
Rodrigo Ordóñez, CTS-D; Jeff Day; Samantha Phenix; Jon Sidwick; Victoria Dade

Keynote - IC 20 Connected 2

In the final keynote of the week, members of AVIXA’s board of directors discussed how AV firms can realign their products and services to guide clients through the technology changes required in a post-pandemic world.

“Now, I think, there’s a realization that there can be a remote experience … but they will still be intrinsically different,” said Samantha Phenix of Phenix Consulting. Victoria Dade of Sonicfoundry added, “This has been great, but there’s no getting around that in-person [experience] …. It’s so important right now that we move forward to get to that place. I am all for watching a concert online, but there’s nothing like actually seeing it in person.” Moments later, after a slight pause following one of the tough questions posed by moderator Jeff Day, Jon Sidwick jumped in. He said, “If we don’t engage correctly, someone else will.” Jeff Day added, “The AV industry is attached to bigger initiatives, bigger conversations, than even the AV industry. The point is being cognizant of how broad that is.”

Our Favorite Session: Rebuilding Revenue in the Wake of COVID-19
Brock McGinnis; Joe Dunbar; Victoria Ferrari

infocomm 2020 connected rebuilding revenue

OK, fine, we watched a session on COVID-19. I justified it because I really tried to make an effort to not pick all COVID sessions to watch. Every time I hear, “the new normal” I can’t help but roll my (Steph) eyes. Suffice to say, it isn’t because I think the term is wrong, it’s just because — what does it even mean? What is normal? Sorry to get rhetorical and philosophical. Moving on.

I brought up all the stuff above to clarify that this session was not like that. Brock McGinnis, Joe Dunbar and Victoria Ferrari are all in the business of selling — but naturally in the business of selling you’re in the business of people. The point of this session was to — yes — comment on the highs and lows of selling in the current market but also to talk about the things that are holding us together right now.

Victoria said it best.

“We’re all trying to assemble an airplane while it’s flying through the air.”

Right on, sister. But even though we’re all just sort of floundering around trying to figure out what the heck we’re going to do and how we’re going to plan for the future — we can’t lose sight of an important point: This is the time for the AV industry to shine because we can do things that no one else can.

Joe echoed this point by including that it’s important to think outside the box right now. There is no box anymore. Throw the box out the window. Get to know the customer and allow your customers to communicate their needs!

Joe’s final point: Stay on the grind. Don’t give up! And with that, Brock added that all salespeople (and really, everyone) should stay empathetic right now. Customers can smell when you really care about them or whether you’re just trying to make the sale. They aren’t idiots.

I think that’s something we can all take away as we remind ourselves to be patient and respectful of others at this time. We’re all adjusting and trying to build our respective airplanes mid-flight. Be kind!

And the winners of the AVIXA Foundation Virtual 5K go to…

This special event for InfoComm 2020 Connected was a fun one. The idea of a virtual 5K is, of course, a different way of thinking versus running a 5K in person. But we were up for the challenge. “While I didn’t place in the top three for the 5K, I had a grand ol’ time running. Didn’t hurt that I got to run it at the beach either. No offense, Vegas.” —Leah

AVIXA Foundation Virtual 5K logo AVIXA 5K Winners

Shoutout to the actual 5K runners with the fastest times, one of which is rAVe’s own Keri Lartz!

That’s a Wrap on InfoComm 2020 Connected

While we couldn’t convene in person in Las Vegas this year, InfoComm 2020 Connected was there for us. This week, we had access to excellent industry education, thought-leadership from tech experts around the world, and tons of product showcases. We wish we could’ve attended and covered every session. If there was a session from InfoComm 2020 Connected that you enjoyed, let us know on social media.

Per AVIXA, if you missed a session, want to rewatch content, or want to continue finding exhibitors, you can access the InfoComm Connected platform through August 21. If a colleague of yours missed the event, let them know they can still gain access for free. All they have to do is register. Please note that all sessions after today will now be “on demand” and no longer eligible for CTS RUs.

Lastly, be on the lookout for a survey from AVIXA, who wants your feedback!