You can probably tell by my writing, that most often I still think of the world of AV from the perspective of being an integrator. As such, before the show I get really excited about exploring the show floor and giving my impressions of what I see and the potential new releases have on affecting change in our industry.
This year I had a plan to scour the floor looking for the new and innovative, the common place, and the just plain worthless and even promised the two people who pay attention to my blogs a “Snatch it up, Skip it, Shut it Down! Oh No!” review of the show. However despite my best intentions, I didn’t get to even walk the floor to make this happen.
It seems that I have found myself on the other side of InfoComm. The manufacturer side.
A large contingent of the show attendance is actually made of exhibitors, (in case you didn’t know that InfoComm counts the exhibitors and their staff as “attendees”.) In 2014, over 35% of the total reported attendance was actually made up of exhibitors. (It will be interesting to see if the 5% growth in the show this year was due to more actual attendees or due to more exhibitor staff on the floor).
Being on the other side of the carpet with over 12,000 of the other attendees is definitely a change from being at InfoComm to explore new products and research new items for projects.
The days become all about product education, relationship building, and storytelling. The goal becomes to help those that walk onto the double thick carpet from the aisle learn something new or experience something that will make a difference in their business.
I have found that the same traits and skills I used as an integrator to educate end users on the advantages of modern AV systems are just as helpful in helping other integrators cut through the marketing minutia and identify what products and features will help increase efficiency or solve problems in the field.
The show really becomes an offsite extension of the role I play everyday. I visit with clients to explore their business needs, connect the dots to potential solutions, have lunches and dinners with consultants or integrators to help build relationships and show my appreciation for their business, etc. It is an 8 am to 10 pm undertaking every day at the show, although I’m not complaining as I enjoy every minute of it.
Add in a couple days of company sales meetings and CTS classes to keep the credentials my company requires everyone to earn, and before you know it, 6 days have gone by and it’s time to get to the airport to sit and watch the lightning storms.
This year I had to rely on my friends and colleagues to keep me in the loop on products I needed to know about and will spend a few weeks after the show in my free time getting acquainted with the down and dirty details of them to make sure I stay relevant in the space as a whole. Those conversations and research will undoubtedly spur some more writing as well.
Some of my colleagues ask why I would willingly spend my free time doing this, especially when it may have no real impact on my ability to fulfill my current role. Well, the answer is, at heart, deep down in my technology-twisted soul, despite the side of the carpet I find myself on at this stage in my career, I still think like an integrator.
I love this stuff, and I just can’t help myself.