What’s Your Plan?

I’m taking a last look around the show floor tonight before it opens tomorrow. Everybody is commenting on the fact that the floor has a long way to go before opening and they are right. It is now 7 p.m., and it looks like many crews are going to be here all night. Most of the onlookers are asking why, and the predominant theory seems to be that, since the convention center is under construction in many parts, people must have had difficulty in getting freight. It looks that way, as many crates are still to be unpacked.

But I don’t agree. My theory: New stuff is still arriving.

Gary mentioned earlier on our podcast that we have received more new product announcements for the 2017 InfoComm than ever before. (BTW: Check out our podcast, live on Facebook, every evening at 6 p.m. as we wrap up the excitement and announcements from each day, at facebook.com/ravepubs)

He was right, and it isn’t that there are just a lot of new products — it is that there are whole new categories of product. And three new categories are dominating the excitement at the show: Collaboration, AI and VR. And each of these categories is going to change your business, no matter what part of the industry you are in. And you WILL need a plan to deal with them.

First, collaboration products and software. OK, this is not technically a new category of product. But, at this show, collaboration technologies are coming into their own. There are MANY new collaboration systems here, and from virtually all the major manufacturers (and some minor ones). The pricing is coming down, thanks to players like BenQ/Google with their Jamboard product, and Cisco with the Spark Board. The excitement over the Microsoft Surface Hub is pretty much gone among the dealers I have talked to, in favor of working with players that understand the market better and have introduced more integrator-friendly products at more moveable prices.

Then, Artificial Intelligence (AI). This really is a new product category within our industry. I have just been to a number of demonstrations in which an artificial intelligence has been introduced as a meeting participant, analyzing everything that is said or written in a meeting and adding analysis, treating the AI package as a distant meeting participant, and it has been a revelation, adding content and perspective from outside to the meeting discussions. And several manufacturers here are working hard at adding AI directly to their collaboration products.

Lastly, VR, or Virtual Reality. This is a subject near and dear to me, as I have been involved with simulation and VR since my first days in the business. I have long thought that VR was an enormous part of the future of the AV industry, and it is great to see that the manufacturers and distributors feel the same way — and that the technology is finally ready for “prime time”. VR allows the simulation of situations hard to stage in LR (Literal Reality), but beyond that, VR technologies are going to replace videoconferencing as we know it, placing us all around a common meeting table and allowing us to work together in ways telepresence has never really delivered, all without having to travel.

We will be examining all these things as the show goes on. But I want to leave you with a thought, and some questions.

The thought: These technologies ARE about to change our industry, forever. The handwriting is on the wall, as there are market imperatives coming together with the new technologies.

The question: What is your plan? Are your employees learning these technologies? Are you prepared to educate your clients about them? Or will you be caught reacting?

Watch rAVe every day as we bring you the latest info you will need to stay informed and make these new driving forces a part of your world.

Stay tuned, we will be here all week.