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Deborah Hawkins, Renee Clarke

ISE 2021 Kicks off as a Hybrid Exhibition

How technology has augmented experience

Jun 8, 2021 12:22:28 PM



The Integrated Systems Europe 2021 show kicked off for the first time in a hybrid format on June 1. As one of the world’s largest AV shows, this year’s hybrid iteration combines live elements in Barcelona (June 1-2) as well as in London (June 23-24), with digital content covering thought leadership, research, and product promotion.


The New Normal Is Hybrid

A running theme throughout is the rise of the hybrid event, the hybrid workplace, and the tech supporting these changes. Ventura Barba, the Head of Sónar Music Festival, acknowledged in his keynote speech on  June 1 that the pandemic has abruptly taken all of society firmly into the 21st century technology-wise. “Live” industries, such as music festivals, were impacted first. Unable to create a better substitute than the multi-sensory experience of being with someone in person, the event became fully platform-based. Moving forward, this digital layer will be added to the physical one to create a hybrid event. This mix widens the scope for attendees and how the festival (or any live or large event), will be experienced.

According to Avixa, the AV industry was also hit particularly hard by the pandemic because of its focus on large scale events, like music festivals. There are signs that the industry is recovering from a global revenue decline of 8% in 2020, but there are also indications that it will not return to a pre-pandemic level before 2022. While many sectors shifted to digital formats during the pandemic (broadcast, retail, music), the experts believe that the urge to experience things will drive the crowds back to Pro AV.

Following the 90,000 attendees of 2020’s ISE event in Amsterdam, the show was moved to Barcelona for this year in anticipation for an increasing number of visitors, as well as to nurture the connection of art and culture facilitated by AV. Although the usually vibrant display and throbbing crowds were absent this session, the hybrid approach brought a different ISE experience than ever before—no doubt one leading the charge for future large live events.


Smart Working Will Be the New Norm

One thing is sure: Technology has been used during lockdown to augment the experience, and this is particularly evident in the areas of smart workplace and IT where the office equipment industry overlaps with Pro AV. It is currently assumed that, in the future, all meetings will include some remote people or elements. It is exciting to see how collaboration tools have quickly been enhanced the past year to provide the stickiness to bring people together. Watch out for more examples of this as we cover more ISE sessions throughout this month.

Having easy access to video and cross platform technology—like Teams and Zoom—has quickly become the norm, and a capability that is now expected in almost every circumstance. Video collaboration is further widening the possibility of how the workplace functions, as discussed by Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. Not only does the hybrid workforce require that employees are able to seamlessly access their work and video between the office and home, but there is also an outstanding amount of use cases for this video technology. Yuan says Zoom is working to make the most of these hybrid features and “aims to make video better than face to face meetings in the next 5 to 10 years.” We are reminded that technology is what has enabled all the recent changes brought about by the pandemic, as well as the transformations and accelerations caused by it.


New Tech Must Be Sustainable

More flexibility during the working day is all well and good, as long as sustainable initiatives are what is powering them—and where this increased efficiency is heading. Tom Raferty, Futurist Innovation Evangelist, pointed out in the Keynote speech on June 2 that the 2020s is a decade of action, and the 2030s and 2040s must be decades of hyper-action if we plan to reach our wider sustainable goals. Europe, the US, and China have each set incredibly ambitious objectives for reducing national emissions by 2050/2060, with these goals recently becoming law across the EU.

 Raferty recommended first steps for corporations to take to help reach these goals:

  • Mandate all utilities switch to renewable energy (see Re100 for more information)
  • Convert fleet and heat sources to electric
  • Include in RFPs that suppliers report, so they are able to transparently and ethically decide what to source
  • Tie executive renumeration to sustainable emissions key point indicators

These suggestions put our new normal into a greater context, and remind us to remain optimistic and steadfast as we adapt to changes for a better future. To make Tom Raferty’s insight into sustainability the focus of ISE 2021’s day two keynote speech shows the importance ISE and its partners are placing on achieving sustainable goals as a means forward and out of the post-pandemic confusion.


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