InfoComm 2020 Goes Virtual
Working through the Pandemic and Modeling for the Future
InfoComm, the AV industry’s preeminent tradeshow, went virtual this year. Scrapping plans for a large event rollout in Las Vegas, AVIXA (the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association that produces InfoComm) made the decision to organize a large-scale virtual experience. According to AVIXA, over 500 exhibitors were present to share their products, relay their experiences navigating the pandemic, and network with attendees of the event. As themes went, “A Better Normal: Reducing Friction and Finding Our Way in a Hybrid World” highlighted the reality of the world we are living in currently.
“When we made the decision to cancel the InfoComm 2020 show in Las Vegas, the AVIXA team was determined to gather the industry together for an immersive experience of learning, engagement, and networking in a virtual online event.” said Rochelle Richardson, Senior Vice President of Expositions and Events for AVIXA. The event delivered content virtually across multiple time zones and regions…all from a platform called IC20.
The numbers show the organization was successful: Registrations for InfoComm 2020 Connected totaled 23,408 and 41% of attendees were from outside the US. The show featured 495 exhibitors and views of the exhibitor showcases came to 53,433. The show’s live sessions were also highly viewed—totaling 59,662. There were 74 live sessions and on-demand presentations from 67 companies. Live sessions were presented for 11 hours each day from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT to reach attendees globally. Popular topics included conferencing and collaboration; fusing space, technology, and content; trends that have emerged through the COVID crisis; higher education; as well as the state of the industry.
As COVID-19 continues to impact communities and industries around the globe, it has decimated the in-person events such as tradeshows, conferences, live entertainment events, and other in-person gatherings that are the lifeblood of AV manufacturers and dealers.
Impacts of COVID-19 were echoed in multiple sessions during the event as providers spoke of their new normal or, as AVIXA calls it, a “better normal”. In fact, AVIXA sees this as an opportunity for change. If we agree we were in a digital evolution prior to COVID, certainly we have turned the page to an all-out revolution. Lockdowns and quarantines sent people home and AV became the lifeline to each other…our coworkers, partners, vendors, customers, teachers, and doctors. Users see the need for quality audio and video, whether in the home or as workers return to businesses, and the AV industry is poised to provide these services.
There were a host of integrator panels, product briefings, and 2 keynote addresses over the 2 main days—all designed to inspire, educate, and connect. The AV providers often encounter many of the same hurdles the office equipment vendors have as customers and key stakeholders evolve. A changing dynamic and relationship with IT, transitioning from a CapEx model to an OpEx model, accelerated managed services interest and the growth of the Cloud.
Hot topics such as Managed Services, IOT, AI, and a deepening connection to the IT infrastructure were interspersed through many of the sessions. As many of the AV devices have long “connected” as an asset on the network, the necessity to now integrate in a more comprehensive way is on the rise. It also draws attention to how prepared the providers are to handle this growing trend. Consultancy and professional services are at the heart of many of these types of engagements, but the managed services modeling is atypical and requires education, change, and (in some cases) risk. Additional themes and key points included:
- AV’s role in creating a post-COVID world
- Acceleration in technology
- AI and IOT in an AV world
- Services, services, services
- Tackling the “free” solutions movement
In 2021, InfoComm is slated to take place from June 12th–18th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Optimistic projections have the industry on an upswing with the proverbial “W” recovery model. It remains to be seen how well into a recovery we will be; as of this writing, the US has resurging cases throughout the country and states are looking to implement new lockdown and closure activities daily. AV is vital and critical to businesses, especially with remote workers…the question will remain how much of the traditional office business could be lost or pushed out even further due to COVID.