ISE MD Mike Blackman on the show’s widening appeal
Following our two-part feature focusing on trends in live events technology, IQ caught up with Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) managing director Mike Blackman for a preview of this year’s edition of the world’s biggest pro-AV show, which takes place at the RAI Amsterdam this week (11–14 February).
ISE has enjoyed year-on-year growth since it began. Will ISE 2020 be the biggest and best yet?
Unquestionably. At the last ISE, we had over 81,000 visitors – and we expect more in 2020. In 2019, we had 56,100 sqm of net exhibit space, and that will increase in 2020 by over 800 sqm.
Two important changes for this year are that the Hall 5 extension has been made larger and permanent, while Hall 14 will be the home of a new Innovation Zone – a specially designed area for companies that are new to ISE to showcase their technology. The ISE Main Stage theatre will relocate to Hall 14, and will offer a full programme of free-to-attend thought leadership and best practice sessions from ISE, AVIXA, CEDIA and AV Magazine.
Following the success of our spectacular projection mapping on the nhow Hotel during ISE 2019, there will be another exciting projection showcase on another part of the RAI complex. And we have a dynamic and thought-provoking Opening Address lined up with former Disney executive Duncan Wardle.
What’s new in the way of conferences and professional development?
All the conferences held at ISE 2019 will be back in 2020 – covering smart buildings, XR, digital signage, digital cinema, hospitality, visitor attractions, stadiums and pro audio, plus AVIXA’s two What’s Next… conferences, focusing on enterprise and higher education. In addition, we have a couple of new ones – the Control Rooms Summit and the CEDIA Design & Build Conference. Like in 2019, many of the conferences will be held at the Hotel Okura, near the RAI, which proved very popular with our attendees.
As well as its conferences, AVIXA is running 20-minute FlashTrack sessions on its stand. CEDIA has a four-day programme of training sessions, beginning on the Monday with a workshop on cybersecurity, as well as hosting free CEDIA Talks on its stand.
What are the challenges presented by the event having become so large?
One of the biggest is ensuring that visitors can easily locate what they’re looking for – and relevant exhibitors can easily be found. One of the ways we’ve addressed that is with the creation of six Technology Zones – for audio and live events, digital signage and DooH, education, residential, smart buildings and unified communication. The Technology Zones mean that visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology and product trends that are most relevant to their interests.
The ISE app has proved a big hit with visitors, and its wayfinding features are a key part of that.
“Increasingly, the show has become a destination for end-users”
How has the average ISE visitor profile changed over the years?
Back when we first started, our audience almost exclusively comprised systems integrators and other AV channel professionals. Increasingly, though, the show has become a destination for end users; our exhibitors want to engage directly with them, as well as meeting their existing and prospective channel partners. Today, ISE has become as much of a ‘must attend’ event for end-users as it is for the channel.
How have you made ISE more attractive to end users?
We’ve added substantially to our conference programme over the years, because end-users have told us they get enormous value not just from the opportunity to talk directly to manufacturers and to find out about the products and technologies that will shape their companies’ AV strategy – but also to network and to learn from industry experts and their peers.
Our Special Interest Group programme is designed to bring attendees from specific key vertical market sectors to ISE, helping end-user technology buyers to meet technology vendors and solution partners. They’re the result of formal agreements between ISE and a variety of associations, media partners, companies and consultants, and they’re tailored to meet the information needs of the visiting executives with planned stand visits, presentations, networking events and dinners.
You mentioned sessions by AVIXA and CEDIA. What is their role with ISE?
ISE is owned by AVIXA and CEDIA, two trade associations with a focus on professional development – so education and training have always been an important part of the show. Another priority for both associations is reaching out beyond the industry, to other stakeholders within AV projects. Establishing and awarding professional qualifications plays an important part in establishing the expertise of the industry as a whole, as well as demonstrating the competency of the individuals who work in it.
AVIXA and CEDIA are hugely instrumental in helping deliver the outstanding visitor and exhibitor experience that ISE has become, setting the tone and themes for the event and helping us continue to develop and create ever-more engaging content for our channel and various vertical market end-users alike. Between them, the two associations provide a wealth of market intelligence, guidance and education initiatives, as well as many entertaining and thought-provoking opportunities for development.
“Visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology most relevant to their interests”
What trends in technology should visitors to ISE 2020 look for?
I think we’ll start to see AI permeate a number of AV applications. It’s already being used in digital signage, but many see opportunities for it in other customer-centric applications, such as hospitality. AI is also being used to improve the quality of meetings and collaboration.
ISE 2020 will, I think, provide evidence of the rise of LED-based screens. They have advantages over LCD – and prices are dropping rapidly. It will also be interesting to see the progress that OLED technology has made. Visitors should look out too for new generations of application-specific projectors.
On audio: object-based sound will be heard everywhere.
With the move to Barcelona in 2021, ISE 2020 will be the last one at the RAI. How do you feel about that?
The RAI has been a great venue for us for over a decade now, so of course, there’s some sadness: I’ll leave with many fond memories of our time there. It’s served us very well, and has been part of our rapid growth to become the world’s largest professional audiovisual event. The downside is that we’ve become too big for a convention centre even of the RAI’s size and facilities.
However, I’m also excited. The Fira is a fantastic facility and a much larger space, located in a very attractive destination. The move isn’t simply about growing the numbers: it’s about delivering a better-quality experience to our exhibitors and visitors.
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Live events: the way we use tech is changing
In the first part of this feature, we talked about how millennials are driving change in the live events industry and the effect this has on technology that AV professionals are choosing. In this second part, we’ll look into the ways in which live events technology is changing ahead of ISE 2020, taking place at the RAI Amsterdam on 11–14 February.
With our daily exposure to the wonders of modern technology, it’s getting harder for companies to make a lasting impression with live events. The audiovisual industry is at the forefront of this challenge – integrating new technologies and concepts alongside creativity and originality to achieve engaging events. We talk to the AV industry about how it can help respond to the challenge.
“Capturing the magic of a live event and creating high quality content from it has always been a huge value-add, but one that, given its resource-intensive nature, is often out of reach for event organisers,” declares Barbara Rosseel, strategic marketing lead, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “New technologies will change this. From capture to streaming, digital annotation and AI-powered visual overlays, there are innovations that will make taking the live-action from stage to screen smoother, more straightforward and slicker than ever before.”
While there is no substitute for creativity, imagination and flair in live events, the essential tools for the job are screens, projectors, servers and audio systems. It is, however, as Stumpfl points out, the ideas rather than the technology that should be to the fore.
“It is absolutely true that a live event setup does not have to be technology focused per se, and creating technology overkill should be avoided,” he says. “But the way in which modern audiences enjoy visual media and encounter more and more animated content in their daily lives does create certain expectations at times. Versatile AV solutions can be a key part in addressing and meeting those expectations.”
It’s also important to bear in mind the role of video and audio: to what extent is it the attraction, and to what extent does it support or complement the attraction?
“ISE is perfect for reaching a wide variety of potential customers right at the beginning of the new year”
Industry giants have big plans for unveiling new solutions at ISE 2020.
“The details are still under wraps,” smiles Vertommen, “but what I can share is that we will soon be launching a ground-breaking new laser projector. The product is, we believe, the next step in projection with 50,000 lumens of brightness and will be the most powerful projector we offer. It really is an industry first and without doubt will be one of the highlights at the ISE exhibition. It’s the first time the projector will be demonstrated.”
And, not to be outdone, Barco also says it has some surprises up its sleeve for the show.
“Barco has a complete and dedicated portfolio for live events with our UDM and UDX projection families and our Event Master image processing range,” says the company’s director of product management, IP, Wouter Bonte. “This year, visitors can look forward to exploring our new UDM 20K 4K laser projector for the first time in Europe – and we will have some exciting new presentation switching solutions for live events.”
“Nearly all the major AV technology manufacturers have understood that ISE is perfect for reaching a wide variety of potential customers right at the beginning of the new year,” says Stumpfl. “The variety of cutting-edge products and innovations on display at ISE means visiting this show will both inform and inspire live events professionals.”
For readers looking to find out more about what ISE has to offer, visit https://www.iseurope.org/who-should-come-to-ise/live-events/.
Live events: raised expectations
Much has been written about so-called ‘millennials’ – the generation born between around 1981 and 1996 – and not all of it complimentary.
The reason for the interest in them? Perhaps the most discussed aspect of their behaviours is their preference for experiences over possessions. They like to travel, to eat out – more so than any other generation.
“Today, customer expectations are higher than ever,” believes Thomas Vertommen, European product manager for projectors at Panasonic Visual System Solutions. “We are all used to using technology in our daily lives – so when we attend an event, particularly a big music or stadium event for example, visitors expect something more advanced. There is an expectation that they will be amazed by what they hear, see and interact with.”
“And,” he adds, “the latest AV innovations can make this happen.”
He has an ally in AV Stumpfl’s CEO, Fabian Stumpfl. “It’s an exciting time for professionals working in the live events industry,” he says, “particularly as there are so many ways in which artistic visions can come to life, supported by a growing number of innovative audiovisual technology approaches.”
“It’s an exciting time for professionals working in the live events industry”
Social media is also growing in importance in the sector, with few live events today not taking advantage of the opportunity to reach a much wider audience than those who are physically present.
“Event organisers are looking for that ‘moment’ – experiences that visitors will want to share that will bring more followers, more shares, more engagement and so on,” notes Hanne Page, who is segment marketing manager, events, at Barco.
Creating unique fan experiences
“For today’s sports venue owners, living up to the immense expectations of fans is a challenge,” Mike Garrido, senior product manager, Christie, believes. “This is especially so in today’s digitally connected, technology fluent world. Although the sports themselves always will be the reason fans attend, there is a growing demand for stadium owners to enhance the non-game aspects of live sporting events to create truly unique and enriching fan experiences.”
Here, there’s no substitute for not only knowing what the technology will do today – but what it will enable in the future. To gain that kind of insight takes a special kind of show – and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) is that special kind of show.
“Event organisers are looking for that ‘moment’ – experiences that visitors will want to share”
Taking place at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam on 11–14 February 2020, ISE has established itself as the world’s largest professional audiovisual show. With over 1,300 exhibitors and over 80,000 attendees each year, it represents the full gamut of everything the AV industry has to offer.
Recognising the importance of the live events industry, ISE now features a Technology Zone specifically dedicated to relevant products and solutions, as well the attractionsTECH conference produced with industry resource blooloop. The half-day conference takes place on 14 February at the nearby Hotel Okura and aims to explore the business and technology strategies of live events and attractions.
“The unparallelled scale of ISE means the reveal of new technologies that will transform the live events market is almost certain,” notes Rosseel.
And, as a bonus: ISE 2020 will again feature a demonstration of state-of-the-art projection mapping, beaming images onto the exterior of the Amsterdam RAI exhibition centre each evening of the show.