Editor’s Note: Brittany DiCesare, account manager, Control Concepts, helped with ideating and writing this article.
Given the absence of a reference point, we were left with uncertain expectations and open minds as first-time attendees of ISC West 2022 this past March. ISC West, the International Security Conference & Exposition, is a comprehensive and converged security trade event, taking place in Las Vegas. Attendance estimates fall around 20,000.
Our business is, and most of our experience has been, in the audiovisual industry. So, our first goal was to become comfortable in a somewhat foreign setting. In short, we wanted to avoid being fish out of water! Although the security industry is similar to, and lies adjacent to, AV, it’s still different — different enough that the players, the lingo and most of the exhibiting manufacturers were unique. Unlike at AV trade shows, where our team, our brand and our appearance provide a degree of name recognition and clout, we were incognito to all but a select few.
Valuable Lessons from ISC West
The AV industry is facing consolidation, simplification of solutions, a reliance on a return to in-person work and meetings, and product-delivery delays. Conversely, the security industry has been more fortunate, seeing increased demand and experiencing growth throughout the pandemic. Security integrators report having been busy since the onset of COVID-19. Thus, they’ve kept their team members employed and their businesses moving forward, while experiencing fewer setbacks due to product delays, which their AV counterparts have had to contend with.
There were several promising signs at ISC West, and I hope that they will carry over to the AV industry. First, the trade show itself was seemingly “normal,” exuding the vibe of a pre-pandemic event. Manufacturers exhibited new products and solutions, demonstrating a healthy business climate and a confident outlook. Booths were well staffed, and attendees filled the floor. This communicated optimism and felt like a celebration of business growth. Conversations of innovation and abundance far outstripped talk of product-delivery issues and component scarcity. There were even several sponsored social events, signifying healthy marketing budgets.
Why Companies Like Ours Belong at ISC West
The security industry is infused with a variety of smart devices, many of which have built-in AI; boast an innate ability to collect and recall information; and, most significantly, tout their ability to integrate through an application programming interface (API).
Despite the clear application differences, many similarities exist between the industries in terms of their reliance on a set of common “boxes” or appliances. Most AV systems include microphones, cameras, switchers, wireless and wired presentation interfaces and displays; meanwhile, typical security systems rely on cameras, locks, access readers and video-storage devices. What is consistent among AV and security is that both rely on a set of sensors that provides measurements and senses change; thus, they can trigger activities. Sensors come in various forms to measure sound, light, motion or connections, and all forms can, as noted, trigger activities.
Underserved Areas of Opportunity
I write from the perspective of a software developer who is in the business of creating outcomes by integrating products and systems. I think there are various underserved areas of opportunity. There is the potential to do more to leverage information from security products and triggers from security systems to expand the operation of AV solutions. Additionally, by reducing sensor redundancy in measuring activity and status, systems can become more streamlined and economical.
While many manufacturers promote the availability of APIs, most are not going the extra step of making them seamless and cost effective to implement. That would entail offering middleware solutions, taking the form of drivers, modules, plugins or applications, to allow their products to be easily integrated with others. The easier it is to make products and systems work together, the greater the chance that the silos of building controls — for example, security, HVAC, lighting and shades — can be overcome. Only then can the reality of combining building systems with AV to optimize operations and enhance the user experience be realized.
Our attendance at ISC West provided value in many regards. Of course, it was great to be back in person and among peers in the integration community. However, in addition, it presented an opportunity to meet new manufacturers, learn from and assimilate to a similar (yet different) industry, and identify another occasion where software can bridge the gap by making products and systems more valuable for clients and easier to implement for integrators.
As the AV industry continues to undergo transition to a post-pandemic new normal, AV professionals should not discount opportunities to apply their expertise to related areas. Those in our channel should consider partnering with members of adjacent industries to serve clients and expand solutions. Attendance at events like ISC West can offer AV professionals great opportunities to learn, explore new horizons, build new relationships and grow their business.
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