ISE 2024 Editor’s Blog: Top Takeaways from Integrated Systems Europe

ISE 2024 was a rousing success for show organizers, but it also offered a glimpse into emerging trends that will shape our industry’s future.

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ISE 2024 Editor’s Blog: Top Takeaways from Integrated Systems Europe

Mike Blackman, managing director at Integrated Systems Events, addresses the gathered media at ISE 2024. Photo by Dan Ferrisi.

Integrated Systems Europe, also known as ISE 2024, the largest global AV trade event, proved a rousing success for our industry community. I’m still on a high after spending a solid week connecting with integrators, vendors, distributors, association personnel and power end users like HETMA members.

Thinking back on the week that was, I’ve reached a few conclusions about where the commercial AV industry stands as we put the pandemic, supply-chain woes, extraordinary inflation and self-perpetuating recession anxiety in the rearview mirror. Although ISE 2024, a joint venture of AVIXA and CEDIA, didn’t include many physical-security technologies, I hope that my takeaways are also illuminating to SSI integrators, particularly as channel professionals seek to “go deeper” with commercial clients by becoming involved in more elements of their technology ecosystems.

ISE 2024 Spotlights Sustainability

First, I have never attended a trade show where sustainability and environmental friendliness received more attention. At virtually every booth, vendors underlined their Earth-centric efforts. This included everything from touting their long-lived products (thus avoiding needless e-waste production stemming from frequent replacement cycles) to iterating on existing designs to dramatically decrease power consumption. The risk, of course, is for sustainability simply to be a buzzword — the equivalent of “virtue signaling.” But, during our meetings, industry members seemed earnest in tying green efforts back to their foundational pillars and ESG framework. And there’s little doubt that Gen Z and Gen Alpha are future clients whose values will strongly influence their purchasing decisions. Thus, as with embracing DEI, adopting a mindset of sustainability makes good business sense. Organizations like Sustainability in AV (SAVe) deserve credit for delivering a compelling message.

Second, although many of us use the phrase “mission critical” rather loosely, we might start doing less of that as the command-and-control market continues its rise in prominence. Even as UC&C remains strong, and even as dazzling technology applications like The Sphere grab industry headlines, our channel is increasingly realizing that control room integration may be on the cusp of a renaissance. Dan Gundry, who serves as Barco’s senior director of control room sales – Americas, is a leader in this effort. He has been critical in nurturing a North American control room group that will be open to all — integrators, consultants, end users and manufacturers — in the spirit of collectively benefiting all control-room stakeholders. In the next several months, the group will officially roll out its name, organizational structure, foundational sponsors, events, etc. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, reach out to Gundry or Randy Pagnan.

Simplicity and Slimmed-Down Feature Sets

Third, I don’t recall ever attending a technology trade show where more people were extolling simplicity, slimmed-down feature sets and ease of use. Having started my trade-show journey in 2005 at NSCA Systems Integration Expo as well as InfoComm, I quickly developed the impression that some vendors sought dominance simply by the size of their spec sheets. A “more is more” attitude seemed to prevail, even if the average user only utilized 20 of 200 inbuilt features. Over the years — but especially at ISE 2024 — that changed. During my visit with Bose Professional (one example of a great many), executives told me they’re focused on delivering tailored feature sets aimed at delivering the experiences end users seek. “Practical and useful” has supplanted “whizbang” as the order of the day. Arguably, this reflects that, increasingly, it’s not avid AV technologists who make purchasing decisions but, rather, IT professionals who do.

Fourth, I’ll state the obvious: In-person events are back and bigger than ever. ISE 2024, for example, attracted 73,891 unique verified attendees from 162 countries. This marks a soaring post-pandemic high. Show organizers have every reason to be proud of their achievement. There’s simply no doubt that, years removed from COVID-19 lockdowns, our industry community still dearly treasures the connections made, demos seen and relationships nurtured at in-person events. The hugs…the #avselfies…the smiles…all these things testify to the joy we feel when we gather as an industry family. That joy is addictive, and I think it augers well for InfoComm, CEDIA Expo and Commercial Integrator Expo on the AV side, as well as for ISC West, ESX and GSX on the security side.

Share Your Thoughts!

So…what were your takeaways from ISE 2024? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please email me at [email protected].

We will publish a version of this blog as the Editor’s Letter in the March issue of CI + SSI.

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