With InfoComm 2014 safely in the rearview mirror, behind a record-breaking attendance of 37,048, it’s time to reflect on what we saw—or didn’t see—at the show and consider how it can be a better show when it heads back to Orlando in mid-June 2015.
The first thing I wanted to see when I got on the trade show floor was Microsoft’s behemoth of a booth, which apparently was trimmed significantly—possibly in half—at some point between when the IT giant signed on as a platinum sponsor and when the doors to the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center opened to the gathered throng.
I’d written about Microsoft’s plans for their booth about 10 days before getting on a plane and heading to Sin City, but I still needed to see what was there and made a point of being there at 9 a.m. on the first day of the trade show.
It was underwhelming to say the least, with the most popular feature during the three days of the show being the Perceptive Pixel displays that were showing World Cup soccer games—and the accompanying couches for fans of whatever teams were playing to rest their weary bones for a bit.
I came back to the Microsoft booth a few times during my time on the show floor (partly to charge my iPhone) and never ran into anyone from Microsoft in my time there. Their PR person had told me before the show that Microsoft execs would be walking the show floor meeting with partners and clients, and apparently that’s what they did…or at least they did something other than stand in their booth waiting for people to stop by.
“They were there just putting their toe in, trying to find out more about our industry,” says Betsy Jaffe, vice president of communications for InfoComm International. “They were just trying to feel their way through.” Jaffe says Microsoft expressed an interest in returning for the 2015 show but hasn’t signed a contract yet.
For those who were unimpressed by Microsoft’s booth, Jaffe reminds them Cisco started its InfoComm show life in a 10×10 booth before coming back “in a big way” the following year. That’s not to say Microsoft will follow suit, but if the rumors are true Microsoft’s planned launch wasn’t quite ready for this year’s InfoComm, perhaps we can expect to be “blown away,” as AVNation‘s Tim Albright put it, in 2015.
While many—including me—were critical of Microsoft’s lackluster InfoComm debut in Vegas, the mere fact they realized they should be part of the show at all has to be seen as a positive, even though some wondered why Lync didn’t play a role in their booth, which was smack-dab in the middle of the collaboration area.
For as long as most in the industry can remember, the convergence of AV and IT has been discussed, dissected and analyzed. This was the year we saw that convergence come to life, even if the sprouts we saw were smaller than the beanstalks we might have wanted or expected. Whether it’s Microsoft back for more or another IT giant (keep reading) staking their claim, IT realizes AV’s importance in the future of technological breakthroughs and advancement.