Like many in our industry, I have watched the NSCA and InfoComm events converge steadily with one another over the past five or six years. With the former seeking to attract more AV industry exhibitors and the latter trying to win over the audio contractor community, it was only a matter of time before the two shows became barely distinguishable in terms of their general appeal.
In the end, the statistics that neither association could ignore were that 78% of this year's NSCA Expo attendees, and 80% of the show's exhibitors, also planned on going to InfoComm. Bringing the two shows together will save our industry precious time, money, and resources. There's just no getting away from it.
Beyond making better use of the common ground that now exists between InfoComm and NSCA, the bigger picture is that we now have a single event at which, potentially at least, the whole low-voltage electronic systems industry can come together, acquire new skills, and do business. The fact that next year's InfoComm is co-locating with an IT and telecommunications show, NXTcomm, will serve only to broaden the event's appeal still further.
What concerns me a little is that, with a substantially larger tradeshow floor and a second, complementary show right next-door, InfoComm in 2008 might just become too big to be manageable. Even this year, in Anaheim, I was struggling to fit in all the things I had promised myself I would do. And I know I wasn't alone.
It's not just a question of scale. One area of business that NSCA has always had close ties to is the construction industry. Chuck Wilson, the association's Executive Director, tells me that the NSCA Pavilion at next year's InfoComm will act as a showcase for some of the technologies that architects, specifiers, and project managers like to see, such as life safety and security products, evacuation systems, and commercial intercom. These are not your typical InfoComm territory and, even if they are located next to the audio pavilion, there's a danger they may get lost in the general mayhem.
Does this matter if the tradeshow merger delivers the value that we all assume it will? Well, yes it does, because if there is one thing that seems certain to drive future growth in demand for electronic systems, it's the trend toward intelligent buildings. Wherever else our industry's freshly consolidated tradeshow takes us, that is one destination we can't afford to turn our backs on.