Show Business– and the Business of Shows

Show Business– and the Business of Shows
  • There are certain things that always prompt one to say "is it that time again?" Like renewing your driver's license. Or, writing the annual pre-InfoComm article– except this year– this year is a bit different.

First of all, the things that I have been railing about for several years will not be the important things this year. For instance, I will not be asking for brighter projectors. For goodness sake, enough with the brightness already. I can read the fine print of my cellular telephone contract just by the ambient light from most projectors. So this year, that is not the deal. On my wall is a framed picture of the first Hughes JVC ILA projector, a 350 pound monster that claimed all of 3000 lumens. Today, I carry a projector in my briefcase with higher output. And, truth to tell, 50K Lumens is only a marginal visual improvement over 35K Lumens anyway. On top of that, today's projectors achieve resolutions and geometries I would have thought impossible only a few years ago. So since I can’t go on about that there will be two issues for this article to address:

One: My wish list. Two: What I expect to see at the show.

As far as the wish list goes, and specifically for iMag products, I think that most of my wishes will revolve around network capability of products rather than the products themselves. Each of the major components in a show is beginning to have the capability of being governed from the computer. The bulk of them are now capable of being managed using internal Web servers. What would I like most between these various products? I’d like to see common standards. I’d like to see the various pages used to govern these products be combinable, or at least have similar layouts, so that using such a system to manage them during the show would be easier. Common standards for networking changed our computer environment completely over the last 10 years. Common standards for networking audiovisual products would change our audiovisual environments in the same way. Both signal management and signal transmission over IP networks is becoming mandatory. And when I say that I do not mean running these signals over cat five cable, but truly running them and switching them as a network. And stop giving me the reasons why that is not easy. The establishment of IP networks themselves was not easy, but was necessary, and we did it.

The rest of my wish list does not revolve around product. It revolves around the way manufacturers deal with and assist their users, dealers and distributors. The large projector companies have, over the past ten years, established programs for the rental and staging company. I would like to see the companies that make cameras and switching systems follow suit. The rental and staging industry has changed radically especially since the economic downturn. Remaining viable as an industry involves new types of relationships with our customers, our suppliers, and our employees. Partnership is the name of the game, and I would like to see more of the exhibitors at the show recognizing that.

What do I expect to see at the show? The answer is– a different show. Manufacturers don’t necessarily wait for trade shows to show their new products. The Internet has changed forever the way we announce products and the product cycle itself is now too fast to wait for tradeshow. Instead, the show, being the place where we all gather has in many ways morphed into a place of relationships as much as products. This year we will also see the entry of much larger companies as the smaller manufacturers in our industry are acquired by larger manufacturers who see our market expanding. So the show needs to become the place where we build our relationships with them.

So, for the first time in many years, my list for the show is not a list of products or technologies but a list of people. People I need to see, people I have questions for, and people who, I’m not sure why, seem to think they need to see me.