A Question Of Tradeshow Scale

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What Reasons Lie Behind The Size Of InfoComm Asia?

As the industry prepares for the Info- Comm Asia tradeshow in Hong Kong, it is all too easy to become distracted by statistics. There’s no doubt that, on paper at least, the event’s numbers—exhibiting companies, total floor area and so forth—are impressive. The Hong Kong show is going to be far and away the largest InfoComm event ever to be staged in Asia, and I have no doubt that attendee figures will be similarly record-breaking.

Interestingly, the InfoComm Asia team takes what I can only describe as a ‘vertical’ approach to its marketing. By this I mean that, in contrast to American and European tradeshows, which tend to focus on the technologies that will be showcased within their halls, InfoComm Asia’s pre-show publicity material focuses on applications. The 12-page Show Preview circulated to prospective attendees organizes exhibitor innovations according

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to end-user market sector—from transportation and security to corporate, education, hospitality, worship, military and more.

In part, this emphasis is attributable to what Fusion Consulting’s Reid Rasmussen, the subject of this issue’s ‘The Way They See It’ interview, calls Asia’s ‘do it yourself’ culture. In this region, end customers are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and co-ordinate systems integration projects themselves, if there is nobody available who is more qualified to do the job. It makes sense, therefore, to promote InfoComm Asia—and, by extension, the AV business as a whole— directly to these end customers in terms they are likely to understand and relate to.

Some might see this aspect of the Asian market as frustrating. Certainly, there are many in the industry— manufacturers and distributors alike—who would love to see more integration companies taking charge of projects. If nothing else, this would be a sign that Asia’s infrastructure was at last catching up with its astonishing market growth. This might happen a lot more quickly than we think, not least because, as Rasmussen points out, there is a whole generation of college-educated engineers about to enter the job market, pretty much everywhere from the Emirates to Shanghai.

At the same time, any U.S. or European manufacturer will tell you that integrators can be a stubbornly conservative bunch—content to remain within their own narrow field of market expertise, ignoring new business opportunities and sticking all too rigidly to the product lines they know.

It is the absence of such conservatism that has given rise to so many ground-breaking applications of AV in Asia. Take large-scale displays, for example—which, as our Technology feature in this issue demonstrates, are being integrated architecturally into the sides of buildings in a way that is rarely found in AV’s more ‘established’ markets. Or, as another of this issue’s interviewees, Richard Nicol, stresses in our Executive Q&A, take a look at theatre design, where the sheer scale and color of Asian performance gives the AV community a huge opportunity for innovation.

For me, this is what is most exciting about the region’s relationship with systems integration. Yes, we probably do need services to make up a bigger percentage of the average AV project’s value. But if that happens— and I’m sure it will—I would hate to think that Asia’s capacity for experimentation would start to be sacrificed at the altar of qualifications and contract paperwork.

As we wander through the aisles of InfoComm Asia, we will no doubt be struck by the breadth of technology on show, and we may well have cause to stop and gawp at innovations that truly raise the bar of what manufacturers can achieve. But we should never forget that the customer is king, and that it is the customer’s appetite for novelty that has made the show the size it is.

Enjoy the issue—and the show.
—Dan Goldstein
Editor-At-Large
dgoldstein@nbmedia.com

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