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InfoComm Introduces Labuskes, State of the Industry, Previews Orlando Show

InfoComm Introduces Labuskes, State of the Industry, Previews Orlando Show
  • InfoComm officially introduced its new executive director and CEO, David Labuskes, to press in New York City while presenting its “State of the Industry” report, as well as a preview of this year’s June expo in Orlando.

The association has ambitious plans for the year between standards currently in development, like the AV Systems Verification Checklist, which Labuskes said was “critical to help the industry,” as well as projects like the smart building taskforce in phase three and the System Verification Handbook, an instructional component to the checklist standard.

InfoComm has nine trade shows worldwide this year, including its first in India, in lieu of the roadshows conducted there in the past. “The industry maturity in that region seems ready for it,” Labuskes commented.

As far as current economic trends go, InfoComm considers the market “good,” the lowest rating since 2010. “Our analysis is market uncertainty,” Labuskes said, concerning the reason for this rating, since the survey was conducted prior to the November election and ensuing fiscal issues in Washington, D.C. The InfoComm demand index dropped to 8 percent in the last three months; however, in the last quarter, the metric increased by 10 percent. InfoComm’s performance index is at 65.7, a 2 percent decline from the last quarter.

While briefing press about InfoComm’s vision and means for creating value for members, Labuskes stuck closely to his prepared remarks, yet he appeared comfortably at ease off-script as attending press peppered him with questions about his personal background, adjustment to his new leadership position, personal vision for the association moving forward, and new ideas he might bring to the table.

A month and just a few days into the job, Labuskes said he hasn’t experienced any surprises, and he noted how “extraordinarily welcoming,” the staff has been.

In terms of his personal vision, Labuskes humbly asserted that he’s a partner in leadership with the board. When asked about new ideas he will put forth, he said, “I will. I think eventually.” He continued noting the strategic impact he’d like to have, asserting, “I plan to be here a long time.”

Betsy Jaffe, InfoComm director of public relations, took the helm from Labuskes to provide an overview of the 2013 InfoComm show, in the absence of senior vice president of expositions, Jason McGraw, who was suffering from the flu.

InfoComm anticipates over 925 exhibitors over some 500,000 net square feet of space and 35,000 attendees, which is a slight tick over 2012’s attendance figures. About 4,500 international attendees are expected, particularly from Latin America and some Asian countries, as the Orlando location typically experiences.

The association is particularly focused on attracting education, corporate, and IT end-user buyers, with a member focus on content creation and helping them get over “content-o-phobia,” Jaffe said.

New technology zones, or “micro-pavilions,” include education technology, content creation, security, and mobile video. Some revisions to past show features include a renamed digital signage conference, abbreviated 3D Comm, a production camera showcase, a more interactive keynote that includes hands-on audience participation. The opening reception has been redesigned to facilitate more like-minded networking with “Birds of a Feather” reception areas, and more subdued music.

The Realcomm and IBcon conferences are being moved to the show floor instead of being “co-located” as they have been in the past in separate buildings or convention center hallways. The audio demo rooms will open a day early this year since they are a show highlight for many, but can be difficult to fit in with the tight schedules attendees typically juggle.

Some of the special events include a touchscreen design gallery, conferencing and telepresence app training, ever-expanding digital signage features, rigging safety demos presented by IATSE for rental and staging professionals, and an installation awards showcase located on the show floor.

Jaffe said they were “adding a ton of tours,” the popular visits to local venues, but they weren’t yet prepared to announce them in specifics.

The InfoComm show is above and beyond known to many for its extensive education opportunities, about a third of which is offered by the association, with partners like SynAudCon offering specialized courses, as well as manufacturer training. Over 3,500 students get training at the show. This consists of Super Tuesday day-long sessions and three-day training Saturday through Monday this year (except for the AV Design Level 3 training, which will be Tuesday through Thursday).

Super Tuesday will feature a new Women in Technology Symposium, which Jaffe said would be a “substantive technical program,” for both men and women. The other sessions will include Unified Communications and Collaboration, a Tech Managers Symposium, Digital Image Content in Live Event Production, CTS-D and CTS-I Symposium, Future Trends, a Business Leadership Workshop, Fiber Optics for the Pro AV Market, and Wireless Trends.

InfoComm is bringing back certification testing at the show, so students can take their CTS exams onsite. In other CTS-related show news, Jaffe expects the next CTS exam prep book will be unveiled.

While Jaffe presented a great deal of information about this year’s InfoComm, there’s much more to come over the next few months as the pro AV industry gears up for its flagship technology, networking, and education event. Stick with SCN for updates and in-depth coverage of every angle.

Lindsey M. Adler is an audiovisual storyteller based in New York.