If you’ve never before been to InfoComm, you’re missing out. The show floor offers hundreds of new products for end users to check out. More than that, it offers the ability to meet people in the industry that you might not cross paths with all year. Between training sessions and booth appointment, InfoComm offers education on the AV industry in multiple ways.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy to justify to whoever sets your budget. It’s a show that will cost a pretty penny, but end users that attend will tell you it’s well worth it. Typically, the ROI comes in finding a new product that fits your needs, making connections with manufacturers, and planning for the future of your organization.
“There is no better single opportunity to kick the tires on a wide variety of AV products,” says Jesse Anderson, Audio Video Services Manager at the College of the Holy Cross, and an InfoComm veteran with over a dozen shows under his belt. “The thing about InfoComm is, no matter what you do there’s more products there than you’re ever going to use in whatever it is you do in Pro AV. There are hundreds of manufacturers representing all of the different market sectors, and it’s a great opportunity to get to see a product that you’re thinking of installing in a classroom or a seminar room or, if you’re in corporate, a boardroom.”
It goes further than just learning about products – often you’ll get to break them down with the very developers that created them.
“If you’ve been having a problem or you’d like to see a feature enhancement, many of the manufacturers have their engineering team there on the show floor,” says Anderson.
“It’s all about access,” says Chris Imming, Director of Media Services at Gordon College and another Infocomm vet with over a dozen shows attended. “It’s one of the few opportunities you have to survey the landscape of our industry. With AV/IT convergence and things moving toward the network and the rapid development of technology, it’s really important to see where things are at and where things are going. It allows you to assess your organization’s deployment strategy, to be able to respond to changes in innovation.”
That’s the key of the return on investment for InfoComm. You may not leave the show carrying an advanced audio-video system that is going to solve your organization’s problems for years to come. Instead, you’ll leave with the knowledge of where the industry is heading, so that you can start planning for how to create and implement such a system.
“We know what we’re installing this summer. By the time of the show it’s going to be too late for us to add additional equipment to our cycle for this summer. But it lets us know what we’re going to be doing over the next two or three years by seeing what’s coming down the pike,” says Anderson.
Maybe you’re at the early stages of your career and you’re not being tasked with creating a ten year strategy for technology deployment. That’s alright, you’ll get there. In the meantime, InfoComm is a great place to receive training in order to strengthen your knowledge and abilities.
“It also provides you one of the best opportunities for intensive training,” says Imming. “Throughout the year, with our limited staffing, we tend to be on standby for responding to situations like failures in a room or an environment, or staffing an event. It’s an opportunity to get off campus after a busy year and invest in yourself, your team, and your organization.”
As I mentioned before, the training is great, the products are fantastic, but InfoComm is the only time each year where everyone from the AV industry is in the same place at the same time.
Working in AV is largely about relationships – if you’ve got good communication with an integrator or vendor then you’re more likely to get help with their products in a timely manner. InfoComm is a great place to cultivate and solidify these relationships.
“The other thing it allows you to do, and this is always helpful, is to see the faces on the other end of the phone. Especially if you’re starting out new in AV or moving between sectors,” says Anderson. “You’ll know the people on the far end of the phone call or email, but InfoComm is a good chance to meet them in person and build stronger relationships.”
Products, training, and relationships – you could call these the three pillars on which InfoComm stands for end users. That’s why it can be so fruitful to attend.
For more information on planning for InfoComm, attending the show floor, and tips and tricks from two seasoned veterans, check out the latest My TechDecisions Podcast with Jesse Anderson and Chris Imming. The knowledge they impart is invaluable for any end user attending or thinking of attending the show. Don’t miss out on it.