David J. Danto
Business Transformation Consultant
Collaboration / AV / IoT / Multimedia / Video / UC
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance
A View From The Road Volume 10, Number 3
In This Edition:
· InfoComm Breaking Records
· Best Attended Sessions In History
· The State Of The Industry From Professionals And End-Users
· My Unique Perspectives
InfoComm 2016 was a record-breaker this year. Quoting from the official InfoComm press release, “1,000 exhibitors, including 211 new exhibitors, filled the Las Vegas Convention Center June 8-10 for InfoComm 2016, occupying 527,105 net square feet of exhibit and special events space — also a show record. Attendees registered for more than 12,000 seats at InfoComm University sessions throughout the week, more than double the number engaged in training and education in 2015. Approximately one-third more unique attendees took InfoComm University™ training at InfoComm than in the past. The spike in training interest was driven in part by the 2,620 seminar and workshop packages sold.”
The surge was so big this year that people trying to pick-up their badge when the expo opened had to stand in a line that snaked around and down the main corridor – clearly a logistical issue that future InfoComm shows will have to address.
Once the attendees could get into the hall, the educational sessions they attended provided a great view of where the industry is going. The IMCCA presented the UC educational program again this year, with classes covering the very hot topics of Huddle Rooms, Security of Collaboration Technology, Cloud Services, Workspaces of Tomorrow, Interactive Displays, and much more. (All of the session presentations and videos of the four above can be seen here.)
The two “state of the industry” lunch and learn sessions were eye opening as well, with Wednesday’s presented by industry professionals - in counterpoint to Thursday’s, where end-users spoke out.
Industry leaders spent a great deal of the time on the Wednesday session detailing how the industry has changed over the years. Solutions in the collaboration space need to be simpler, more reliable, easier to use, more secure and offered by firms and partners that are more agile. (Taking a tiny moment to boast, these are exactly the trends that I have been predicting for five years now. The many players in professional AV that said I was crazy back then have come-around to understanding that this is the only way to survive in the future – or they have gone out of business.) The huge growth of cloud services and adoption programs in the collaboration space were also discussed as trends that smart user firms are embracing with much success. An interesting debate also ensued when the moderator – Ann Earon – asked if the size and stability of partner firms was a fair thing to look-at when choosing a partner. As AV and collaboration firms and manufacturers get bought and sold and others start-up with tiny market shares, should users take their inherent instability into consideration? Many on the panel said no, but the way they sweated through defensive answers said more than their words.
The Thursday end-user panel was also very revealing.
In this session (which I moderated) the discussion began with the issue of “noise,” or the proliferation of different tools for collaboration that overlap one another. “For a lot of end users, as we roll out more and more tools focused on collaboration, the question of ‘which tool for which use case’ is something that pops up a lot,” said panelist Mike Bartholomy, senior manager of information security at Western Union.
The panelists agreed that the tendency of manufacturers to release tools that try to do everything is bad. Most wanted to see manufacturers continue to simplify their offerings and make them more easily usable in a mobile-first world. They didn’t seem to have a problem using different tools from different manufacturers, allowing a best in breed approach. They lamented about how hard it was to try to adapt a collaboration ecosystem where the offerings continue to encroach on existing toolsets. Beyond the debate over simplicity versus flexibility, panelists offered their views on the future of unified communications, touching on a variety of topics such as security, market consolidation, and the continued growth of BYOD.
The coverage of InfoComm by the great teams at rAVe, AVNationTV and LetsDoVideo is and will continue to be awesome this year, so for this View From The Road I’ll omit the things they’re covering and give you some perspectives from the show that they may not be covering.
· Automated camera tracking is on the horizon: I saw a couple of pre-production products this year that use a high resolution or 360 degree capture to capture a full room and use sound and facial recognition to switch the video image to the active speaker. Still webcams are dead, and soon, mechanical tracking will be dead as well.
· The nature of AV integrators is forever changed: As I predicted five years ago (to many in the industry who doubted it) the era of the custom-programmed standard conference room is ending. There is just no reason to customize and complicate the average room when equipment manufacturers and now multiple control system manufacturers and programming houses have simple, standard interfaces that get the average job done – and done with simpler UIs that users far prefer. It was no longer just me saying this – it was echoed by the largest integrators and manufacturers.
· AV Security is a House On Fire: Regrettably, no progress has been made unifying the many core AV manufacturers on a process / method / best practice interval for updating AV components. Many of them (switches, routers, DSPs, processors, displays, etc.) are still not even field patchable by end users. If you think the Harmon/AMX back-door story was big, just wait ‘till one of these AV components is the source for malware that causes a breach in a big firm. There will be no easy recovery possible for the industry after that point. The time for manufacturers to take this issue seriously and do something is now. (Stunningly, my firm is still the only one performing security assessments of AV systems.)
· Displays are growing in size and resolution: Sony clearly won the award for best in show (amongst attendees not actually selling that title to sponsors) for their new Canvas display prototype:
“The display’s light source is Sony’s innovative CLEDIS™ (Crystal LED Integrated Structure) technology, which combines ultrafine LEDs and unique surface mounting to deliver a visual experience beyond any conventional LED array.” You can see some video of it I shot on my iPhone here, but of course that does nothing to truly show the amazing resolution of this display. More details from Sony here.
That’s it for this edition of A View From the Road. My next update will be after the summer. Aloha from my much needed R&R in Hawaii.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has had over three decades of delivering successful business outcomes in media and collaboration technology for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds - including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info. David is also the co-founder of Masters Of Communication. Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems, develop a future-proof collaboration strategy for internal use, or if you would like his help developing solid, user-focused go-to-market strategies for your collaboration product or service.
All images and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.