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David J. Danto

 

Principal Consultant, Collaboration/ AV / Multimedia / Video / UC

Dimension Data

 

Director of Emerging Technology†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance††

 

eMail: David.Danto@DimensionData.com††††† Follow Video & Technology Industry News: @NJDavidD †††††††††

(Read Davidís Bio)†††† (See Davidís CV)††† (Read Davidís Other Blogs & Articles)

 

InfoComm Bound Random Thoughts

Jason McGraw's photo.I and many industry colleagues are in the process of preparing, packing and / or heading to Orlando next week for the 76th InfoComm Conference and Expo.If you donít know it, InfoComm is the largest, most comprehensive and best attended professional audiovisual and communications trade show in the U.S. Ė with around 40K attendees every year.

As I get ready for what is simultaneously one of my favorite and most exhausting weeks of the year I like to reflect on such ideas as industry buzz, milestones achieved, past shows, and things of that sort.Rather than have them just rumbling around in my head I figured Iíd put a few of them down in a blog so that I can burden friends and associates with reflecting on them as well.Some of these may be controversial enough to make you stop and think for a moment.Thatís the point.Whether you agree or disagree, if Iíve given you something to think about, that has to be good in the grand scheme of things.Here they are in no particular order:

 

       What The Heck Do You Do / Make?I attend a lot of conferences.I walk a lot of expo floors.Nothing is stupider than a huge booth / exhibit with palm trees, fast cars, pretty people in model clothing and similar things meant to be eye-catching -- with absolutely no clue what the firmís product or service is.Exhibitors have maybe eight seconds to visually tell people why they should stop at their booth.If they blow those eight on flashy images people donít stop.A simple black on white sign that says ďWe make the best screwdriver/projector/display youíll ever seeĒ will want people to stop and see more.That is so amazingly simple that I canít fathom why many exhibitors donít get it.

       Sexism Is Offensive Ė All Sexism.Booth Babes have no place at InfoComm.Bravo to us that we finally have greater awareness of that now.Regrettably, neither does a Women in AV movement.As beneficial as the intent is, it is as offensive to me as a Catholics in AV or Caucasians in AV might be to others.As an industry we should not be celebrating any special group.We should be celebrating the best and brightest contributors regardless of labels.Itís sad that we try to compensate for inappropriate past recognition levels of the contributions of one class of industry participants by inappropriately recognizing only one class of industry participants.

       Get Used To Orlando Every Other Year.We get this debate every year.Why canít they hold the show in Vegas every year?Vegas is better/cheaper/etc.Personally, waking-up in Orlando in June with so many layers of humidity condensation on the hotel room window that I canít see out of it is about as bad as I can think of for a venue.In fact, in past years Iíve parked in the lot behind the Orlando convention center first thing in the morning, and by the time I walked to the expo floor I needed to shower and change again.However, regardless of any rumors to the contrary, this is not changing.There are large numbers of InfoComm attendees that canít make it to the west coast or are forbidden by employers to attend conferences in Vegas.Their needs will be met every other year - period.Orlando is the only east-coast venue that makes sense from a dozen logistical angles.If youíre still convinced the rumors are true then you should look at where InfoComm posts their schedule years into the future Ė with contracts signed to cover the venues.

       Stop And Congratulate Ken.There are not very many people in our industry that are universally liked and respected, so take the time to recognize one of them.Ken Zorzi of KBZ will be attending his 40th InfoComm show this year.Of course it was called NAVA back then, but its 40 years just the same.Ken and his organization have filled a crucial role for the AV and Collaboration industry.As AV moved from projectors to complicated and expensive collaboration systems, many of the small to mid-size AV firms didnít have the resources to stock supplies of conferencing / collaboration equipment, and didnít have the expertise to configure and install it.KBZ enabled hundreds of firms to access both the needed equipment and expertise while being content to sit in the background, invisible to most consumers.Here is an article his firm wrote upon his 39th year last year.On his 40th anniversary of joining us Ė and doing so amidst family commitments and life changes Ė everyone should stop by the Cisco booth (#2921) and give him a well-deserved pat on the back.

       Show-Up Or Shut-Up.If you are a manufacturer in AV or Collaboration and youíre not willing to be at this event to let people see your products / services side by side with those of your competitors then youíre dead to the world.Nobody is saying you have to have the largest booth or throw a party.A simple 10x10 booth that says you feel strongly enough about what you do to make the investment in time and resources is essential.Exhibiting in the past but choosing not to now says to everyone that either you canít afford to be there anymore (huge red flag) or youíre afraid of the comparison to competing firms (huge red flag.)†† It very correctly should affect usersí buying choices.I send my clients an annual list of firms that stopped exhibiting and strongly advise against doing business with them because of the potential red flags.Iím sure others do too.No one should care how much you want to compensate for it with independent efforts or supporting other conferences in other venues.Show-up or shut-up.

       A High School Diploma Comes In Handy.Those of us that graduated from High School heard in history class that people who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.I hear there is a new, very high end interactive display being shown at the conference this year, specifically intended for the corporate enterprise.That shows me that we again have a manufacturer that was too close to their product to care to investigate the history of the marketplace.Even the existing manufacturers of interactive displays know that complex products have not been successful anywhere other than in the classroom or lab Ė and these firms are now producing much simpler products for the corporate market that are seeing success.Hereís a link to a simplified, pictorial history lesson (PowerPoint in PDF) that details the history of interactive displays in the enterprise.Hint to manufacturers:I do offer my consulting services to companies to perform market research and give independent evaluations.Iím sure many others do to.In high school we were also advised to spend a moment considering if our assumptions were wrong.Whoda thunk High School would come in so handy?

And finally, one important piece of advice I remind my colleagues of at this conference is to keep an open mind.If all you do is spend time with the vendors and products you know then you wonít have gained very much.The parties and concerts and dinners with your current suppliers may be fun, but they donít help you grow.You should attend classes, visit vendors you donít know, and generally spend time out of your comfort zone.The speed of technology disruption is faster than it has ever been before.If all you do is what youíve always done Ė even if it has been successful in the past -- it is likely that the next new thing will shake-up your world (and not in a positive way.)Speak with peers at other organizations, find-out what is happening in their world -- learn from each other.†††

Have a great InfoComm 15.I hope to see you there.

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This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies 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 IMCCAís 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.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 image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.