A Chat with Mike Blackman on Integrated Systems Europe 2020

Ed Wenck | Oct 29, 2019

ISE has enjoyed year-on-year growth since it began. Does that trend continue in 2020?

Unquestionably. At the last ISE, we had over 81,000 visitors — and we expect more in 2020. In 2019, we had 56,100 square meters of net exhibit space, and that will increase in 2020 by over 800 square meters.

Two important changes for this year are that the Hall 5 extension has been made larger and permanent, while Hall 14 will be the home of a new “Innovation Zone” — a specially designed area for companies that are new to ISE to showcase their technology. The ISE Main Stage theater will relocate to Hall 14 and will offer a full program of free-to-attend thought leadership and best practice sessions from ISE, AVIXA, CEDIA, and AV Magazine.

What’s new in the way of conferences and professional development?

All the conferences held at ISE 2019 will be back in 2020. In addition, we have a couple of new ones — the Control Rooms Summit and the CEDIA Design & Build Conference. Like in 2019, many of the conferences will be held at the Hotel Okura, near the RAI, which proved very popular with our attendees.

CEDIA has a four-day program of training sessions, beginning on the Monday, with a workshop on cybersecurity, as well as hosting free CEDIA Talks in their booth.. As well as its conferences, AVIXA is running 20-minute FlashTrack sessions in their booth too..

What are the challenges presented by the event having become so large?

One of the biggest is ensuring that visitors can easily locate what they’re looking for — and relevant exhibitors can easily be found. One of the ways we’ve addressed that is with the creation of six Technology Zones — for audio and live events, digital signage and DooH, education, residential, smart buildings, and unified communication. The Technology Zones mean that visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology and product trends that are most relevant to their interests.

The ISE app has proved a big hit with visitors, and its wayfinding features are a key part of that.

You mentioned sessions by CEDIA and AVIXA. What is their role with ISE?

ISE is owned by AVIXA and CEDIA, two trade associations with a focus on professional development — so education and training have always been an important part of the show. Another priority for both associations is reaching out beyond the industry, to other stakeholders within AV projects.

Establishing and awarding professional qualifications plays an important part in establishing the expertise of the industry as a whole, as well as demonstrating the competency of the individuals who work in it.

AVIXA and CEDIA are hugely instrumental in helping deliver the outstanding visitor and exhibitor experience that ISE has become, setting the tone and themes for the event and helping us continue to develop and create ever-more engaging content for our channel and various vertical market end-users alike. Between them, the two associations provide a wealth of market intelligence, guidance, and education initiatives, as well as many entertaining and thought-provoking opportunities for development. 

What trends in technology should visitors to ISE 2020 look for?

ISE 2020 will, I think, provide evidence of the rise of LED-based screens. They have advantages over LCD — and prices are dropping rapidly. It will also be interesting to see the progress that OLED technology has made. Visitors should look out too for new generations of application-specific projectors.

On audio: object-based sound will be heard everywhere.

With the move to Barcelona in 2021, ISE 2020 will be the last one at the RAI. How do you feel about that?

The RAI has been a great venue for us for over a decade now, so of course, there’s some sadness: I’ll leave with many fond memories of our time there. It’s served us very well and has been part of our rapid growth to become the world’s largest professional audio-visual event. The downside is that we’ve become too big for a convention center even of the RAI’s size and facilities.