Launched in 2004, the annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) trade show has gradually evolved to become a must-visit for the professional-AV and systems-integration communities. Its growth in the last few years, in particular, has been phenomenal, with more than 51,000 attending the event in 2014 – representing a 15 per cent increase on the previous year alone.
Steering the development of the show throughout its history has been Integrated Systems Events managing director Mike Blackman. A few weeks before the 2015 edition, he sat down with PSNEurope to discuss the gradual broadening of the visitor base, new features for pro-audio visitors and the likely implications of moving to a four-day format from 2016.
PSNEurope: In terms of the attendee mix, what has been the greatest single change witnessed in recent times?
Mike Blackman: When we started ISE, most attendees were channel-oriented. Now, increasingly, we get more and more end-customers coming to the show, particularly from the commercial sector. For example, we have observed that it’s very powerful for integrators to bring their customers to a show like ISE and see products and solutions in situ; in just a few days, they can really obtain a great overview of what is possible.
The result is that we work very closely with integrators and manufacturers to actually speak to their customers or potential customers, and encourage them to attend the show. One way in which we do this is to operate several hosted buyer programmes to highlight customers who may not be able to afford to attend the show, and then sponsor them to come.
What are the main differences that attendees will observe between the 2014 and 2015 events?
They will notice the continuing evolution of the on-floor theatres that we started in 2014. The aim with these is to give some real enhanced content to the exhibition. I like to use the analogy of the exhibition resembling a magazine. You might say that the exhibits are like the advertising, and we as the organiser need to deliver the editorial. So the objective with the on-floor theatres is to deliver even more content free of charge.
Last year we had two of these spaces, but for 2015 we have three: Commercial Solutions, Residential Solutions and Unified Communications. In each space, visitors will be able to benefit from a wide variety of interesting presentations, unbiased information and balanced case studies.
What should attendees from the world of pro-audio look out for?
First of all, there are a number of new or returning exhibitors with audio product ranges this year, including Autonomic, AEQ, Frank Audio, RCS Audio Systems and Apex. Show visitors will also notice a much bigger presence from Harman following on from its acquisition of AMX; their stand will now be the first one you see on walking into Hall 1.
In addition, there are some great audio-related sessions taking place in the Commercial Theatre. At 16.00 on the Tuesday (10 February), Thomas Kraupe, director of the Hamburg Planetarium, will discuss the recent deployment of Shure Atmosphea 3D sound technology at this very popular visitor attraction. Also in the Commercial Theatre, CIE-Group field sales director Kevin Sherwood will explore the extent to which the market is ready for audio-over-IP in a session scheduled for Thursday (12 February) at 15.00.
Turning to the InfoComm training programme, I would draw attention to a session by Lectrosonics’ vice-president of sales, Gordon Moore, examining different options for digital audio protocols (10 February, 16.00). Then there is RH Consulting founder Roland Hemming’s ISE exclusive session, entitled Better than human music mixing – live music auto-mixed for the 21st century, to be presented in association with Korean Advanced Technology Research Group. The session will comprise an introduction to the automixing technologies involved, a demonstration of the system mixing music and a discussion segment on how this technology will be used and how it will impact the audio market.
More and more people from an audio background are attending the show, so the above sessions form part of our efforts to provide them with more content.
From 2016, the show will run for four days rather than the current three. What do you think will be the impact of this change?
There has been a lot of pressure over time to extend the show, and for a long time we felt that we did not require it. But the fact is that the show has grown dramatically during recent years; for example, on the final day last year we had more people through than attended the entire show in 2008.
There were really only two options for dealing with the growth of ISE. One was for companies to take larger booths in order to deal with the demand, but although that might be OK for the larger firms, a lot of the middle-sized companies were already maxed out in terms of personnel so taking more space would not have helped them. Not that adding more space would necessarily have been an option anyway; we are in a sell-out position this year.
Adding an extra day started to look like an option when the operators of the RAI did some juggling around with the schedules. We approached exhibitors about the possibility and it was clear that most of them wanted it – so that’s what we will do starting from 2016.