ISE 2023 Day Two Impressions – Seriously Packed Event
February 2, 2023 by Dave Haynes
When Integrated Systems Europe announced it was shifting locations from its longtime home of Amsterdam to Barcelona, there were questions from some quarters about the business viability of the giant pro AV trade show about its ability to attract the same kinds of vendor counts and crowds as it was seeing in the 2010s.
The last show in Amsterdam and the ones held during the pandemic don’t really offer true reads, so it took until this week to see what the pro AV world thought of the shift.
Evidently they like it a lot.
The show had already announced it was the biggest ever, but I think that had to do with overall square footage of booked exhibitor space. I THINK I saw a Tweet at some point yesterday that said Wednesday was the biggest one day crowd that the show had ever seen, but I’ve seen nothing official. The show pushes out the full numbers shortly after it wraps.
Some observers had suggested the show moving hours more away from hubs like London and Paris would lower numbers, but others said fast, mostly modern European transport makes up for hat that. Plus while Barcelona is not what you’d call hot this time of year, I have yet to see a cloud and temps are in the lower teens Celsius (50s F). It’s lovely after a week in very nippy and damp London (which mirrors nearby Amsterdam for weather).
I can believe the “biggest ever” stuff, as holy crap there are a lot of people at this thing. I detailed the painful process of getting into the building on Day One. It was easier, at least for me, on Day 2, but there were long, long lines outside for many – probably those who were not there Day 1 for what is a four-day event.
Some of the reason that the crowds are so big is that it reflects a pent-up desire to finally get to a trade show and see people again, kinda sorta post COVID (we’re by no means post). I also heard from people who say if they get budget for hitting one trade show, it ain’t going to be Vegas for the 30th time or the steam bath of Orlando in summer.
My big Oh Dear moment was getting to the platform at the subway transfer station that gets me on Line 9 to the convention center. You descend down five – yeah five – sets of escalators, and head to the platform. But it was Tokyo at rush hour packed, out the platform door.
I heard people last night talking about a taxi line that was akin to the line to view Queen Elizabeth’s casket after she died last year. Didn’t see that, but it was undoubtedly very, very long.
I use the subway which (whispering) has TWO stops – one outside near the giant event center, and one inside it, that nowhere near as many people know about. Though I left at 5:30, I was back at my VRBO neighborhood – 14 or so stops later – in 35 minutes.
As for the show itself, I spent a lot of the day at the excellent Invidis Summit, even hanging around for the lookahead/insights session, ‘cuz I was on the panel. I was reliably told my insights were actually insightful and coherent. The event was packed … like most things.
There were lots of interesting points made, including the general sense of optimism and high activity levels, even with EVERYTHING going on in the world right now.
My time Wednesday on the floor was limited, but I stopped to chat with a bunch of companies I either didn’t know much about – like Germany’s Accenta, DISE from the Nordics and SignageLab from Prague. I also finally met the nice folks at Visionect, which focuses on e-paper products and beautifully minimal black and white screens that use very little power and are there for information people want and need.
I had a brief chat with a gravelly-voiced Jeff Hastings, whose BrightSign stand was jammed as it always is. Same for Broadsign and for Deneva, a Spanish software company I need to visit. I was also happy to see the folks from OnSign, a Brazil software company that has been at it forever and based on the client stories they told me about, are doing quite well.
The stand for the Dutch company Nexmosphere was also jammed. They build hardware sensors and the toolkits for simple interactive digital signage. Very slick stuff and affordable. Back in the day, when Lift and Learn was a genuinely new thing, the sensor part was a challenge to source and pull off.
I recorded a bunch of interviews I will transcribe once back at World HQ, and the write up.
Plans to do another flying hands TV thing with Invidis fell apart – as scheduling plans got mixed up. It may have been me, maybe them. Doesn’t matter. We’ll try again today.
Tonight is the Sixteen:Nine digital signage mixer, so I need to get my act together for that, and will only dip into the show for an hour or so. I was at a terrific, packed Google-Trison event last night and my voice is already borderline shot.
One thing I want to note: the first foray of Google into the sector had some people who had that “kiss my ring” vibe about them. The ChromeOS people now on the digital signage/Pro AV file are uniformly nice, engaging and eager to learn and engage. I’ve heard the same from industry friends. A nice change.
If you are in Barcelona, see you around. Maybe. There’s a lot of faces here.