ISE Day 3 Impressions – 2024 May Well Be Biggest Version Ever

February 2, 2024 by Dave Haynes

Three days down at Integrated Systems Europe, and one more to go. A healthy chunk of the attendees will have already headed home last night or this morning, so the event center here in Barcelona should be significantly quieter.

I have heard numerous times now that this edition will beat all-time attendance records – surpassing the numbers from when the show was in Amsterdam. I can believe it. Day three, particularly in the center hall where many of the biggest display companies are located, was jammed at its center even at 3 pm.

Many observers suggested the shift to Barcelona would mean lower numbers because the city has fewer direct flights than Amsterdam, and can’t easily be driven to by people in countries like Germany, France and the UK. But it is in the mid teens Celsius here and mainly sunny, and the city is gorgeous to see and walk in the off-hours.

The only complaint I had about Amsterdam was the Rube Goldberg-designed host facility, with many kinda-sorta connected buildings that would be a nightmare for people not good with directions. I’m sure there is good Dutch food, but I had one go-to place for dinners in that city, and there are 1,000s of options here.

Plus wine. So many great reds and cava.

Oh yeah … technology.

While Day 2 was mostly spent in conferences, Day 3 was spent running around ticking off a list of stands I needed and wanted to see, as well as those of companies who were asking me to come by. So I spent a lot of time in hall 6, the location for many of the CMS software and media player companies.

Next year, I was told by several people, it will be Hall 4 – closer to the entry and the busy Hall 3 where the biggest tech brands are located. I haven’t heard the official reason, but was told there were complaints by vendors that not all attendees were finding their way to what is, with audio, the hall furthest from the main entry.

From my perspective, if people come to a trade show serious about finding a software provider, they’ll find the hall where the companies are positioned. If I am an exhibitor, I don’t need to spend time with people who are just curious.

The big software story and the topic of much trade show chatter is Samsung’s formal launch of VXT, its successor to its MagicINFO CMS software. It has been previewed and talked about since last year, but now it is being actively marketed and was demo’d at the booth.

A lot of the discussion centered around Samsung now directly competing for business with companies who were called their software partners, and a few of the display guys I know said they were hearing from CMS companies who were basically saying Samsung was now dead to them as a display supplier.

I had a 45-minute chat with a senior US guy heavily involved with the product and I will write that up when I have much more time than available while here in Barcelona.

The elevator ride version is that VXT is positioned as a product aimed at the long-tail small to medium business market that a lot of  CMS software companies start off in. But as they mature, they mostly leave SMB in pursuit of larger and much more lucrative and easily managed enterprise accounts. The idea is that functionality apps sit on top of a core CMS and device management platform, and users can subscribe to the app via Samsung’s store while also subscribing to the VXT platform.

I have many thoughts, but minimal time right now. I get it, given display sales and margins are just getting tougher for Samsung because of the emergence of Chinese competitors. But the SMB market is very needy and can be a nightmare to support. I use the analogy that a three branch credit union somewhere can have more questions and support needs than a 300-store enterprise retail account.

Much more later.

I also have a chat set today with LG, which has launched its own variation called Business Cloud. Somebody needs to sit the people in Seoul down and have a heart to heart about innovation, versus “emulating” its Korean rival.

There were reasonable expectations that AI would be a big topic of discussion and marketing among digital signage exhibits, but I have seen little evidence of that over three days. Much of that owes to it still being early days, I am guessing.

The French interactive software firm Intuiface showed me an interesting application of its for accelerating the development of write interactive experiences, removing a lot of the time spent putting them together by using ChatGPT prompts.

But that’s nerdy, behind the scenes stuff.

What was very visual and customer-focused was the AI-driven voice ordering platform developed by London’s Sodaclick. They have been around for five years and started out offering HTML5 content creation capabilities. But they pivoted because of the emergence of tools like Canva, and have spent the last four years working with AI LLMs to develop a system for scenarios like drive-thru.

It is sufficiently mature and impressive that it is among the products showcased in Google’s booth. The quick demo I saw very adeptly handed all the ambient noise and multiple voices in the exhibit hall, and managed my cheeky attempt to order a glass of wine at a drive-thru. I asked about accents and they said it will deal with even the most impossible ones, like the baffling ones in Glasgow, Scotland (lotsa Scottish DNA in me, so take no offence Weegies).

Looking at time and thinking I need to shower, dress and roll.

Last observation for now. The Fira event site put in a big Muxwave almost transparent, super skinny and (NOT) holographic display in the big glass curtain wall of the main entry. On Thursday, I saw ads for exhibitors on there. It’s the best example I have seen so far for putting this stuff in for reasons other than eye-candy and Wow. If the events venue and shows that it hosts use it repeatedly for that sort of thing, it should pay for itself quite quickly.

Gotta bolt. If you are heading home, safe flight, ride or drive!

Going to Porto tomorrow for a working holiday, and to rest my overwhelmed brain and achy knees and back.

Here are three video interviews I did with Invidis this week.

  1. Marcus says:

    Always honest and insightful reviews. Thanks Dave. Keep up the great work..

Leave a comment