Mike Blackman #ISE20Years interview - part 9: ISE and the industry
What was the systems integration industry like at the time ISE started?
It depends on where you were looking. The US was far more advanced than Europe at the time, but still there was a developing market here, and there was a domination of US companies in terms of the software, the control systems, etc. And obviously from the projector side and display side, it was the Japanese. On the control side, about the only ones then were Crestron, Kramer and Extron.
In terms of the integrator and custom installer side, you saw custom install being quite strong in the UK but not really in the rest of Europe. For systems integrators, it was happening more and more that companies were looking for professional installations, primarily for meeting spaces and the corporate environment.
In the early days of ISE, did people understand what the show was about, what it was for?
The AV channel understood what ISE was. But on the residential side there were some who weren't strongly in favour of the show because they couldn't see was any benefit from a show in Europe at the time, as CEDIA had a show in the UK and it was growing. And I guess most of the companies who were participating there saw their business as being very much UK based. But that changed later.
Do you think that the genesis of ISE was well timed considering developments in the industry?
Oh yes, definitely well timed. But then again, nothing's ever too early. I think we had to start when we did, to establish the show and show why it was there and what the potential was. ISE fits to the marketplace and the industry, and the industry is evolving and changing. There are things that are very strong at ISE now that didn't have much of a chance back in 2004.
"I think we had to start when we did, to establish the show and show why it was there and what the potential was"
If you looked at the video conferencing market at time it was basically two companies, Tandberg and Polycom, and it was all telephone line based – so very expensive and not as widespread as it is now. We've seen communication becoming IP based, which has made video conferencing a lot cheaper, a lot more accessible. The result is firstly that that part of the market has grown; and secondly, those companies find the ISE the right platform.
I don't think you're ever too early. I think in five years’ time it will look different.
Again, there will be things there that maybe don't exist today.
Do you think ISE had a role in driving the development of the AV and systems integration industry? Or was it the other way around?
I think at the beginning, ISE was just the place where a lot of people brought their new products to market. In our first two years, all the product launches were happening at InfoComm in the US in June. What we've seen is a change in the R&D process in that more and more companies are focusing their product launches for January, February.
Now for display companies it makes a lot of sense because they're taking some equipment to CES in the US and then shipping it straight to ISE afterwards. So they are getting in a couple of weeks the opportunity to launch products in two continents. We see the same for our pro audio companies as well. It helps them to present their products in the marketplace.
I think ISE is moving towards a stage where it will start to influence what's actually happening in industry. I don't think we're there yet quite yet. But it certainly gives the opportunity for companies to do market research with customers and potential customers to find out what they want and learn.
Mike Blackman’s five most significant technology developments during the past 20 years
- LED developments, including flexible LED and virtual sets
- The inexorable increase in resolution and pixel count
- Videoconferencing and collaboration over IP
- Immersive audio
- Remote access to networked systems