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Dave Labuskes: IC20 is the time to bring virtual engagement into the physical space

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In the run up to InfoComm 2020 Connected, AVIXA’s CEO talks with AVNation about how the virtual show underscores what AV integration is all about

The pivot from the in-person show that is InfoComm to the virtual InfoComm 2020 Connected (IC20), kicking off from June 16 to 18, has been accomplished as smoothly as time and the COVID-19 pandemic would allow. The decision to go ahead with a virtual iteration of the much loved AV integration show was necessary and inevitable as the industry continues to look for innovative ways to maintain the human connections and networking that our events allow and still deliver the products and trainings that help us to thrive.

In the lead up to IC20, AVNation spoke with AVIXA’s CEO Dave Labuskes about the journey from Las Vegas to virtual, how it was accomplished in such a short time, and what virtual attendees have to look forward to during the three-day online show.

AVNation: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for AV-focused trade shows and events. I know you and your team wrestled with how InfoComm 2020 was to proceed in the early stages of the pandemic. How did you land on a virtual event? Can you take us through that problem-solving process?

 Dave Labuskes: Even under the current circumstances, could you imagine a year without InfoComm? Neither could we.

It was certainly a challenge in the lead up to cancellation of the show to balance the daily changes and news updates with a forecast of where our country would be by June and the availability to travel and successfully host an event. The safety of our exhibitors, attendees and staff have always remained a top priority.  With the continued ambiguity about the future, it was a tough decision to make in March.  We understood that our community relies on not only the learning, education and social aspects that InfoComm brings together but also the marketplace that brings both buyer and seller together. That was truly the birth of InfoComm 2020 Connected.

 AVNation: What was the reaction from your vendors and partners to this reconfiguration of InfoComm 2020? How did they help in landing on the format and lineup you achieved and expect to showcase in June?

Labuskes: Our community has been nothing, if not vocal and we love them for that. The request for virtual content has been a long time coming and COVID has been a spur to accelerate this across not only InfoComm but all that AVIXA has to offer. It has been a learning experience not only for all of us across the audiovisual industry but for the world as a whole. It is a time to accelerate and to deliver on a digitally enhanced normal — a better normal.

We took the time to survey our attendees and exhibitors, and they responded overwhelmingly with requests for technology, new products, audio and digital signage sessions, trends reports and education built for live events professionals. Although it would have been impossible to bring the 300-plus sessions that were planned for InfoComm to life for Connected, we have three packed days of content, education, networking and most importantly a marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers.

AVNation: How does AVIXA plan to reinvent or reimagine the show floor during IC20? What are some features of the show that we haven’t seen in a virtual large-scale event before?

Labuskes: We are excited to be bringing something so large-scale together. I am sure we are not the first, but we do feel like we are on the forefront for the future of the industry. This is far more than a series of webinars or on-camera meetings …  this truly is an experience. Attendees will be able to check out:

  • Product spotlights and virtual booths
  • Live exhibitor presentations
  • Matchmaking, virtual meetings, and live networking
  • New tech lightening rounds
  • Virtual keynotes, thought leadership spotlights, and technical sessions
  • Global programming and AVIXA council events
  • Attendee driven Q&A
  • Live group chats and networking
  • Peer engagements

In addition to the types of content available, we are also taking advantage of the global nature of virtual events and have scheduled to accommodate a global audience. From 6 a.m. until 10p.m.eastern standard time, we are looking to bring EMEA and the APAC community into the InfoComm fold with both time zone appropriate and in-language content.

AVNation: What impact do you think this virtual presentation of InfoComm 2020 will have on future InfoComm shows and events, especially post-pandemic? How is this reshaping how you and your team plan and structure shows and events?

Labuskes: I believe our commitment to the industry is to extend InfoComm into a global digital presence where people can come together wherever they are in the world and to teach each other. At AVIXA we have always seen ourselves as a trusted hub for the industry, and today that hub is transitioning for a newly invigorated digital and physical world.

Like many of our members, we have found ourselves moving at a rapid pace of digital transformation. It’s more than Zoom meetings and webinars – it’s an entire transformation to the way our industry connects.

  • Education retooled and searchable by not only skill but market and industry
  • Thought leading content from subject matter experts that connects the supply chain and the interweaving experts from design, architecture, systems integration and content
  • Market intelligence that guides your business today and into the future
  • Expertise that brings direct buyers and end users into contact with industry experts
  • Community development bringing together like-minded peers from across the industry

Yes, there will be webinars, podcasts, videos and virtual content – but there will be strategy that connects our industry and the many experts who help to bring true experience together with best in class standards, innovative products and expertise that you can only get from industry experts. 

AVNation: What are some sessions, presentations or show features that you especially want attendees to zero in on?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
4:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Your Socially Distant Workforce
The post-COVID event environment will require a different workforce deployment than in the past. Event vendors will have to find methods for providing adequate numbers of not only qualified, but certifiably healthy event staff. What happens when your number 1 tech is turned away from the work site when they can’t pass the health check?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Seven Things You Need to Know About the Future of Workplace Design
A team of designers presents their list of things technology experts need to know about the future of workplace design, especially given the current COVID-19 crisis. Examining technology trends through a design lens, what catalyzing factors should the industry keep in mind as they outfit an evolving array of workspace?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
2:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
The State of the AV Industry
The State of the Industry Address is an overview of the latest research from AVIXA on the expected trajectory for the pro AV industry over the next 5 years. Sean Wargo, AVIXA’s Sr. Director of Market Intelligence, will use findings from numerous resources to highlight areas of stronger or weaker growth coming out of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Thursday, June 18, 2020
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Rebuilding Revenue in the Wake of COVID-19
The AV industry has been leading the charge in helping communities and businesses continue to connect and thrive in the era of quarantine. In this attendee-driven Q&A, learn how integrators have extended empathy and generosity to their customers in this time of crisis and discuss how, as some states and regions begin to reopen, they can rebuild their revenue streams without damaging those relationships. 

AVNation: What takeaways would you like IC20 attendees to experience and apply post-show?

Labuskes: At AVIXA we know it is a different job and a different world than the one we knew just a few weeks ago, but AV as an industry is prepared. Our transportation hubs will need to keep travelers moving, hotels will need to provide distanced experiences for public spaces, and retailers will need to differentiate the in-store experience from the online – all of this while helping consumers to feel safe. AV was made for this.

The same will be happening in sporting events, and the many public spaces that we will once again start to visit. This is the opportunity for our industry to bring virtual engagement into the physical space, to overlay the virtual with the physical. We have figured out how to connect the back of the room to the stage and now it is time to extend the back of the auditorium to the next town and even the next country — and bring that connection back to the stage. This is the experience of AV, this is what we were made for.

I hope attendees will learn from experts, learn from their peers, and I hope they bring their reinvigorated spirit to the better normal — the normal that brings the physical and digital together in the way that only AV experts can.


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