Was ISE 2024 a success?
After being home for 24 hours, a look back at the week in Barcelona was warranted. Not only for me and the AVNation team but for all involved in the 20th-anniversary edition of ISE. Tradeshows have various stakeholders, and a successful show comes down to what position you held at ISE 2024.
The numbers of ISE 2024
From a pure numbers perspective, ISE was an unquestionable success. This was the largest audience the show had ever seen. I don’t really care how you slice that. Qualified attendees came in at 74,000. Unique scans were 124,000. The show took 83,000 square meters of the Fira. There were just over 1400 vendors paying to be at the event. All of these numbers would point to a success. Especially if you’re on the ISE, AVIXA, or CEDIA team. A reminder, ISE is jointly owned by AVIXA and CEDIA.
The city of Barcelona certainly benefitted from ISE 2024. That number of attendees means hotel rooms and restaurants getting serious business during the week. ISE has also done a better job than most other shows by expanding outside the venue. From the Llum festival to projection mapping on iconic structures throughout the city. Barcelona has reaped some significant benefits from hosting ISE.
A thread of AV
After a show is done, it’s also a good idea to see if there was a common theme. One thread that I experienced throughout the show floor was Software. I’m going to use that term a bit loosely here. There were very few stands on the show floor that didn’t have some version of software or IT undercurrent lying there. Maybe the cabling companies didn’t have much to discuss.
From microphone manufacturers like Shure and Sennheiser to UC and control platforms like Crestron and QSYS, software was everywhere. For good reason, too. IT directors and tech managers expect their devices to have an underlying tech stack running and available. This is not just asset management; this is full-on deployment and configuration needs. LED companies, show management, and UC technologies all demonstrated how IT departments can implement software made available to make their jobs easier. These AV companies also recognize the need to play well with others. We asked about APIs in nearly every interview. Without exception, the answer was always “Yes”. How deep the API goes is dependent on the company, but every stand that had a software package allowed for other parties to access, control, and monitor through an API.
The success of ISE 2024
When I met with Mike Blackman at CEDIA 2023 he began the conversation saying “this will be the biggest ISE ever”. While I appreciate Mr. Blackman’s exuberance, I stopped him and said he didn’t know that yet. Blackman qualified his statement pointing to the number of square meters and vendors on the show floor. However, Mike was characteristically right all along. From show owners AVIXA and CEDIA’s perspective, ISE 2024 certainly had to be considered a success; financially as well as from a branding point of view.
Vendors are another story. Tell Biamp, Harman, or Sony that there were over 100,000 attendees and they’d most likely be able to tell you they felt it in their stands. However, the true test of whether a tradeshow is a success is realized business. How many new connections were made and what revenue will be generated based on those net new scans? Nobody knows that the week after the show closes. Talk to any vendor at the show in six months and they will start to be able to get a sense. Today, they have no idea based on the metric of revenue generated by ISE 2024.
For the industry, the answer is even more difficult to assess. Blackman kicked off the show on Tuesday with a press conference with over 800 members of the press. In his talk he used the term “your destination for innovation.” It’s a catchy phrase and I appreciate the rhyming, but Mike’s not really in control of that; vendors are. Blackman and his team can do all they can to foster an environment of innovation, bring the people, and put together some incredible industry education. But the innovation happens in the stands.
From that aspect, I would give the show a solid 50 out of 100. Now, if you’re in the States that sounds like a failing grade. Really, it’s a 50/50 statement, not a failing grade. I started the year attending CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show. I’d give that show 40/100. From AI to software to display technology, there were incremental advancements. There just wasn’t really anything that was mind-blowing; i.e. innovative. There were some good iterations on existing technology. Just nothing that I walked out of the show that was remarkable. ISE 2024 was a small evolution of existing technology. And that’s fine. It was a good show in that vein.
ISE back on top
ISE 2024 puts the how back at the top of the heap for IT and AV professionals. Not just with the success of the numbers, but the energy and engagement that happened on, and off, the show floor. From that perspective, the show was a success. AV continues to incorporate more and more of the IT mindset. The argument is over about whether AV is IT. It is, and this show was another example of that fact. ISE 2025 is on track to sell out of its existing floor plan, so vendors feel the value in returning for another trip to Barcelona. After 20 years, Mike Blackman, the team at ISE, AVIXA, and CEDIA have proven the value of the biggest AV show in the world. At the end of the week, yes, it was a successful show. You can check out all of AVNation’s coverage of ISE 2024 here.