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3 Observations from my first Infocomm Connected as a BDM for Almo

This time last year I was a few months into my role as Business Development Manager (“BDM”) here at Almo ProAV. I had spent the previous 6 years with an AV manufacturer, and we thought it would be an interesting opportunity for me to share some of my insights from seeing the Infocomm show through the lens of a distributor. This year would have been my 2nd show as an Almo BDM, and the plan was for me to do another post-show recap. Well, obviously a lot of plans have changed in 2020. The Infocomm show went virtual as a response to COVID-19, and for the first time we got to see how an event of Infocomm’s size and scope would translate into a virtual space. Here are some of my thoughts.

The Amount of options felt overwhelming – In a good way

If there’s one thing that felt like it wasn’t missing from Infocomm this year, it was the quantity and quality of things to do and places to see. I’ve been to 6 of the live shows now, and at each one I always had a bit of FOMO throughout the entire event. With trainings happening upstairs, events happening in booths throughout the day, and with so much space to explore – it’s easy to miss something good. One feels like they have to pick and choose where to spend their time because one cannot possibly see and do everything. With Infocomm Connected, that feeling was still very much present. There were trainings happening pretty much all day, and with overlapping schedules in some cases. I found myself having to build my daily itinerary each morning to make sure that I could get to as much of the content that I was interested in, and that wasn’t even including trying to carve out time to visit presenter’s microsites and more. 

It’s very Impressive How Quickly So Many Companies Have Been Able to Adjust

When you think about the wheels that were in motion for AVIXA (and really any company) in Feb 2020 and how those wheels had to be so suddenly turned in a different direction – it’s mind-blowing that there was even a virtual show to begin with. For many, Infocomm planning starts in the fall of the previous year. So to be able to re-direct a show of that scale with that energy and put something together in a few months is truly awe-inspiring. Almo went through a similar experience in coming up with the virtual E4 Evolution show this spring, and I can’t say enough for how hard everyone had to work to put that together. I can’t think of any presentation I saw that didn’t have the “current challenges of our COVID-19 world” front and center. New products have been developed, new marketing strategies rolled and new ideas for solving new challenges are ready to go. No one thought we would be here 5 months ago, but none-the-less we’re back to doing what people in AV have always done, which is figure out a way to make it work and make it better.

Nothing Beats the Real Thing

For all of the things that Infocomm did well, it still felt like something was missing. This is by no means a knock on the Infocomm Connected, so much as it is a credit to the standard that the Infocomm live events created. There were some fun features, like playing music between presentations and some fun transitions we moved through the day. But for me, nothing beats the lights and the pounding music and the 50 foot LED displays that you get from a traditional Infocomm event. Audio Visual, more than most other industries, exists to provide people with experiences. It’s these experiences that drive the manufacturers in the industry to build the best products. We can all talk about the great things that various products do, but the real magic is in seeing the finished product of a fully built out AV system. This is my way of saying that Infocomm Connected was a tremendous success and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how virtual tradeshows evolve from here….BUT, I’m really looking forward to walking the show floor in 2021, if possible. There’s nothing better.

Social Butterfly Thanks ZOOM for the Tiny Taste of Normal during infocomm CONNECTED

Not in my lifetime have I been a big fan of Las Vegas. This June I never missed it more. (I’m one of those rare birds that have only been to Vegas to attend InfoComm.) I’m not a gambler. I don’t party late into the night (any more). I live in Florida, so it’s really hard to justify paying for access to a hotel pool party – I do that pretty much every weekend all year long!

The list could probably go on and on (I won’t blame the Vegas heat, though.  I love the heat).

I was going to do Vegas right this year!  I’d planned to extend my stay after helping with the booth tear-down and stay another night or two so I could experience the ever-famous Strip with my Almo friends.  I wanted to stay out LATE!  I was going to dance and sip colorful cocktails and laugh, and blow on dice for whoever was throwing!

Thanks to the worldwide pandemic we’re all so sick of hearing about, I never even got the opportunity to book my flight.  So I spent the week at home like the rest of us, attending the virtual event that had some incredible content, but none of the smiles and hugs I took for granted in years past.

Early on in 2020 I put together a loose calendar for the Almo Blog.  It takes some effort managing multiple contributors, you know, and I had planned to pen the “InfoComm Social Butterfly of 2020”.  The booth tours, the dinners, the happy hours, the after-hours… even though I’m not a night owl I love it.  I enjoy the networking with our vendor partners, the interaction and introductions with our customers and end-users.  It’s invigorating! 

It was definitely different this year.  The InfoComm we know became a virtual infocomm CONNECTED, thanks to the world we are living in.  (NOTE… you can still check out the virtual replay until August 21!)

Obviously AVIXA and the industry made the right call.  We have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  I know I’m not alone, though, when I say I really, REALLY missed InfoComm and Las Vegas this year. 

So, my “InfoComm Social Butterfly” blog post feels more like a Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me post.  I did manage, however, to find one social highlight.  Normally at InfoComm I attend a happy hour networking event organized by the USAV group.  At the end of the week they hosted a “Coffee and Cocktails” virtual happy hour on ZOOM.  Certainly new to us all, but a way to connect just the same.

Oh, thank goodness for Zoom!  Just 30 minutes, but I met some new people and got to virtually “cheers” some old friends.

Zoom is no substitute for in-person events, but I’ll take all I can get these days.  Thankfully we have Zoom and other platforms that enable us to have face-to-face interactions when we can’t be in-person.  I’m so grateful for that. 

If I didn’t work at Almo, surely I’d have heard about ZOOM thanks to the pandemic, but like my parents and countless others, I’d have had to adopt it and learn how to use it.  The silver lining is the window has been thrown wide open, and businesses and organizations everywhere are open to incorporating this technology into their daily operations.  Almo has experts on-staff who can help our customers offer Zoom Rooms to end-users with bundles that include the hardware and the license for a complete solution with multiple options for different sized huddle and conference rooms.

We all can’t help but reexamine how we do business and how we can learn from this experience and save ourselves time and money when we are living that “new normal” we keep waiting for. 

I wish we’d have been able to connect last week, and I’m (not so) patiently waiting for whenever it’s safe to return to in-person conferences and meetings, though they’ll certainly be different.

Whatever our “new normal” is, I’m ready for it.

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