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A CTO's Time-tested Tips for Maximizing Your Experience at InfoComm

by | Alec Olson

Walking into the exhibition hall at InfoComm is sensory overload. Anything you can imagine related to AV is in front of you, along with many things you simply can’t wrap your brain around until you see it in person. It’s the leading event in this industry, which is why more than 1,000 companies and organizations exhibit every single year.

Manufacturers, integrators and others showcase some of the coolest gear at the show, often unveiling new technologies that’ll grace the industry in the year or years to come. It’s one reason why more than 40,000 people attend InfoComm every year, and it’s also why it’s important to have a plan going into the show. 

Working with AVI Systems Chief Technology Officer Brad Sousa, we’ve compiled time-tested tips to help you make the most of InfoComm 2019.

Navigating the Exhibition Hall 

Get in Front of the Innovators 

Going into the show with the strategy of strictly seeing what’s new is going to end in burnout after just hours. There are so many new devices and technologies on display all the time. You’d be exhausted on the first day. It’s not the right approach if you’re trying to maximize your time at InfoComm.  

Brad has been going to this event since the 1990s and hasn't missed one since 2000. Every year, he makes the time to go, see what’s new, and most importantly, meet the people responsible for innovation.

That's his first goal. Get in front of the people who are dreaming up and creating all of this awesome technology. Get in front of the innovators of InfoComm.

“Think about what you really want to understand in the industry,” he said. “Get a half dozen thoughts and align them with experts who are impacting change related to that topic. Instead of just seeing the tech, take the time to talk to the people behind it.” 

Brad aims to go a layer deeper into the technology to understand how it works and how it applies to real-world application. These interactions and conversations are what make InfoComm such a powerful experience and inform decisions back at the office.

You can go online and get all the specs you want,” he said. “It’s the people connected to those devices that you want to connect with.” 

Pro tip: The best time to get in front of the innovators is when the crowds thin out as the event goes on. Make sure to stay for the whole show – yes, even on Friday – so that you can get more one-on-one time with these people.  

Then, Connect with Your Peers 

Goal no. 1 for Brad is talking to the innovators at the event. Goal no. 2 is connecting with his peers – the people whose opinions he respects most. 

Once he’s at the show, he makes time to connect with his peers to cover one primary topic: What have you seen at the show that you couldn’t live without? 

Typically, the first conversation doesn’t amount to much, he said. But the next day when they sit down for coffee, a world of thought opens that sparks new possibilities for projects and strategies. It’s through these conversations that Brad hears about new technologies that he might’ve missed the first time around – or better yet, he hears about technology that he simply must see in order to believe it exists. 

In the past, that’s been technology like hyper directional speakers to improve privacy and Sony’s Liquid Crystal LED, which just plain stunning. Some technologies function in a way that you just have to be in person to understand. A YouTube video, an article or even a person describing it just doesn’t do it justice.

A PSA to the Brand New InfoComm Attendees 

About every other year, Brad gets to bring somebody to InfoComm who’s never been before. He starts by giving them this single piece of advice:  

Give yourself one big day to acclimate.

"It’s like seeing the ocean for the first time,” he said. “It’s going to take that person a full day to normalize the vastness of it. Then, you go back and whittle it down. 

Aside from the sheer number of people at the show, the demonstrations that go on are next level. You might see musicians on a stage, demonstrating front-of-house audio equipment down one aisle, while the next aisle over has a live broadcast going on. 

That first day, take the time to acclimate to your surroundings, see the landscape, and let it sink in. Because until that happens, it’s hard to fathom all that InfoComm has to offer while retaining meaningful insights that turn into action back home.  

Travel Light, Explore Intelligently 

Everybody has a preference for bringing along essential items to Orlando or Las Vegas, and by extension into the exhibition hall. That could be a lucky briefcase, extra business cards, laptops, or a backpack stuffed to the brim. 

When Brad gears up for the day, he explores the exhibition hall with a seriously comfortable pair of dress shoes and his smartphone. Those are his two main essentials. In fact, he doesn’t even carry business cards anymore. Believe it. Instead, he shares his contact information from his phone, just like sharing your contact card for iPhone users. 

Doing this makes getting around the exhibition hall easier because he’s not lugging around a heavy pack or fumbling loose business cards. His phone captures all the photos and videos he can take, intelligently shares contact information, and weighs less than a large burrito. 

Just think, you’re tasked with walking around a packed exhibition hall for a week to talk with potentially hundreds of people about the latest technology and trends. It’s best to be comfortable while you take on this grand, mind-blowing feat that is InfoComm.

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