I’ve learned that one best practice for onboarding new employees is to ask them to keep a “Fresh Eyes” notebook during the first few weeks on the job. It’s a simple journal where newbies can record anything that stands out as noteworthy about the company, its culture, procedures and people. That’s because looking at something with “Fresh Eyes” typically reveals highlights that regulars overlook. So going into the CEDIA EXPO 2012 I’m taking the same approach.
Those of you who know me realize that this is not my first time at the rodeo. In fact I’ve attended all but one, the very first, CEDIA EXPO events. But I did so as a manufacturer’s spokesperson with Infinity Systems, Krell Industries, or Niles Audio. So now that I’m not affiliated with any particular manufacturer, it’s my opportunity to put on my “Fresh Eyes” and report accordingly to you.
Here is what I noticed as I walked the length of the floor, conversing with exhibitors, dealers and sales reps at the show’s opening:
“Everything’s coming up roses.” The very first thing I’ve noticed at this year’s EXPO is a renewed sense of optimism. The show attendees appear more upbeat than during the past several shows. While most people are glad to be back in Indianapolis, I heard that dealers and vendors alike seem to be banking on the recovering residential and strengthening commercial markets to grow their businesses. This feeling was stoked by CEDIA’s newly released market research data reflecting a 5 percent lift in revenues and a 17 percent lift in the number of jobs in 2012 compared to 2011. If you want to know more and are a CEDIA member, you can request top-level findings by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Entertainment takes a back seat.” While everyone says that things are coming back, it’s obvious from booth sizes and locations they’re not coming back to the way things once were. The core mix of vendors has shifted from entertainment based products to networked based control solutions, lighting, shades and environmental controls.The old audio and entertainment based companies, who once dominated shows of past, have reduced their footprints while control based companies, lighting and shade providers continue to expand their presence on the main show floor. Additionally, switching and widget companies seem to be expanding into the control space as well with new IP based, iPad controlled system interfaces.
That’s not to say that entertainment based companies are nonexistent. To the contrary, audio companies are here in force with refined offerings of traditional speakers and amplifiers as well as newly developed outdoor loudspeakers and wireless audio products for single and multi-zone applications. Moreover, there is still a focus on the home theater category with displays of high definition projectors and screens, theater seating, memorabilia and sound panels.
“The bar keeps rising.” The sound-bar that is. Since my roots are audio-centric I can’t help but notice that nearly everybody who makes speakers is taking the sound-bar seriously, and why not? TV’s today look so good and sound so bad that clever marketers are putting a stake in the sand to deliver a wide array of solutions for everything from 32-inch to 90-inch plus flat panel sets. I suspect you’ll be seeing more writings from me and others reporters on this ever-expanding and rapidly growing category.
“Relationships are forever.” On the way to the show I ran into a Canadian sales rep that I used to work with in the past. In explaining that I’m writing this blog for you and asking him what he values most about the CEDIA EXPO, he responded: “Building relationships with vendors and dealers.” And as I walked the floor, bumping into so many of you that I know, it dawned on me that this is truly a people show. Seeing how interactive everyone is in the trainings, the display booths and even the press conferences, I’m truly impressed with the sense of community our industry projects. One filled with people, products and passion for the design and installation process that feeds us all. It’s a good thing!
Thanks for reading, more to come….