I realize it is cliche to write about InfoComm in June (or May or April for that matter). Rather than a standard “what to expect,” I hope to take a slightly different approach to this column. First, I have some advice for the technology managers who are reading this column, then I have some advice for the consultants and integrators as well.
For the technology managers who read this column my major piece of advice is to take advantage of the training and the networking that InfoComm provides. For the cost of a single trip to InfoComm, you can get training in an unbelievably wide array of equipment and products. Any other time of the year, you would have to fly all over the country, spend several weeks away from work, and have a large travel budget, to get similar training. InfoComm is truly a unique and once a year collection of the industry experts. If you are trying to convince your institution to send you to InfoComm because it is a “trade show,” you are taking the wrong approach. I always take the approach of InfoComm as being the least expensive and most comprehensive training opportunity of the year.
My second piece of advice for technology managers is to get connected to others in the same line of work. There are many, many ways to do this. An obvious one is the Technology Managers Council of InfoComm. I have found this council to be the single best source of networking for me. From it, I know dozens of technology managers from across the country. My good friend Greg Brown is the chair of the council. Feel free to contact him with information on how to join. InfoComm is putting on two first time events for technology managers at this years show. One is a networking reception for technology managers. This is something the council has talked about for a couple of years and Greg was able to work with our InfoComm reps to make it happen. The second first time event is a Super Tuesday course titled “Technology Manager’s Symposium.” Included in this year’s lineup of speakers for the event are Tim Albright, Matthew Silverman and the aforementioned Greg Brown. This is a great opportunity to meet some people who have been in the industry for a long time, know a lot of people and can help you a great deal — not to mention they are pretty cool people.
Several of the manufacturers at InfoComm will have technology manager receptions, or preview equipment just for tech managers. Find out where and when these are and attend them. Not only do you get to network, you get an up-close and personal look at the equipment that may not be possible on the show floor.
I would certainly not discourage a technology manager from getting on the show floor. It is a unique experience to be out there and walk around. However, I would caution that it can be very overwhelming, and I think it takes several years of experience to really understand how to make the most of the floor. Everyone has different theories on how to attack the show floor. My only advice about this would be to plan for half a day, or one whole day on the floor, maximum.
This is where my advice for integrators and consultants comes in. You are the experts in this field, and the men and women who know and can navigate the show floor. Why don’t you offer to take some of your clients on a tour? This is especially true for first time attendees. Show them the booths that you think are important to them and represent the themes of current AV technology. Why don’t you use social media, and let your clients know a hashtag to follow as you move around the show floor and see interesting things your clients may use?
The last piece of advice I have for consultants and integrators, is to take the show on the road when they get home. Many technology managers, myself included this year, are unable to attend the show for a variety of reasons. You have dealt with these customers for years. You know what they have used, what they are interested in and what they need to know. So, collect that information and plan a month of June traveling around to visit your customers. Don’t try to sell me everything you saw (don’t try to sell me anything for that matter). Show me the things that pertain specifically to me. Educate me. By doing this, especially at this time of year when our budgets are just about to be re-started, you may be surprised at the orders that start rolling in.
I know some of this advice seems rather basic. But I’m writing it because I have never experienced integrators doing this for my institution, so I can only imagine that it’s not happening for most. I would love to hear from technology managers on what they believe is most important to do and see at InfoComm. I would love to hear from the consultant/integrator side. Are you already doing what I recommend here? Let me know, I look forward to hearing from you.
Scott Tiner, CTS, has worked in the AV/IT field in public K-12, private K-12 and higher education institutions. With a BS in Secondary Education from the Boston University School of Education, he has a deep interest in the use of various types of technology in the classroom. Currently, as the assistant director of user services: digital media, classroom technology and event support at Bates College, Scott designs learning spaces, oversees event support and staging and manages all video streaming on campus. Scott also oversees the Digital Media Center. The Digital Media Center provides support and instruction on all video and audio editing on campus.
Scott is very active in the field, having presented at both regional and national conferences. In 2011, he was appointed as chair of the Technology Managers Council of InfoComm. Scott can be contacted via LinkedIn, on Twitter or via email at email@example.com