Show report: InfoComm Middle East and Africa 2014

As ISE increasingly attracts visitors from outside Europe many questions have been asked about whether there is a need for InfoComm MEA in Dubai. Now, in its fourth year, Anna Mitchell believes it’s starting to answer them.

This year’s InfoComm MEA show, serving the Middle East and Africa markets from Dubai, was held from October 13 to 16, 2014. That’s one day shorter than its previous iterations, which had doggedly followed the dates and timings of the collocated, established and sprawling GITEX Technology Week.

From an exhibitor’s point of view this was a welcome break. And - given that one of the greatest positives to be drawn from the show was that visitors came with clear agendas, project wins and money to spend – it’s probably safe to say that the show didn’t suffer from loosing any accidental visitors straying from the busy halls of GITEX.

Visitor figures were not available as we went to print but the almost unanimous feeling was that attendance was up with a great deal of interest in education sessions.

Rob Moodey, sales account manager at Matrox, delivering a workshop on video scaling technologies for InfoComm University, reported packed sessions and noted that the region seemed hungry for knowledge.

It’s a story echoed by Biamp Systems and Crestron who both run regular training sessions in the region, the latter from its new Dubai facility. Both reported that classes were booked up well in advance throughout the year.

Martin Bonsoir, EIMEA applications engineering manager for Biamp, said the company’s education push had really begun in earnest the year before. The company ramped up its in-person training to tackle a perceived lack of knowledge concerning Biamp products and the benefits of networked audio systems. One year on, the sessions are still oversubscribed and he believes the push has resulted in project wins for the company.

Vincent Philippo, Crestron MEA regional director, said an increasing number of large scale projects, such as new universities, are demanding increasing numbers of skilled integration staff putting greater pressure on the company’s training sessions.

Indeed much of the buoyant mood at the show was due to increased spending in the region. The UAE and Saudi Arabia were pinpointed by visitors and exhibitors alike as regional hotspots with parts of Africa starting to pick up pace as well.

Alistair Duthie, regional manager for the Middle East, UK and Ireland at Mitsubishi, was extremely positive regarding an upturn in business in the region as he showcased the company’s VS-60HS12 60” diagonal DLP rear projection cube that measures 520mm deep.

InfoComm MEA often boasts many regional firsts in terms of the technology on show but, in addition to the Mitsubishi unit, there were a few new systems and units on stands.

Audio-Technica launched a Dante-equipped Microphone Desk stand, while Bose was showing off first demonstrations of its FreeSpace Configurator web application that facilitates quick and easy sound system design for hospitality environments. On the displays side SiliconCore launched its Lavender 1.2mm LED display, which can achieve full HD at 110”.

Many AV companies, including a number of video conferencing brands as well as display companies including Christie, NEC and Panasonic choose to exhibit in GITEX with positive results. With that choice, for the past four years the question for some exhibitors has been: GITEX or InfoComm MEA?

For those companies that view this as a real consideration, the sides are evening up. In GITEX the exhibitors spread their net far and wide. They get a big haul some of their catches will inevitably be thrown back.

The increased focus of InfoComm MEA still brings far fewer visitors but those visitors do seem to be coming with clear agendas, in many cases attending to discuss and get hands on with technologies they have heard about and are serious about specifying.

InfoComm MEA organisers have worked to increase the profile of the show. However, I would argue that the increased positivity surrounding this year’s event demonstrates a region hungry for knowledge and with money to spend.

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