In the realm of integrated systems technology, one event has stood as a beacon for the industry, drawing exhibitors and attendees from all corners of the globe. For two decades, the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show has played a pivotal role in shaping the pro AV and systems integration landscape. While ISE celebrates its 20th anniversary, Mike takes us on a remarkable trip down memory lane, revealing the fascinating story behind the formation of ISE and his own journey over the decades.
The real first mover was Randy Lemke of InfoComm (later AVIXA) – he had the idea." While there had been previous InfoComm shows in Germany, in collaboration with the Photokina show and with exhibitors such as Kodak, Randy recognised that the AV industry was changing, and a new exhibition was needed to cater for these changes. Randy reached out to Billilynne Keller from CEDIA and Chuck Wilson from NSCA, and together they hatched the plan to create ISE.
Mike officially joined Integrated Systems Events in 2003, and the journey to launch the show began. In the early days, he had just two team members, Godwin Demicoli and a trainee. Together, they laid the groundwork for the inaugural event in January 2004. The team started small but with a big vision, and they gradually expanded as the show grew.
After using a logistics agency for a few years, the organisation recruited Martine Niermans and Daniëlle Inostroza as the in-house Operations team began to take shape. In the Marketing department, the team continued to expand with the addition of Dan Goldstein and Stefanie Span (formerly Hanel).
One critical aspect of ISE's success is its choice of venue and date. Mike reveals that the initial venue, Geneva, was chosen for its neutral location.
However, exhibitors had to deal with Swiss import and export requirements; the clear message after the show was to move away from Geneva, based on logistical considerations. After a European road trip that Mike undertook with Jason McGraw of InfoComm, Amsterdam became the new home for ISE.
ISE continued to evolve over the years. As the show expanded and matured, new areas and opportunities emerged. Mike reflects on the early days and how the team learned from each experience, saying, "Do you know, I've seen everything as evolution. Launching in Geneva was not a mistake. It wasn't the right place to launch, but it helped because it kept the show neutral." Despite the challenges, every experience contributed to ISE's growth and success.
Mike notes that brands have adapted their programmes to achieve maximum impact at ISE. He explains: “ISE provides the opportunity for companies to do market research with customers and potential customers to find out what they want and learn. Over the years, we’ve seen a change in the R&D process in that more and more companies are focussing their product launches for January/ February. For display companies it makes a lot of sense because they're taking some equipment to CES in the US and then shipping it straight to ISE afterwards. So, within a two-week window they get the opportunity to launch products in two continents. We see the same for our pro audio companies as well. It helps them to present their products in the marketplace.”
As the show grew, the concept of Technology Zones emerged to help attendees navigate the vast array of offerings. These zones, such as the Content Production & Distribution Zone introduced in 2023, serve to group related technologies and make it easier for attendees to explore specific areas of interest. Exhibitors also benefit from being clustered together, fostering collaboration, and attracting visitors with complementary needs.
As ISE celebrates its 20th anniversary, the show is set to be its biggest and most impactful yet. Mike emphasises the importance of in-person events and the value they provide to the industry. He sees ISE evolving in a way that incorporates a blend of physical and digital elements to cater to the needs of the modern world.
He envisions ISE continuing to be a platform for innovation and growth, stating, "I see ISE as being even more important in the future. I think the show is still going to be here in 20 years' time, but it will have evolved into something more. I see ISE influencing the industry to a greater extent and helping the industry to move forwards, which is what I've always wanted."
As ISE looks ahead to the next 20 years and beyond, one thing remains clear: the show will continue to be a driving force in the industry, shaping its future and bringing together professionals from around the world to celebrate the world of integrated systems technology.