CEDIA Expo 2018: The Future is Collaboration
I get asked a lot from family and friends what I think about the number of trade shows and events I cover each year. They want to know what the coolest tech is or what impressed me.
Imagine how bored they will be when I tell them CEDIA Expo 2018 - the biggest showcase of bleeding-edge audio, video, and automation - was all about building partnerships.
But luckily for this industry, a focus on collaborations is actually some of the most exciting news the trade has received in a while. Last year our Surviving CEDIA series highlighted a major theme from outside parties looking to crack the trade - namely Amazon's formal courting of our industry.
And although CEDIA Expo doesn't have quite the same host of outside forces looking to bridge the gap, the show is buzzing with more companies than ever looking to produce programs that build manufacturer-dealer relationships but also building manufacturer-manufacturer partnerships.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the more interesting companies to run into on the show floor was Comcast and their otherwise unassuming booth. Their presence alone confirms the importance of this community. And after chatting with their representatives, it makes a lot of sense for both parties.
It's no secret that Comcast has built one of the biggest empires across the nation and they truthfully could probably carry on without talking to dealers. However, their approach has been to create a relationship with a growing list of integrators, offering dedicated tech support, direct-line communication through slack, and a host of benefits from their portal.
One of their big initiatives is making sure control and audio companies can work flawlessly with whatever set-top box their client wants. And why shouldn't they? It makes so much more sense to offer support for professionals instead of rolling their own truck to ruin a consumers experience with equipment that doesn't function from day one.
But that same philosophy is working its way into almost every company on the show floor.
DISH Network has been absolutely buzzing with excitement, embracing every square inch of the custom integration philosophy. Bose came out swinging with a refreshed line of Alexa-enabled soundbars and a killer wireless subwoofer, emphasized by a host of new partners to their Works With Bose program. AudioControl has been one of the most prominent torchbearers with their Sound Partners initiative, a way to bring manufacturer recommended settings directly to their product. DTS launched IMAX Enhanced and picked up a swarm of new partners including Sound United and Sony to bring a turnkey solution to dealers looking to offer something brand new to their clients.
Which is all underscored by the Design Connections tour - an industry-industry partnership that really highlights why designers need to know that technology can look just as good as it performs by bringing a swarm of industry renowned professionals to the show floor. And all of this that doesn't even begin to mention the cooperation opportunities offered by buying groups and CEDIA's education and memberships.
So if you want to know what excites me about CEDIA Expo 2018, it's a focus on winning together. The channel's existence is dependent on bringing a lifestyle to consumers that may not have brand loyalty. Dealers know that clients want versatility and manufacturers are responding to that. Open API's, dedicated support, and open dealer-dealer communication is just a small glimpse into the future - but continued efforts on all fronts will begin shaping a new inudstry for everyone.