ISE 2022 in review: European AV market in transition

After two difficult years ISE has successfully arrived at its new location in Barcelona. With almost 44,000 visitors from 151 countries the leading trade fair of the AV industry attracted more visitors than expected. More than 800 exhibitors presented the latest innovations and solutions in AV technology on 48,000 square metres. A programme of trade congresses, keynotes and events accompanied the exhibition. macom was on site with management and technology scouts.

Our impressions: High quality and professionalisation


The gathering of the AV industry created a positive mood among all participants. The new FIRA Barcelona exhibition centre is characterised by spacious areas, improved structure, clarity and simplified routing.

The most important players on the market were represented – with the exception of mainly Chinese exhibitors, who were absent due to the pandemic. European companies, especially from Spain and France, made a stronger impression this year – among them many large, international companies. The quality and professionalism of the contacts and contributions was at a very high level. The relevance of AV/IT topics seems to have increased among decision-makers and managers.

AV technology is increasingly perceived as a productive factor. Changing customer requirements and the advancing digitalisation and hybridisation are driving the professionalisation of the market. Daily trade congresses set the thematic guidelines: Smart Building, Smart Workspace, Digital Signage, Digital Learning, Live Events and more.

AV goes IT

It is noticeable that IT is moving more and more into the focus and towards AV in the course of the latest developments. This could already be seen in the increasing presence of IT companies – manufacturers, distributors and integrators. For example, manufacturers such as Logitech are suddenly represented with similarly large exhibition stands as key players such as Panasonic were in the past.

Also among customers IT departments are increasingly taking centre stage as decision-makers. Accordingly, in addition to classic product presentations, many exhibitors are increasingly focusing on strategic orientations towards internationalisation, alternative service models and remote manageability of systems.

The distribution channels are also shifting more towards IT distributors and away from the classic AV trade channels. Peripheral manufacturers are increasingly adapting to these developments. Whether the IT channels realise that professional AV environments comprise more than just technical equipment remains to be seen. Holistic room concepts, acoustics, lighting, focus on the user experience and scalability for rollout and operation must not be neglected. This is not yet the focus of IT in the AV sector.

Supply bottlenecks lead to rethinking in the industry

An overriding theme was the geopolitical and pandemic related supply bottlenecks. Due to delays in production and increased energy and transport costs, many manufacturers will not be able to deliver products on time or at all for the foreseeable future.

European manufacturers in particular are therefore rethinking their supply chains and restructuring them. In the future, development and production will again be more regional and less dependent on the international, especially Asian, market. This is in line with our observation that in the future we will see larger distributed organisations that are increasingly strategically rethinking their national and international AV procurement, rollout and operating models in order to remain flexible.

Together with leading European partners, macom has founded the independent AV consortium WEAVE (We European AV Experts) in order to provide scalable support throughout Europe and to be able to respond to local market conditions at any time. Think international – act local is the motto here. This also means checking the availability of goods at an early stage in the consulting and design process and thus minimising project risks due to supply chain bottlenecks.

UCC one of the dominant topics – need to catch up in service and sustainability

In the area of UCC (Unified Communication & Collaboration) the focus was on Microsoft’s platform dominance with Teams and the optimisation of hybrid meetings.

Microsoft Teams is increasingly establishing itself as the dominant UCC platform. New features such as Frontrow, improved chat functions, automated meeting logging and translation are significant innovations that should help make hybrid meetings more productive and inclusive.

It was interesting that AV as a Service models – for example, the monthly usage fee for a complete meeting room including defined service levels – are still not widespread. There are a few providers (Meeting Room as a Service, Digital Signage as a Service), but far fewer than we would have expected this year.

Financing as well as rollout and operation of systems, for example in the area of hybridisation of workspaces and digital signage, are a major challenge and critical success factors for the AV organisation. Here, standardised, scalable solutions, ideally as a managed service model in the sense of a holistic AV lifecycle approach, are increasingly in demand. The fast, flexible rollout as well as the remote manageability of the technologies at plannable costs will be decisive for success in the future if the number of installations with AV technology equipment continues to increase strongly.

There is also a need to catch up on the topic of sustainability. The topic is still not taken as seriously as it is increasingly demanded by customers due to legal and internal company guidelines. There are mainly isolated marketing-oriented statements on the topic, but no recognisable strategies.

In addition, the links from AV technology and smart building to smart workspace technologies are becoming more visible. The fact that the IOT Solution World Congress was held at the same time as the ISE on the exhibition grounds was a clear signal for the further transformation towards integrated solution architectures.

LED is leading display technology

Modern LED technologies are the leading display technology in the field of large-format displays and were very dominant at the fair. Among them were innovative solutions such as transparent LED displays, for example for façade or shop window displays. The (re)awakening of stretch formats (for example 21:9) was also interesting to see. In addition to applications in the field of digital signage, the main drivers for this are the needs in hybrid meeting spaces, for example to replace dual display solutions.

Innovative audio applications that output different content at different points in the room via virtual channels offer new possibilities for meetings, exhibitions or brand spaces.

The first virtual representations in the Metaverse were interesting, too. Whether as corporate and brand representation in the form of virtual trade fair stands or showrooms for marketing purposes or as a live collaboration space for immersive project meetings – it keeps us excited. macom will definitely also deal with this expanded spatial dimension.

macom as a networking agent: our VIP Networking Event at ISE

As a leading company for technology consulting and design, we have always seen ourselves in an important mediating role in the market. From a bird’s eye view, we keep an eye on the interrelationships and bring together the decision-makers of important manufacturers, integrators, users and customers within the framework of the ISE.

For this reason, we organised the established macom VIP networking event as part of ISE 2022 again. More than 80 AV decision-makers from all over Europe were present, including manufacturers, system integrators, user representatives and macom customers, as well as our employees and WEAVE AV consulting partners.

In the great atmosphere of a very traditional local bar, exciting, constructive conversations and connections arose over tapas and drinks. For us, it was the highlight of a successful week of events. Many thanks to the ISE team around Mike Blackman. We are looking forward to ISE 2023.

If you want to learn more about ISE 2022 and relevant AV/IT topics and connect with us, you will have the opportunity on 02. June 2022 at our macom OpenLAB event in Eislingen/Fils. Click here to register.

Author: Felix Niedrich, Editor macom GmbH