Comparing Notes: Roger & Leslie’s Excellent NAB 2018 Adventure

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In this sixth of six installments related to the 2018 NAB Show, colleagues Roger Sherwood, Global Industry Director of Cisco’s Media & Entertainment group, and technology communications specialist Leslie Ellis –who’ve covered umpteen millions of square feet of trade shows—talk shop. The question they’d been posed was this: “Talk about things you’d only know or see because you’d been there; stuff you won’t find online.”

Leslie Ellis: I think I’d start with the “numbers behind the numbers” that Josh (Stinehour) revealed at the Devoncraft conference, about NAB exhibitors over time.

Roger Sherwood: You mean the bit about how there were 41,950 exhibitors at the 2005 NAB –and 9,900 this year?

LE: Yes. Hello, industry consolidation! And what puts those numbers in perhaps even sharper contrast is that NAB is one of the remaining gathering places for “video people” in general. So many other trade shows have shut down. As a result, it seems like a lot of adjacent communities are seeking and finding ways to “bundle in” with NAB.

RS: There was a lot of “show within a show,” too –all of those mini stages sprinkled around the various show floors.

LE: Three that I counted, probably more.

RS: This isn’t news by any stretch, but I loved when John Stroup (CEO of Belden) said how they’ve seen so many other industries “go digital” –manufacturing, retail, and so on— but that media and entertainment is the one of the last to go fully digital. I loved it because it reiterates something we’ve been seeing for several years now.

LE: As you know, I live mostly in the industry we used to call “cable,” and from that prism, sometimes it seems like déjà vu, when listening to broadcasters talk about where they are along the continuum of “IP transition.” It feels like about a three-year gap.

RS: The other one that really stood out to me, and again from the Devoncraft conference, was the whole thing about how “remote production” had risen to No. 4, from somewhere far lower than that, in their list of most important tech trends, [which was] defined as “not where you spend money, but what will have impact.”

LE: Right! That was on my list, too. And then that supporting quote from Michael Harabin (President, Gearhouse Broadcast) –“I saw all those trucks pulling out there for production … it’s like looking at dinosaurs moving around.” I’d read about trends in remote production, but I didn’t realize it was moving that quickly.

RS: Yes, that’s a biggie. And I think we both agree that the quote of the show goes to my colleague and friend, Dave Ward (Cisco CTO of Engineering and Chief Architect), with his “1-800 Save My Ass” quipo. You have the killer notes, what was the context, exactly?

LE: He had been asked “Who puts all of this together?” as it relates to the virtualization of everything. Dave said, “It goes back to who’s going to be the 1-800-SAVE-MY-ASS when something is broken… which will depend on who the end customer trusts. Who they think is actually going to answer the phone when something is broken.”

RS: And then something about how that’s us, that we’ll be the 1-800.

LE: Right. The quote was, “We’ll take the lead, the solution partners.”

RS: Speaking of field notes… did you tell me you spent some time just writing down things you heard people say in passing? Kind of like “scenes from a mall,” except in this case from LVCC?

LE: I did! I always do. I only write them down if I hear them a few times, or if they’re particularly funny or illuminating. You know –what you hear when you’re walking from one place to another. This year, the one that came up enough that I wrote it down and ended up putting six check marks behind it –so at least 7x overheard— was “I didn’t say I want it, I just want to see it.”

RS: Could apply to almost anything.

LE: Could, but, among the “bright sparkly things” this year was HDR, AR/VR, and let’s not forget the most frequently used acronym of the 2018 NAB, “AI/ML.”

RS: Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.

LE: In one of the Show dailies, I counted 25 incidences of it on a single page.

RS: You’re a weirdo. I mean that in the nicest way.

LE: Thank you. What’s next?

RS: IBC.

LE: See you there!

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