Notes from CEDIA Expo 2021
Finally! After more than 18 months of virtual events and connections I boarded a plane! Breaking away to Indianapolis for CEDIA Expo 2021, this was the first in-person trade show that I had attended since ISE in February of 2020.
I admit being a bit nervous about heading out as the Delta variant was surging; though any concerns I may have had about safety were quickly abated. I felt comfortable in the airports and on board the flight as all those around me took similar precautions by masking and keeping distance where possible. I had a similar experience at the show; my only hesitation was dining at the local restaurants, which turned out to be for naught since this was a business trip and I was fortunate to have plenty of industry friends & partners around me, all of whom were vaccinated and cautious as well. (Side note: 18 days since I returned home and I have yet to hear of anyone spreading COVID!).
Besides having the opportunity to see members and colleagues that I hadn’t seen in person for almost two years, one of the most memorable parts of the show was the panel session we hosted and I participated. Titled “Platform Playground: Shaping the Future of the Smart Home and Understanding Where Protocols Face Both Opportunities and Challenges,” I was joined by members of the Connectivity Standards Alliance and Matter working group, as well as smart home manufacturers, to have a never publicly held conversation around the future of smart home interoperability. We chatted about newer initiatives such as Matter, as well as legacy protocols and ecosystems, and how they’ll all come together on the same playground – and what integrators need to know about how to prepare.
Reflecting on my time spent at the show, as part of the panel session, and from the numerous conversations I had with our members, show attendees, press, and others, I have a few takeaways:
The smart home continues to grow, but we need to address and educate around interoperability now.
Offering the widest breadth of choice has been a key Z-Wave tenet since its inception. We believe that Z-Wave will continue to be an important part of the overall smart home ecosystem – but it is in the best interest of both the Alliance and manufacturers to evaluate how we can best support other standards in their mission to create market-wide interoperability. A rising tide lifts all ships and we can all find ways to contribute to the greater good of our industry to ensure its continued growth.
Standards organizations, manufacturers, integrators -- We all have more in common than we might think.
Despite some headlines and rumors suggesting otherwise, we all have the same common overarching goal: Make the smart home easier to implement and use, more accessible, feature-rich, and interoperable, offering consumers and end-users the widest, most sophisticated breadth of choice in the smart home. We aren’t competing head-to-head – Z-Wave, for example, brings technical capabilities that other protocols don’t, in addition to the largest smart home product ecosystem, with 20 years of experience to back it up. But new protocols, like Matter, also bring a wealth of benefits to the ecosystem that we have been prioritizing for years. We all need to come together to find ways to collaborate, instead of competing.
Tradeshows and in-person events aren’t “dead” and we need to find ways to safely bring them back for the sake of our industry.
People buy from people; relationships matter! Although CEDIA Expo was held on a much smaller scale, it reminded me of the reasons why I love coming together at events and shows – nothing virtual can replicate the benefits that in-person conversations and experiences bring. From ad-hoc meetings and networking, to watching product demos, the experiential differences that face-to-face interaction with both people and technology brings are exponential. It’s important that we continue to commit to finding a way to bring in-person back events in a way that is safe for all – our industry’s success depends on it.
If you attended CEDIA, what were your key takeaways? Are you or your company planning on attending any upcoming events in the next year? Reach out at email@example.com and let me know.