An estimated 57,000 visitors are expected at the RAI in Amsterdam between September 13 and 18, 2018, for IBC 2018. Michael Crimp, CEO of IBC, gives us a preview.
When an estimated 57,000 visitors descend on the RAI in Amsterdam September 13-18, 2018, around 1,700 exhibitors across fifteen halls, and more than 400 industry thought leaders, will unveil a host of possibilities for the broadcast industry going forward. Michael Crimp, CEO of IBC, gives us a preview.
Whats new at IBC this year?
Before I answer that, its important to say whats the same. We still have 15 exhibition halls full of all the players in this rapidly changing industry. That includes some new and exciting businesses, like the Alibaba Group, based in China and the sixth largest internet company in the world.
Also the same since the first IBC 51 years ago is the recognition that our visitors are seeking knowledge. They rely on IBC to provide the forum for information exchange on the show floor, in the conference and in the value-added experiences and networking opportunities we create.
In turn, we are seeing exhibitors evolve in the way they present themselves. When IBC started, exhibitors were selling big devices: it was obvious what they did, and the captions alongside the big boxes talked in terms of technical specifications.
Our visitors are seeking knowledge. They rely on IBC to provide the forum for information exchange on the show floor, in the conference and in the value-added experiences and networking opportunities we create Michael Crimp, CEO, IBC
Today, large numbers of the products at IBC are software packages of some sort, whether running on dedicated hardware, standard computers or in the cloud. Exhibitors have to innovate to showcase their products and their unique selling points.
Smart exhibitors are finding new ways of telling their stories. We see many more putting theatres on their stands so they can present the philosophies behind their solutions, perhaps introducing users who have successfully adopted the technologies. It is all part of telling the story.
In the conference, too, we are finding new ways to tell the story. The IBC Conference was founded on technical papers, and they remain absolutely central to the programme. This year, though, they are being woven more closely into broader sessions, so that the underlying technology is handled alongside the operational and business implications putting all sides of the story in the same place.
And by IBC2018, we should have some very exciting news about our plans for IBC2019!
What are the hottest trends in the industry at the moment?
The shift to IP connectivity and software-defined topologies; the convergence of broadcast, IT and telecoms; and the search for new formats, whether that is ultra HD or virtual reality, are some hot topics.
What is exciting is the way that the business that uses these technologies is changing. How will broadcasters, telcos and streaming companies co-exist? Will OTT providers be the new broadcasters, or will producers sell direct to consumers? These are the sorts of questions that are debated at IBC.
Advertising still seems a reliable and lucrative way to fund content production and delivery. Will programmatic advertising planning and dynamic ad insertion transform the cost/revenue model? Or will new monetisation methods maybe blockchain-managed micropayments from consumer to producer transform the creative industry?
These issues may not be solved at IBC2018, but they will be much talked about.
The breakthrough ideas in technology often come from start-ups who will take a small space at IBC and achieve a dramatic result. One of the key reasons to come to IBC is to poke around in the corners of the exhibition and find these new ideas.
On that same subject, I would urge everyone to visit the IBC Future Zone, our regular space given over to the hit products of five years in the future. This year, we are collaborating with IABM on the Future Reality Theatre, which will present new ideas and spark the debate for change.
What will the opening of the new North-South metro line in Amsterdam mean for visitors?
The opening of the new metro line will allow visitors to get from central Amsterdam to the heart of the RAI in just a few minutes. It will be a great relief for those who dread the crowds on the number 4 tram, and it will slash journey times. When you get off the new train, you will also see that we have transformed the conference programme.
What technological trends are you most excited about?
It may be an odd thing to say, in a technological industry, but it is not the technologies themselves that are exciting. Certainly, there are big things happening. I think we will see big advances in areas like artificial intelligence, 5G and blockchain.
But the real excitement comes when these raw technologies are put into action. IBC puts these ideas in front of people who can imagine the possibilities and create the applications that transform our creativity and our business models.
One of the IBC events I enjoy most is the Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening, and within that, the IBC Innovation Awards. These mark the most successful completed projects of the year. Time after time, the winners say that their projects started with conversations at IBC when they saw the potential of new technologies and could see how to solve their own very specific challenges. That is worth getting excited about.
What are the highlights of the IBC Innovation Awards?
The IBC Innovation Awards are a perfect encapsulation of everything we think is good about IBC. They reward not pure technology, but the way that end users and technology partners work together to achieve a practical and satisfying solution to a real-world challenge.
This years shortlist sees 10 projects up for the three awards and those 10 finalists come from at least 10 countries (there are a couple of multinational projects in there). They come from five continents: Africa, America, Asia, Australasia and Europe.
I know that they include sport and news, multilingual production and multinational delivery, new ways of engaging audiences and new business models to maximise revenues. As a sports fan, I am personally delighted that half of them are from the world of sport rallying to skiing.
But the international judging panel keeps its deliberations close to its chest. On Sunday evening at IBC, I am just like everyone else in the audience: I dont know who has won until the announcement is made.