David J. Danto
Principal Consultant, Collaboration/ AV / Multimedia / Video / UC
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance
To Tradeshow or Not To Tradeshow
I recently attended a conference where the CIO of a significant organization told me how his team was saving money using videoconferencing and collaboration tools instead of traveling to meetings.
Do you perceive any irony there? Both The CIO of a significant organization and I (and a few hundred others) - people who clearly understand the value of telecommuting and on-line collaboration tools - felt it worthwhile and valuable to take the time and bear the expense of traveling to a multiple day conference. Does that make us hypocrites? No, not at all.
To help explain this I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes of HL Menken (and I’m paraphrasing here) that all complex issues have answers that are clear, simple and wrong. To be living in an age where technology is able to support more business activities than ever before, and in an economic environment where every expenditure needs to be justifiable, to simply parrot the easy answer “no travel, use technology” does not exhibit any wisdom.
As I’ve mentioned in prior blogs – despite what video salespeople may tell you - videoconferencing, telepresence, web-meetings or whatever the collaboration tool du-jour do not prevent most needed air travel – and they certainly don’t prevent travel to conferences.
Industry conferences - and specifically technical conferences - are an absolute essential nowadays. Technological change is moving at an unheard-of pace. At a recent press conference I attended, Gary Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, pointed out that some technology firms are adopting an “innovation cycle” of only nine months. That means that a product is conceived, designed, manufactured and sold all in a nine month period. Imagine what that does to an organization that used to depreciate their technology in five to seven years. Any organization that is not aware of the changing trends may never recover – especially if a competitor of theirs is aware.
Technical conferences can’t be replaced by conferencing technology, as the reasons we attend them can’t be reproduced remotely. I see the top five reasons to attend these conferences as:
1. The ability to network with peers and exhibitors from other firms and locations
2. The ability to discover industry trends
3. The ability to find out about products and vendors one was not aware of
4. The ability to compare features and benefits amongst different brands of products
5. The ability to attend manufacturer agnostic formal and informal training across a broad range of subjects
We owe it to our employers and/or clients to keep our edge – to maintain relevant knowledge and expertise within our chosen industry. Attending conferences is the best and usually the most economical way to accomplish that.
So the next time a client or supervisor of yours suggests you save money by not attending a conference, tell him or her it would save even more money if the firm goes out of business – because it might as well do just that if it chooses not to remain up to speed and relevant. Better yet, email them a link to this blog. I’m happy to do every public service I can. And check out my page - www.danto.info – to see what the next conferences I’m going to will be (at the bottom of the page.)
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info. Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems or develop a future-proof collaboration strategy.