Virtual Shows Could Put Tech Back In IT12:00 AM EST Mon. Sep. 10, 2007
I recently returned from the CMP XChange '07 event in Orlando, Fla., and had the opportunity to see and sample new technologies and products from many manufacturers. Of all the products and services I saw, none excited me more than the concept of the virtual trade show (which was not on display at all). CMP announced it will be offering these events. Among the participants at XChange, I heard comments like, "What about face-to-face interaction and seeing the products firsthand?" However, those "flares" from sales, executive and marketing people immediately caught my attention, as I realized that techies would feel differently about it.
It dawned on me at XChange that technical people are every VAR's first and last line of defense in the technology world, and companies can use virtual trade shows to bring them back into the evaluation process. Technicians do not typically care about colored marketing sheets or bobble-head reproductions of distribution salespeople. Technical people want to know things like, What does a product do? Will it work in XYZ environment? Is there a dedicated support phone line for resellers? Is an NFR or a demo product available? Are patches and updates available for download without a hassle?
The virtual trade show is a concept based on the culture of the computer industry. Back in the day, when technology was discussed feverishly in news groups and bulletin board systems through 1200- and 2400-baud modems, the industry was driven by technical people, not "marketing concepts" and "return-on-investment studies." The virtual trade show, depending on the implementation, can bring grassroots technology people back into the fold in terms of feedback based on real-world experience and honest evaluation of a product or service.
Technicians are aware of "billable hours" and can budget their time to partake in this virtual trade show adventure. They can become more efficient and valuable to their employers through increasing their awareness and knowledge of technology products. They can educate themselves as to what other manufacturers offer, and they can once again participate in industry events that celebrate the creativeness, effectiveness and viability of new products in the IT marketplace. Technicians are in the best position to cut through the BS and the hype that can influence resellers to adopt a platform that may not be in their long-term best interest.
As a VAR and reseller of technology, I am waiting anxiously to see how this "new" concept is implemented, and I urge all of you to check it out and form your own opinions, bearing in mind that I have found it in my best interest to give everyone three strikes before calling it a day.
Ted Hunter is general manager of Champion Networks, Brunswick, Maine.
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