COMDEX, the mega-trade show that defined the computer industry for nearly a quarter century, has gotten a virtual makeover with new interactive features that were demonstrated live for the first time Tuesday.
The new COMDEXvirtual event, the brain-child of Everything Channel, a United Business Media (UBM) company, in partnership with UBM Studios, marks the official return of COMDEX after a seven year hiatus. Everything Channel is the parent company of CRN.
UBM CEO David Levin and Everything Channel CEO Robert Faletra provided a tour of the interactive COMDEXvirtual environment Tuesday. The live online event will be held November 16 and 17 at COMDEXvirtual.com.
COMDEXvirtual aims to provide the same vital environment that used to attract thousands of attendees to COMDEX each November, anxious to learn about new products, find new technology directions and network with the industry's movers and shakers. The new virtual event features 11 conference tracks, 100 speakers, 27 exhibitors and over 11,000 registered attendees. COMDEXvirtual registration is open, and attendance is free.
"COMDEXvirtual is a unique platform for technology vendors to connect with sales prospects, to develop new prospects, to develop new businesses and to understand and communicate and share best practices about revenue streams and monetizing new opportunities," said Levin. "COMDEXvirtual does that with global reach, great efficiency and cost savings both for the exhibitor and also for the attendee."
Faletra said that global reach has resulted in what amounts so far to about 12 percent of the registered attendees (about 1,300) coming from outside the United States including a significant number of attendees from India. He said that 94 percent of the registered attendees are solution providers.
Faletra provided a tour of the interactive environment including the Expo Hall where attendees can interact with vendor staff in groups or via one-on-one chats and exchange "virtual cards." Furthermore, he said, attendees can download a wide variety of materials including data sheets, case studies and e-books.
"All exhibitors will have real-time access to booth reporting," he said. "They will be able to see who has entered the booth, how long they stayed, what they viewed and what they downloaded. All this activity tracking and data will make event follow up more targeted and meaningful for everyone."
Faletra even showed off an interactive VAR Bar where attendees can gather in a "relaxed environment" and a hospitality suite that includes a gaming table, a nod to COMDEX's former home, Las Vegas. "So fear not, networking is alive and well at COMDEXvirtual," he said.
NEXT: A New Way To NetworkCOMDEXvirtual also features vendor hospitality suites, one of the most popular aspects of the live show. The virtual hospitality suites have gated access with the suite host providing a predetermined password for select attendees. That makes it possible for vendors to privately get feedback from attendees on new product prototypes or technology directions.
"These types of candid conversations can take place in a secure private environment," Faletra said. The hospitality suites include a repository for technology training and materials that vendors may not want to release publicly. "This gives sponsors the opportunity to add even more value with their partners without compromising any business practices," he said. The virtual environment also support videos.
The COMDEXvirtual exhibitor directory tool allows attendees to "scan the full list of booths and view the exhibitors by specific categories," said Faletra. The booths at COMDEXvirtual mark a breakthrough aimed at maximizing space for "branding, messaging, interaction or [marketing] material distribution," he said.
Faletra said the virtual event includes content tracks designed by industry experts focused on subjects such as cloud computing, virtualization, green IT and mobility along with keynotes from leading CEOs such as Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson and Symantec CEO Enrique Salem.
The keynotes also include Nicholas Carr, who has chronicled the big technology shifts before they happened, including the utility/cloud computing phenomenon in The Big Switch, and Mark Cuban, the Texas billionaire and owner of The Dallas Mavericks, who started his successful entrepreneurial streak by founding Micro Solutions, a Dallas systems integrator that he sold in 1990.
COMDEXvirtual sessions and exhibitor booths will be archived and available on demand for six months, offering "all of us in the global channel community broad access to this valuable content to listen and learn at our own convenience," said Faletra.
COMDEXvirtual also includes a press room to offer access to all news and content from the event. The press room features a live news feed for all announcements. Faletra said that reporters and editors can mingle with attendees and vendors at the VAR Bar.
Faletra said COMDEX is as relevant today as it was when it was created in 1979 as a trade show for solution providers. "We are grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate why the spirit and relevance of COMDEX is just as alive today in this environment as it was so many years ago in Las Vegas," he said.