Nobody Asked Me, But… (Special InfoComm Edition)

2

It was the famous journalist Jimmy Cannon who when faced with nothing particular to write about would fill his columns with a random series of opinions on anything he felt like saying. He’d begin every topic with “Nobody asked me, but…” and then go on to observe the world as he saw it. While I am privileged to post blogs about collaboration for The IMCCA, Cisco, InfoComm, LinkedIn, Network World, UC Strategies and my own site, and to submit the occasional (award winning) travel blog to JoeSentMe, I haven’t had had a place to air my rambling opinions that are too big for Twitter and too brief for a blog. With that in mind I am honored to support my friend David Maldow and his Let’s Do Video site with a recurring (when I feel like it) column of ramblings, rants, snark and musings about the things I know best – technology, AV, collaboration and multimedia (with what I’m sure will be a smattering of opinions on science fiction, travel and popular culture.) I’ll apologize now – just this one time – to anyone who may be offended by any of my comments and opinions. However, in most cases, the worst I’ll be doing is just putting in writing what industry insiders are saying anyway. If it’s not what you wanted to hear, well as I said, nobody asked me…  

Nobody asked me, but with InfoComm now solidly a month into the rear-view mirror I thought it would be good to focus my observations on that event for a change.

Member_of_the_DecadeNobody asked me, but I just won the award for best person at InfoComm 2015. Really. I also gave myself Best InfoComm Attendee of the Last Decade. What’s that you say? An award I give myself has little meaning? Well, it has just as much meaning as the dozens of other bull$%#* awards that magazines, bloggers, trade associations and the Freeman janitorial staff seem to give to products and firms every year. This year awards were announced by some organizations the morning the show opened. Really? The doors just open and one device has sunshine and rainbows shooting out of its connector panel so brightly that someone can immediately identify it as the best of the whole show? If that weren’t enough, one group actually gave a best of award to a firm that wasn’t even exhibiting anything at the event. I realize that no one can stop anyone from unilaterally giving any awards, but the value of this kind of recognition is really meaningless now that it can be bought by sponsoring something or by granting interviews to bloggers. InfoComm should empower one organization/committee/publication to give out “best in show awards” that carry the tag “official” and are permitted to carry the InfoComm logo. These should be awarded on the last day of the show, not as the doors open. Not doing that would be a missed opportunity to take the hot-air out of all the other stupidity.

Nobody asked me, but swag is out. It is refreshing to begin to hear voices in the industry finally calling out the stupid giveaways as a waste of time. Conference attendees are now usually savvy business travelers, desperately trying to get all their stuff into a single carry-on. There’s no room for light-saber toys, re-useable water bottles that set-off metal detectors, or any number of other useless tchotchkes that we really don’t need. What should exhibitors do to make an impression on attendees instead? There are lots of possibilities. Having drawings for free products that are then delivered after the show is one option; simple, inexpensive gift-cards for coffee or on-line purchases is another option. These are very cost-effective for exhibitors as they remove the shipping and on-site freight costs. Or, exhibitors could always do what my firm does and use the opportunity to have end-users network on our dime (as Lets Do Video described in this show blog.) We find that when users get together and talk about what does and doesn’t work, like rising cream the truth always comes to the top. Truly exceptional partners aren’t afraid of the truth or facilitating the user conversations.

Nobody asked me, but if you are a manufacturer in AV or Collaboration and you’re not willing to be at InfoComm to let people see your products and/or services side by side with those of your competitors then you’re dead to the world. Nobody is saying you have to have the largest booth or throw a party, but having at least a simple 10×10 booth that says you feel strongly enough about what you do to make the investment in time and resources is honestly essential. Exhibiting in the past but choosing not to now says to everyone that either you can’t afford to be there anymore (huge red flag) or you’re afraid of the comparison to competing firms (huge red flag.)   It very correctly should affect users’ buying choices. I send my clients an annual list of firms that stopped exhibiting and strongly advise against doing business with them because of the potential red flags. I’m sure others do too. No one should care how much you want to compensate for it with independent efforts or by supporting other conferences in other venues. Show-up or shut-up.

Nobody asked me, but while I’m on the subject of being there, I’d like to call out a new, different kind of being there that has no place at InfoComm. Once a year, competing firms should be able to put down their swords and come together for the good of the industry and the event attendees. InfoComm has an annual call for sessions when everyone is invited to submit session proposals. Even if your firm chooses not to submit a proposal, there are still InfoComm and IMCCA sessions open to members/exhibitors where sponsoring manufacturers/vendors/VARs can join in the conversation on an equal and fair plain with competitors – again for the good of the industry. Some vendors/vendor ‘global alliances’ chose not to play by those rules. They decided to hold their own meeting during exhibit hours. They “purchased” an industry analyst to present only their perspective, and invited attendees to join them for paid refreshments – pulling them from the show floor and away from sanctioned, official InfoComm events and sessions. This private event should never have been allowed to happen during exhibit hours. If it is planned again at future InfoComm events I can personally assure you that other exhibitors will also schedule private events at exactly the same time, ensuring that attendees again have an equal choice where to invest their time. Rather than call-out the vendors that found a way to skirt the rules and not play fair, here is a list of the vendors/manufacturers/VARs that did participate in sanctioned IMCCA sessions – appearing alongside their competitors for the good of the industry. In my humble opinion, these are the firms you should be doing business with – because they don’t fear the contrasts playing fair would bring about:Danto_ChartTill next time…

Get More Great Content Like This in the LDV Newsletter!

No spam guarantee.

About Author

David Danto has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and UC technologies for various firms including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, and Morgan Stanley. He is currently the Principal Consultant for collaboration, video, and AV disciplines at Dimension Data, as well as IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. Email David at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com to learn how he can help your organization solve problems, develop a future-proof collaboration strategy for internal use, or develop user-focused go-to-market strategies for your collaboration product or service. The opinions expressed in David’s commentary are his own, and are not representative of Let’s Do Video.

2 Comments

  1. Dave

    No one asked me either least of all you but here’s my thoughts, on your thoughts, of the show.

    I agree about awards to some extent. Self praise is no recommendation. Equally there is also no such thing as an objective opinion. So how do we solve this? I would argue that awards for products make little sense weather awarded before or after the show.

    As usual your comments are well made if as subtle as an air raid. 🙂

    Regards Simon

  2. Thanks for the comment Simon. The AV industry needs a few air raids to help a some people in it wake-up and smell the disruption. If that task falls to me then I’ll wear the label as a badge of honor.

Leave A Reply

Solve : *
14 + 17 =