DSE Day 2, or was it day 3

February 27, 2009 by Dave Haynes

Sitting in the airport in Las Vegas heading home, silently plotting some way to disable the sound on those damned slot machines they have right in the departure gates.

After five days of dingdingdingdingding, you think someone would have a mercy rule.

It is 20 Celsius here and minus 6 or something at home. Swell.

I would love to go to the industry’s primary trade show one year just as an observer. I might actually then have a shot at passing on useful information. As it stands, I did something like 14 meetings in two days and the only time I got off my little piece of trade hall carpet was a handful of mad dashes to the men’s room. If the software or gear was not along my route, I didn’t see it.

I did have a wander around on set-up day and saw some stuff I will write about when I have energy and my notes handy, but here are my general impressions:

Traffic – Down, no matter what gets announced. How could it not be, really? Day 2 of the trade hall was definitely slower than Day 1, and it really tailed off in the afternoon.

Crowd type – Definitely a more educated bunch wandering around. Most of the people knew what the business was all about, knew what they were looking for, and had their business plans in place. I ran into very few knuckleheads with loose plans and vague boasts about doing the magical 1,000 locations. In past years, there’s always been a few of those sucking up time and energy.

Organization – Efficient and smooth from what I can tell. I didn’t hear anyone complaining. The secondary shows/theme areas were generally way off in the back 40 of the hall, so I’d imagine some people never got to them and from what I saw in set-up, they were pretty low-key. I liked some of the in-hall stuff they did at DSE East in Philly, but didn’t see it replicated here.

Conferences – I never saw where they were, never mind attended. But heard mixed reviews. Some great sessions. Some pretty much useless. It’s hard to control what people say and whenever non-industry people get pulled in you may get people who are passionate and engaged, or just showing up and asking to be reminded about the panel subject and what they’re doing.

Booths – My guys just did meeting rooms and we had no screens running content. That was a big departure from the competitors, who all had heaps of screens showing stuff. I could argue the merits of both approaches, though I think the industry is at a level of maturity that most people hunting for software assume the vendors can all play video and Flash and carve up a screen into zones. It was interesting to see how many vendors who have very good software had really crappy screen designs and creative material.

Complaints – My guys and a few other companies that pay the most money to be at the show were in the immediate vicinity of the Scala booth, which had a canned audio presentation with the audio set at a level that was undoubtedly picked up at CIA listening stations off the coast of North Korea. When that thing fired up, all chance at having a conversation with customers was lost. The DSE people should have been getting that under control, but instead, they had their own regular announcements about in-hall presentations blaring on a public address system set to 11 on the volume dial. Just breathtakingly stupid.

Funny – A flurry of press releases re-announcing products, or even just that a company was at the show. My favorite was a company announcing it was using Twitter. Awesome!!!

Next year – I am told the major booth positions at the entry are already sold out for next year, and I am sure some of the big guys traded up or down for 2010. If this economy continues like this some of those spots will undoubtedly open up. My guess is things will look very different in 12 months, though it was going to anyway – even in a thriving economy.


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