DSE Industry Forum: My thoughts

October 11, 2010 by Dave Haynes

I have been off the grid for a few days because I was at a resort near San Diego that was the site of Digital Signage Expo’s first Industry Forum.

I’ll go into some detail below, but in a word, it was terrific.

Exponation, which runs DSE and was trying this format for the first time in this sector, invited Preset to come down and run two educational mornings for the 30 end-users who were invited to meet with suppliers. Like the end-users, our travel costs and accommodations were covered, but we were not paid for our time. The costs of the event were covered by the suppliers, who paid for extended and close access to 30 companies and organizations who are at various stages with their digital signage projects.

The 30 end-users were split into two groups, the first batch spending Friday morning with suppliers on 15-minute speed-dates that allowed both sides to cut out the niceties and go straight to whether vendor capabilities synced up with user needs.

The other batch got keynote speeches from the event’s premium sponsors like Peerless, Samsung and Intel, and then a great 30-minute session from Alan Brawn, who does those DSCE education sessions you see attached to major industry trade shows. We’d not met before and I didn’t know much about the DSCE program, but Alan is an old college professor and knows how to engage and excite a crowd with really solid information based on a pile of AV sector experience.

Then Pat Hellberg, Paul Flanigan and I did roughly three hours talking about the thinking and methodical process that needs to go into a successful project. We realized pretty quickly that the audience dynamics allowed the sessions to be about sharing as well as teaching. The people who were thoroughly new to the sector got the benefit of hearing not only from us, but from comments and ideas chipped in from major retailers and corporations who are deep into their projects. Those folks readily shared what was working, what they’d learned and where they were struggling.

I’m pretty comfy, based on feedback, those sessions came off well. But setting what we did aside, the overall dynamic of the event worked well. There was a good, extended mixer the night before the forum started that allowed a lot of people to meet and get the “What do you do?” stuff out of the way. DSE made a point of specific seating assignments at breakfast and dinner so people met. And they struck a nice balance between the education and business side of the event, with the fun side the carrot to get end-users down there.There was golf. Shopping. Spa time.

I was curious just how many of the end-users were serious buyers and how many just wanted a nice weekend at a historic resort, but my own sense and what I heard from suppliers is that the group really was a qualified bunch. I do know there were some deals done pretty much on the spot, and the suppliers I talked to were very happy with how things went down.

DSE will, I’m sure, also have been pleased with how it came together and I doubt this was a one-off event. As with the big DSE show, the thing was polished and professional from start to finish. Well done, guys.

My Preset colleague Paul Flanigan has posted his impressions at http://experiate.net/2010/10/12/what-i-learned-at-the-dse-industry-forum/

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