Two weeks ago, NetworkWorld columnist Michael Osterman asked "are physical tradeshows useful any more?"
Despite the quality of the Inbox-Outbox event, I wonder about the future of trade shows in general. It’s clearly quite fun to visit London or Las Vegas or New York and schmooze with your peers at these events, but do the events provide enough bang for the buck?
He requested comments from readers. With Lotusphere at the forefront of my mind, I answered. My comment appeared (unattributed, but that's ok... I know it was me, and now you do too) yesterday:
It is absolutely true that there are many online opportunities to pick up the same information that one gets at trade shows, but how does one budget the time to take advantage of these opportunities? Few people are afforded sufficient uninterrupted time in the office to really do their homework. Even with the possibility of downloading a podcast and listening to it while commuting, there are just too many other things vying for attention – and information comes out too sporadically, with vendors playing leapfrog, so fractured attention plus fractured information yields an incomplete or muddy picture. It seems to me that a significant piece of the value of a trade show is that for the duration, the attendee has the rare luxury of budgeting his or her primary attention on one narrow area. There may indeed be more cost-efficient ways of doing this, but in a very real sense it is the cost that allows the attendee to focus attention… The sunk cost of paying for the ticket justifies putting those other things off for a day.
1. Curt Stone12/19/2007 12:20:39 PM
I agree with your perspective. I'd add that there is still no technology replacement for face-to-face interaction. I worked on my schedule for Lotusphere today. I'm going to be exposed to a ton of great content and an opportunity to meet the speakers. Blogging is great for info and it helps in introducing yourself in person if you've had some online interaction in the past. I can only speak for Lotusphere but it's like a 'family' event for me. Everyone is willing to help each other. Group hug.