In my job as a Product Manager I find myself doing a lot more travel than when I was in engineering. Been to three trade shows already this year, IBM’s ConnectED in January, Team Polycom in February, and just this past week, Enterprise Connect. All three were in Orlando, FL. If you don’t know it, in addition to being the promised land for lovers of all-things Disney, Orlando hosts 100s of conferences and trade-shows each year, ranging from the tech-oriented shows that I attend, to shows like Snaxpo, “The world’s largest, most comprehensive trade show devoted exclusively to the international snack food industry”, where you can attends sessions like : The State of Snacking: Finding an Identity in a Rapidly-Changing World; and shows like the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, “the largest international gathering of fly fishing manufacturers, retailers, sales reps, media and fly fishing organizations in the world”. I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine the result if only these two shows could join forces.
Back to Enterprise Connect. This show is about unified communications in all its forms. In the past the main topics at EC Shows have been the core technology – how do things work – and to some extent, interoperability – for example, how does video from company A talk to video from company B? This year’s show had a distinct collaboration focus, however, with a strong emphasis on solutions that are easy to use, highly mobile, and lead to fast, straight-forward benefits. Taking their cue from “over the top” applications like WhatsApp and #Slack, UC leaders Cisco and Unify introduced their Spark and Circuit offerings respectively – both being team-oriented chat, meeting and content-sharing apps, all with a social flavor. So one of the big takeaways was, it’s not about ‘speeds and feeds” anymore, it’s about putting tools in the hands of users that they control and can use to get work done quickly and easily. For my own product, IBM Sametime, this is a pretty timely message – hopefully we can bring together some of the concepts we’ve been brewing to not only equal these first-movers but to surpass them.
Of course one of the charms – such as they are – of trade shows is swag. Tramping the exhibitor hall you will see stalwarts carrying show-bags loaded down with everything from pens to stress-balls to lightsabers. But the best time to go swag hunting is when the exhibitors’ hall closes down, because everyone want to pack up and ship back as little as possible. Using this strategy my friend and colleague Karl scored some cool loot from Logitech, including a BCC950 Conference Cam:
Tradeshow season is winding down, till things start up again in early Fall. Hopefully by then I’ll have some product news of my own to pitch – assuming of course I can pass up that innovative snack foods-fly fishing tie in …