After a day of flight delays due to hailstorms at Dallas Fort Worth airport, I finally reached Las Vegas, venue of the annual Electronics Distribution Show (EDS).
From the second I walked into the hotel, I could see the immediate focus on connection. It makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, we are an industry of connections -- not just of parts, but of people. I tend to measure shows like EDS on three pillars: Networking, Education, and Industry Improvement, all of which I believe drive attendance, engagement, and satisfaction.
Getting Social at EDS
An industry show should offer ample opportunities to engage with your peers. There was plenty of networking to be done at the EDS. There were cocktail parties and post meeting meet-ups and dinners. What I noticed most was that the direction of the networking was decided and scheduled by the companies themselves.
I think the show and its attendees would benefit from a more robust online presence, where attendees and companies alike can log in far ahead of registration and begin making their plans for meet-ups and booth visits. At the show's end, this same platform could serve as the place where conversations and discussions can be continued and expanded. Existing social tools like LinkedIn work well.
There was a lack of the usual workshops and breakout sessions that contribute to educational element of a conference. However, we found education on a company-to-customer level, both in the meetings and on the show floor. Personally, I missed having panels and speakers. I like learning about how others handle situations that I face. I like to share knowledge with my followers and peers.
Sessions like these can have far-reaching effects. The lessons shared by one person on a network can make a difference in hundreds or thousands of businesses in the industry. This type of knowledge-sharing may seem old-school, but it's key to the success of many of the fastest moving areas of business.
Hands down, EDS is good for the industry. It met its objective of giving companies a place to connect away from the trials of daily work. And after several conversations with members of EDS and ECIA, it was obvious that their interests and desires are for the show to be a driver of the industry's growth. They are the groups that get the questions, and they want to be able to deliver the answers.
I think that the improvement to be made here is to create an atmosphere for innovation. Shows are the place to try new things, to meet new people, and to push the envelope by sparking fresh ideas and ways of doing business. I think sometimes we adopt a follower's mindset and forget that industry development doesn't just happen on its own -- it happens when a group tries something different, succeeds, and is emulated by the next group.
In Part 2, we'll consider the results of TTI Inc. ’s social experiment at EDS.