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EDS Through New Eyes: Part 1

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

Networking: 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.

Education: 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.

Industry Improvement: 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 {complink 12888|TTI Inc.}’s social experiment at EDS.

12 comments on “EDS Through New Eyes: Part 1

  1. Nemos
    June 4, 2011

    Which of three pillars did you liked most and you find it very interesting ?

    From your description Ι distinguish the Networking part as an interesting and very well organized part of the EDS.

     

  2. SunitaT
    June 5, 2011

    Andy,

     I totally agree with you that industry development doesn't just happen on its own — it happens when a group tries something different. So what are the promising industry developments that you are expecting this time around from EDS?

  3. saranyatil
    June 6, 2011

    Its looks more positive towards networking side, this is what i feel.

  4. jbond
    June 6, 2011

    It sounds like you have a pretty good measuring system. It sounds like you were able to find the educational part out with a little digging. To me it seems like these types of shows typically fulfill the networking and social aspects fairly well. On top of many new products, people make good business connections that can lead to more future business.

  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    June 6, 2011

    Great point Andy–the attendees of EDS are a group that could foster innovation, even if they only meet once a year and set things in motion. EDS could be a great forum for hammering things out (such as do we change EDS?); determing if standards or common pactices need to be pursured for an industry issue; identifying the pressure points in the supply chain…I think the company to compnay connections work well, but as a industry, this year I didn't get the sense that there is a common cause bringing communities together.

  6. alawson
    June 6, 2011

    @Nemos — Its funny, people usually say its the networking side that brings them to a show. But I think shows post 9/11 have had to redefine themselves and offer much more. The educational benefits are about an even return with networking for me. Of course, this is only because I believe every show should act to move the industry forward. That one's a given. Thanks for the question.

  7. alawson
    June 6, 2011

    @tirlapur — For me, expectation for new developments was minimal–due to it being my first time. But with so many other shows latching on to the benefits of social media the last couple of years, I was curious to see if there was a role it would play there. And though there was some conversation, there is a great opportunity for improvement.

  8. alawson
    June 6, 2011

    @saranyatil — Networking takes on many forms at shows. It isn't just the closed-door meeting or the casual cocktail conversation.  Networking benefits can be had in keynote discussions, panels, common interest meetups, and over shared social streams. I described EDS to someone yesterday as something like a 'Choose Your own Adventure' book. Possibly by choice, there was no set storyline to bring the different voices of the industry together. I hear that the move to the Cosmopolitan hotel for next year's show will greatly improve this from a logistics perspective.

  9. alawson
    June 6, 2011

    @jbond — Education was a given for me. Whether I was to enjoy my time there or not, I was definitely going to get an education. I generally dig pretty hard in that area, because I think we all have valuable knowledge to share with one another. And you can't beat the 3-4 days when so many great minds in your industry are in one place for opportunities for learning. The improvement to be made here is to make it so I don't have to dig. Make it a platform you build upon. Get those with the knowledge to speak and share what they've learned. Doing that combines the pillars so that we are moving the industry forward through education. Thanks for your comment.

  10. alawson
    June 6, 2011

    @Barb — I love that word, 'forum'. A place where voices can be heard and people meet for the good of the movement. Very nice. And I agree, company to company looked to run very smoothly (if somewhat harried). Our challenge going forward is giving those in the meetings and out more reasons to engage.

  11. Anna Young
    June 7, 2011

    Andy,one good thing I noted from your account of the conference is that EDS met its objectives. It provided the forum for companies to connect. Afterall its about driving the industry forward.

    However, I noted your disapointment with the networking arrangement  when you said that ” 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 failure to create an “atmosphere for innovation”.Hopefully your next conference will reflect some of your expections.

     

     

  12. alawson
    June 7, 2011

    @Anna young — Thanks for the comment, Anna. I wouldn't go so far as disappointment and failure. There's a natrural lifecycle to things like tradeshows that follow patterns set by demand, the economy, changing capabilities, etc. My plan was to experience the show and, if I could, identify some opportunities for improvement based on what I've seen happen in this area for other industries. The show will improve based on feedback like this not just from one person, but from all those interested in its future. I encourage you and everyone with stake and opinion to voice what you think would make EDS a show you would attend.

    In fact, perhaps crowdsourcing is an option for ideas. 'Crowdsourcing' isn't a new or novel concept, but if done correctly can yield great results.  (For referencee, check out this article by Barbara Palmer on the Professional Convention Management Association's newsletter titled, “Crowdsourcing, Are We Thinking What I'm Thinking?”

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