A guy whose been kicking around the EDA industry for a LONG time, Dan Nenni, just launched his own blog. On Linkedin, he calls himself an "independent consulting professional" which means he's a hired gun for small companies. I've bumped into him a couple of times over the years and I'm glad he's discovered social media as a tool for self promotion. Hope it gets him a steady cash flow and helps him reinvent himself.
In his first post, he takes on what needs to change at the Design Automation Conference, which promotes the EDA industry and while he has ideas that have been lobbed at the organizers for several years, I was disappointed that he didn't look at the potential of social media to accomplish the same thing... at much lower cost ... with much higher results..
Dan makes some excellent points about the value, or relative lack of, inherent in modern trade shows. It's expected that investment in even technology conferences, like DAC, is going to drop by as much as 45 percent this next year, and even private conferences are going to be scaled back. But EDA companies are still investing more than half of their marketing budgets in this conference. And I don't think it's worth the investment.
What any industry needs is a market conversation. That means talking AND listening. There is no real listening at trade shows. There is only talking. Customers walk up to booths and people ask the same questions without listening to the answers. Vendors nod their heads and show solutions to questions unanswered. Customers have specific problems that the tools don't really solve and the tools are made to solve problems that are not the most pressing (yeah, I know I'm going to get lots of arguments from the vendors on that one). But social media enforces that needed conversation, because if you don't listen, you get nothing back.
For trade shows to get back viability and purpose, they need to create an ongoing conversation. If they throw stuff out and no one responds, that means no one is listening. Change the subject. Adapt. Evolve. Be like Dan Nenni. He's hasn't really gotten what social media can do, but he's giving it a try and he'll be ahead of most of the people in his industry.