Trade shows like UC Expo attract end users of UC technology looking for education on new offers, and vendors hoping to instigate a sale. However, a strategist working for a vendor has a very different experience.
Attending UC Expo in London is always a great experience because it’s different from North American trade shows. While American show organizers try their hardest to have speakers NOT give an infomercial for their company’s products, the Europeans seem to encourage it.
What European attendees hear is very different and in a way more straight-forward and informative. The horse’s mouth is no longer speaking in code. Audience members needn’t parse every statement through a filter. Everyone listens for what’s new from the speaker, but a strategist understands that what is said, regardless of how meandering the path, always maps back to the speaker’s existing or planned portfolio. But, what isn’t said is a red flag to shortcomings. Simply, the only reason they’re not talking about a capability the market expects is because they haven’t got it. For example, those who should but don’t talk about team collaboration or federated video, telegraph that they don’t have it. It’s too important to have been left out on purpose.
Also, events held far from corporate headquarters are less controlled. A lot fewer VPs from California flew into London than Orlando. This results in a less buttoned-up presentations and more approachable presenters … and more truth.
At UC Expo one major vendor’s channel partner started his presentation by listing the reasons not to buy the vendor’s product … and they were serious. What they were saying is that in their experience, this solution isn’t always a match. Potential end users were more apt to trust the speaker because of his honesty. While extremely informative, it’s not something the vendor would ever admit (but this strategist loved!).
Another vendor, with at best tangential ties to the UC market, spent 40 minutes speaking to 10 people about CRM and email. The takeaway is that end users in this market don’t see the vendor as credible (low attendance), this vendor’s current portfolio continues to lack a UC focus, and there is seemingly nothing on the horizon.
As a strategist, my recommendation to end users of any product is to listen to vendors speak in a variety of settings. Attend smaller in-person events both near and away from their home turf. And first and foremost, listen to what’s said and unsaid. Informed buyers are better buyers.