Friday, October 5, 2012

ITExpo West 2012 - Key Takeaways

Have only had a taste of what's on tap at TMC's flagship event here in Austin. For the time I've been here, it's been a blur of briefings, panels, keynotes and short walkabouts on the show floor. Phew. You really can't do justice to this event in a day and a half - it's longer for a good reason - you need time to explore all that's going on in this space.

As such, my impressions are only based on a limited set of experiences. First off, I'll reiterate my take from last year's Expo, and say that Austin is a good choice in moving on from L.A. Am not so sure calling it the "West" Expo is the best label, but that's what it is, and I like it.

I'm not alone in saying that horizontal events like this create stress before you even get there. There are several sub-events with specific content - WiFi, cloud, contact center, M2M, etc. - but geez, you just can't cover 'em all unless you send a big team. For every great session I see, there are many others running at the same time that I'll never see. The underlying message for TMC is that I hope they can find a way to make this content available to both attendees who can't see everything and of course, the much broader audience who can't get there. Monetizing this is always the tricky part, but it's shame that a lot of these sessions ultimately play to a small audience.

With that said, I liked what I saw, and the panels I was involved with were quite good. I really enjoyed speaking at the SUITS event - this is one of the newer sub-events, and hopefully it will grow. I believe there are a lot of participants at ITExpo who could benefit from patent monetization, but they just don't understand how it works or are even aware of the possibilities in the right hands. Similarly, the multichannel contact center panel I moderated had a solid lineup, and I can tell that the audience took away some good ideas.

Time is always short as an analyst at these events, and in my limited time there, I was kept busy meeting with many vendors, including Siemens, AudioCodes, Vertical Communications, Digitalk, Sonus,, Sangoma and 8x8. There were plenty more I wanted to brief with, but they'll have to wait until another time.

Another highlight was StartupCamp6, which always draws a big crowd. This year featured Mike Tessler as the main attraction, and he's done a great job taking BroadSoft from struggling startup to a profitable public company - something only a handful of execs in our space have been able to do. The format was especially nice - a fireside chat setup, led by Scott Wharton, BroadSoft's former CMO. They had a great discussion about the trials and tribulations of growing a startup, and I'm sure this was a nice inspiration to the many hopeful startups that are drawn to this event time after time.

That's all I have to share, as I'm flying back today. Even with the bits I saw, there's a lot to digest, so you can imagine what you'd have to sift through over the full duration. In short, I liked what I saw, and am sure I missed a lot of content that was just as good. I don't think there's an easy answer to this, but I'd much rather have this problem than nothing to choose from. TMC has managed to carve out a nice niche over the years, and this market has a lot of learning to do, so I hope they keep their focus. I don't expect that to change, but it sure would be nice if there was a way to leverage all the content that falls under this big tent. Friendly food for thought, right?

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