Friday, February 1, 2013

ITExpo Highlights

Time sure flies, and that's not a good thing when the weather is sooo nice in Miami Beach. ITExpo is finishing up this afternoon, but I need to get on my way now. Guess I won't be winning the Jeep, but you can't have it all, right?

Seen a little of everything this time around - all the sessions and speakers I heard were quite good, but attendance was variable. I ran 3 panels - 2 were well attended, and 1 hardly at all. Video seems like the hot topic - those sessions were busy, as was Ingate's SIP Trunking program and Crossfire's M2M tracks. I'm not the only one feeling this way, and it's no reflection on the content - just a lot of demands on our time. Between visiting the show floor, catching keynotes, doing briefings, stepping outside for some sun, networking in the hallways and dropping in on sessions, there's a lot of ground to cover. This means attendance of your session has a lot to do with what else is going on at that time, and every conference has to deal with that.

Overall, TMC does a great job keeping things moving along, but I think the stress level would be lighter if there were fewer things to be running to. No time was wasted, and everything I saw was worth getting to - just wish I could have seen more.

With that, I have a highlight and a lowlight to share.

The highlight, as expected, was John Sculley's onstage interview during StartupCamp7. Larry Lisser has done a great job with this, and it always draws a full room. Quickly, the format is to have 4 startups do a 5 minute pitch, then take questions from an expert panel as well as the audience. There were two winners - the audience went with Verbalizeit, and the panel went with Thruview. I liked Thruview the best as well, but none really did that much for me. Seems like everybody is in the mobile apps business now, but they all face the same challenge of monetizing a cool idea. Enough from me on that - you can read up on all this on the Expo website.

Back to John Sculley. I didn't know much about him, but his story sure is a good one. I actually found his Pepsi experience more interesting than his time at Apple. Sometimes you have go way back to revisit ideas that really matter now, and he's a great example of that. Looks like he was the driving force that made Pepsi a major player based on a simple twist of marketing logic - "don't sell the product, sell the experience".

With so much commoditization in the communications space, this is probably the most important message to impart. If it could work with Pepsi, it sure can work with UC, video, social media, mobility, etc.  That's my big takeaway and highlight. When engineers run a company, it's all about the product; but when marketers are in charge, it's all about the experience. Ideally you want a balance, and that's why Steve Jobs was so successful. Obviously, it's hard to do, but it absolutely should be driving every company in our space.

Lowlight? Well, for me, it was my panel yesterday, which ended up having two speakers - BroadSoft and Metaswitch. How often does that ever happen? In headier times, this would have a been an SRO session, with everyone anxious to see how they would square off. Well, we played to a near empty room, so we ended up talking about more mundane things. Too bad - this could have been a very lively panel, but we were up against too many other things at that time, and that's the way it goes. Too bad. Maybe next time we'll be the headliners, and then we'll really have to be ready. I'm up for it!

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