What role do in-house events and industry fairs play today?

Industry meetings: Do only the specialists survive?

By Jörg Hecke, Product Marketing Manager at SEH Computertechnik

20 years ago, anyone who was working in the Information and Telecommunications branch knew the big players: COMDEX Fall in Las Vegas, SYSTEMS in Munich, Orbit-iEX in Basel (later in Zurich) and of course the CeBIT in Hanover.

The turn of the century consolidation of the Information and Telecommunications industry has led for these large events to die out one after the other. Today they only exist in the distant memories of many industry professionals. Through the modern and often lucrative mergers of industry-related companies, the power of specialized trade fairs such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and company organized events by trendsetters such as Apple and Google, has led the number of independent exhibitors to steadily decrease. Only CeBIT has been able to survive because its creators have been able to revamp the event again and again. Whether this survival battle will continue to be successful will be determined over the next couple of years. Rapidly declining visitor and exhibitor numbers are indications of the opposite.

Looking positively into the future, let us summarize why SEH Computertechnik GmbH continues to build on these events and actively participate. Again, this year at CeBIT, surrounded by companies from the industry, we were able to prove that SEH and its core business are still innovative as our product portfolio continues to expand. This was especially evident in the constant flood of interested parties at our stand. In addition to many interesting discussions, product presentations and product launches, we can flaunt our collection of qualitative leads and requests for test devices. But why has the success of the SEH developed so clearly against the generally prevailing trend of stagnating or declining business success? Is our company an exception? Do we have a better concept? We briefly depart from the large fairs and devote ourselves to a consistently successful type of industry meeting: the in-house exhibition.

As always, we participated in the ALSO Channel Trends + Visions in Bochum as an exhibitor. According to ALSO, the Channel Trends + Visions is the largest ICT trade fair in Germany- and this is quite plausible. It attracts more than 4,000 visitors and more than 150 exhibitors annually to more than 10,000 m² exhibition space in Bochum. This year, the 10th anniversary of the in-house event was under the motto "Celebrate Business". And much was celebrated. As in the years before, we led some good discussions, collected quality leads and connected with many potential clients.

Could the ALSO Channel Trends + Visions therefore be an alternative to CeBIT? We believe that these two events complement each other in a special way. The international audience meets in Hanover. For industry-specific, local and personal contact, you meet at an event like ALSO.

Another option is to attend the ComLine face2face event, which took place successfully for the 9th time in a row! This year's event also celebrated an anniversary. At the Robinson Club in Fleesensee, together with many other manufacturers and distributors we looked back on the 25 years of ComLine. This consistency is no accident. Again, the success is certainly due to the target group-specific orientation of the event. While celebrating ComLine’s anniversary, we were also able to network and do good business.

Speaking of good business: we even travel abroad to partner events. Travelling to events abroad, like the one from our partner OLLY IT in St. Petersburg, would not be an option, if we weren’t certain of their success. We already participated in their event in Moscow last year. This year we were able to take two new products with us: our INU-100 and our myUTN-2500.

This is similar to the DMS Tokyo. Our product focus there were the dongle and device servers. For example, we introduced the USB Deviceserver myUTN-2500 as a new product. Having visited this fair for the first time we cannot argue in favor. But we were not disappointed: the trip to the Far East was very successful. For example, our dongle servers were requested by interested parties for testing. Talks with co-exhibitors confirmed our assessment: trade fairs, foreign trade fairs and their relevance and importance are not to be scoffed at.

However, regional events play an important role for us too. We also visited and participated in the WSCAD Engineering & Automation Forum 2017 in Berlin and Dusseldorf. Nowhere else in the vicinity are there so many trade visitors. Therefore, the WSCAD is a mandatory event for SEH. This year, our product focus was on our new industrial USB device server INU-100 and on our dongle servers.

For us as a German manufacturer, we see fairs, forums and branch meetings continuing to play a major role within our daily business. We regard these events as a key element in our marketing strategy. However, we believe that a sharp rethinking of some organizers of large trade fairs is necessary, to keep up with developing trends. And with no doubt this points in the direction of specialization.

Now we come back to our initial question: Why would visitors come to see us in Fleesensee, Bochum or Tokyo? Because they are interested in our products, which do not have to compete with non-industry exhibitors, as is often the case in the large Hanover exhibition halls. At ALSO, ComLine and Co., however, we can present and discuss our topics "dongle management" or "enterprise airPrint" in a calm environment. At CeBIT, we were one of the few exhibitors who still presented real hardware. That was our biggest advantage. To exhibit something tangible in the showcases is very rare at these major events. In most cases, IT solutions are presented which can only be shown over a screen. Perhaps you will see a sports car to see or other eyecatchers, which do not necessarily fit in with the company concept. This is not the rule at a house fair. We like to stand out based on our competence, solutions and knowledge, not by gimmicks and giveaways.

Direct conversation with customers and interested parties is essential for us. This way we learn where they have IT problems, what desires they have, discuss their questions about our products and find out where SEH can help them. This works better in a smaller environment than in the mass center of a CeBIT.

Finally, I would like to clarify: this is no veto against CeBIT. On the contrary, this fair is and remains important for us. The organizers are doing well to always keep an eye on the "small competition" in order not to be overtaken by others. COMDEX, Orbit-iEX and Co. have paid for this error.

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