Industry Events: What Are They Good For?

There was a time, not that long ago, when the only real way to find out about new developments in the global communications technology sector was to book a flight and head to a trade show or conference to see (but not always touch) physical products, see service demonstrations and discover the bigger picture. And go to the parties.

The first major event I visited was the ITU Telecom show in Geneva in 1999, which attracted about 200,000 visitors, saw the likes of Alcatel spend tens of millions of dollars building booths larger in physical scale than some contemporary industry events, and saw the likes of Diana Ross (at the Nortel party) and Bo Diddley (in the Nokia village marquee) perform at lavish vendor bashes. They don't do 'em like that any more…

The largest gathering these days is GSM Association (GSMA)'s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where about 70,000 industry folks risk their personal belongings to travel to and from the extensive show halls over the course of four days. (OK, yes, the security has improved in the past few years…)

Different Drinks at Shows These Days
The alcoholic excesses of trade shows past are long gone -- but you can still get a great cup of coffee from Daisy Rollo, Light Reading's official caffeine supplier, on the Spirent stand at Mobile World Congress.
The alcoholic excesses of trade shows past are long gone -- but you can still get a great cup of coffee from Daisy Rollo, Light Reading's official caffeine supplier, on the Spirent stand at Mobile World Congress.

What makes MWC such a hit? Well, folks aren't going there just to find out what 4G radio access network (RAN) equipment and smartphones are currently available. The main reason, I'd suggest, is because so many other people with similar interests -- mobile networks, devices, applications, business strategies, tapas, and so on -- are all there too. Really, it's about the people -- we go to Barcelona to meet, greet, listen, share and learn.

And while some of that comes from the podium or from booth presentations, most of it comes from face-to-face meetings and from networking with peers.

MWC is a great place to do that, as is the TeleManagement Forum's Management World event, which returned to its spiritual home of Nice, France, this year. The main focus of that event is on the various developments in Service Provider IT (SPIT), which, as we've been saying for years, is just as critical as the telcos' physical infrastructure. The numbers are much smaller (about 4,000 people) but it punches above its weight in terms of the importance of the engagements available. And, of course, it's in the south of France. In May. There's a reason that town is called Nice.

In my opinion, those are the two main, broad events on the annual calendar for the majority of communications service provider (CSP) executives.

Of course there are many others (too many to be sustainable, it always seems), including CTIA, The Cable Show, OFC (now without the NFOEC name extension), Broadband World Forum and Light Reading's very own Ethernet & SDN Expo in New York, which I genuinely rate (along with many others who don't have a vested interest) as one of the very worthwhile events to attend (the program this year is knockout … OK, shameless plug over).

But these are just a few of the ones that I would regard as still worthy -- the question is, which events do you always have in your calendar? If any?

Share your views on the message board below and if you're among the first 250 people to post a message (before August 23) you get a new Light Reading T-shirt and the chance to win a tablet. (Please take a moment to read the contest rules.)

Good luck! (Please note -- you must be a registered member of the Light Reading community to use the message boards.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Page 1 / 10   >   >>
speedo1456 7/19/2014 | 6:14:54 PM
No events for me Events like these are Ok to see whats new on the market. But for the quality of new products it's not so valuable. We from Mafillia ofcourse are vere interrested and need the newest technology available. But before purchasing it's always better to read consumers and other reviews like these.
pdonegan67 9/5/2013 | 4:29:25 AM
The best kinds of events Without a doubt the best kinds of events are those where people use it as a forum to comment and share insights objectively - above all without aggressively promoting their own agenda and especially not their own products.

One great example of an event that is organized in this way is Light Reading's second annual conference on Mobile Network Security that I will be hosting in New York on December 5th. Contact your Light Reading sales representative for the few remaining sponsorship opportunities now !
jwoloz902 9/4/2013 | 2:09:52 PM
Networking Is What it is All About Industry events are the best way to meet, greet, esperience, and learn what the pulse of the is at any given time.  We can only get this in a live forum and out of the comfort of our offices

Love the new look of LightReading.  Keep up the great work.
jessicaz 8/25/2013 | 10:52:18 AM
Tally of the results? Great that you got so many responses (giveaway didn't hurt either) - wondering if you guys can post a tally of the results..?
vishal87 8/23/2013 | 11:15:30 PM
Specialized Events + Couple Major Ones Hi Ray et al,

I've found the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress in Paris to be a key event for those in the IP/MPLS eco-system -- it's a chance to hear the latest, catch-up with colleagues, and, as many have mentioned, get a concentrated shot of the developments.

I've been involved in it since it's inception in 1999, and have had the privilege of Chairing a number of it's signature debates over the years - the last being on (what else!) SDN (check out some thoughts we covered prior to the debate/panel here).

On a related note, I do want to add that having more events is not necessarily bad - niche events serve a good purpose of connecting those deeply involved in specific areas of telecom (or other technologies).

What I do feel, however, is that the organizers of these events and the organization of these events often leave(s) quite a bit to be desired. While the front-end of the event is good (so they continue), the back-end organization is often poor and lacking professionalism (of course, an evaporation of professionalism seems a general malaise in our industry/society, so perhaps not too surprising!)
jdbower 8/23/2013 | 9:33:30 PM
I wasn't going to attend Interop... But then I took a peak at the attendee list. It's pretty much the same as the list of customers for my service. I used to be a booth babe at trade shows. I got to arrive early, set up the demo, show off my wares, and then stay late to clean up. I can't say it was a rousing success from my viewpoint, I was trapped in the booth so I saw very little around the state of the industry and the new leads from these shows weren't fantastic, but it was an excuse to get the customers we had previous contact with alone for dinners while they were in a boondoggle mood and *that* was the valuable part. I'm no longer in a sales role and I'm not presenting so my experience this time around will be very different, I'm sure.
RitchBlasi 8/23/2013 | 12:17:38 PM
Events As someone who has been to more trade shows than he wants to admit (doing it much longer than 1999), it does amaze me how there continues to be so many out there and that they have some good representation as far as vendors/exhibitors and attendees.  But yes Ray, you are correct in saying there are way too many but do to industry fragmentation its almost like going to a doctor - specialists in everything.  And yes, as someone who spent his last 14 years for a top-tier mobile carrier, MWC is the creme-de-la-creme.  The first time I attended that show it was clear that folks who attended the show came first to do business and next to party.  I don't find that the same with some of the big US mobile shows.  And you can tell from the announcements coming out of those shows - little if none - of their imortance.  Maybe CTIA will reinvent itself next year in that it will stop having two shows and move the main show to Sept, right before the 4th buying spree begins.  I"m with you, the fewer shows the better -- just have a few that appeal to all interested parties.



gsuser 8/22/2013 | 11:16:01 PM
Information Super Saturation Best part of the events is the networking with others in the industry, but a close second is the ability to get super saturated with information in a way that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
BinuA 8/22/2013 | 9:19:34 PM
To meet people and learn fast             Industry events are good to meet new people. And get introduced to new technologies which may be already known to top brass.. but not to middle level people..

        And now a days becuase of webinar and industry update websites like light reading, most of the people already has idea about what is happening in industry .. But in Industry evetns, we can touch ,feel and learn about new developments.. 
pdecker 8/22/2013 | 8:01:14 PM
Re: Niche events still matter I'm a sucker for CLEO, but that may just be because it seems to be in San Jose every couple years and it touches my inner scientist whenever I find slots not filled with more pertinent engineering-y optical networking sessions.  Been meaning to get out to OFC for awhile, just hasn't worked out though.
Page 1 / 10   >   >>
Sign In