Supercomm: Virtual Gear

7:50 AM -- CHICAGO -- Supercomm 2009 -- Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) is showing a glimpse of how future tradeshows might be conducted, and it's more interesting than any Tellabs gear in the booth.

I can say that because there's no Tellabs gear in the booth. None. Instead, Tellabs is using high-definition touchscreens to provide 3D views of equipment (you can spin it around!), data sheets, and PowerPoint presentations.

It makes sense. There's less of a need for people to see gear at these shows; they've already seen and investigated it on the Web. (Plus, the stuff doesn't work half the time, Tellabs executive VP Daniel Kelly quips.)

The tradeoff is that it's expensive to do, at least for now. The entire setup, including the touchscreens, the 3D photographing of equipment, and the loading of documents into the computers, was done by a company called Kaon Interactive. The overall cost is about the same as shipping gear to the show, Tellabs events manager Scott Lee tells me.

It's going to get cheaper to do, naturally. Tellabs is already enthusiastic about the Kaon system and its potential beyond tradeshows. "You could get to the point where you have sales and marketing people, if they have touchscreen laptops, do this stuff" on the road, Kelly says.

One of the themes I'm considering at Supercomm is the future of tradeshows in general. The exhibits have become less important than having a common place where vendors and customers can meet up. Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) eschewed booths in favor of meeting rooms this year. As it gets cheaper to bring the gear into the booth virtually, I'd expect more companies to try something like Kaon.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 3:53:41 PM
re: Supercomm: Virtual Gear

It was the same at Broadband World Forum -- there were a lot of people there but few were on the show floor. Folk were there to meet up - that's why having some genuinely interesting presentations, decent coffee, great Internet access, and a decent number of people are the key ingredients these days for a good show. 

GF 12/5/2012 | 3:53:36 PM
re: Supercomm: Virtual Gear

Thanks for the excellent post. As a point of clarification, while the costs of the modeling and equipment may, in some cases, be equal to shipping of the equipment (and this depends on the number of products, of course) the virtual solutions are 100% re-usable. That is, they can then be used for the next trade show. And the next, etc., etc.  Once the assets have been created, they are re-used over and over, with no incremental costs. So the cost-benefit is huge, considering that the cost of shipping products (plus drayage, and product acquisition costs, and people expenses to set up/dismantle the equipment) is a per-show expense that has no reuse - the financial advantages of the virtual solution are enormous. Many companies even use this Kaon solution in their sales offices, executive briefing centers, and at a variety of customer/analyst/product launch events - all without incurring any new costs associated with content development. These cost advantages augment the superior customer experiences (being able to inspect and operate on the virtual product models much more easily and completely than taking the physical products apart, for example.)  Marketing and sales personnel also prefer this approach because the detailed benefit/feature product/solution information within these virtual product models provides a concise, consistent, and accurate way to deliver key differentiation knowledge at every customer touch point - regardless of the location.

In the interests of full disclosure, this post comes from a Kaon employee.

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