Greetings from the headquarters of Light Reading in New York City. It's absolutely freezing here currently, but in just a few short months myself and the rest of the LR staff will all be enjoying the delightful June sunshine in Chicago, at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event 2015. I'm hoping you can meet me and the other 3,000 friends there for a ginger beer and some high-end business technology strategizing.
If you went to our BTE event last year, you'll know that it's unlike any other event in the world. The approach taken by most event companies to trade shows hasn't changed all that much since market day in the dark ages -- get a big open room, fill it with vendor booths, sell any old crap.
Well, in the 21st century, technology purchasers don't want to be "sold" anything at a trade show -- they're on the hunt for information that will make their companies more profitable. And the sellers (the ones that used to stand behind ye olde market stalls, and now sit on $250,000 booths at Mobile World Congress), don't want to "sell a product" at the show -- they want to engage a potential customer in the beginning of conversation; one that will continue for months after the event is over.
At Light Reading we know this because we surveyed the people who go to our events about what they want -- I know, radical, right? -- and they told us they don't want to traipse around a giant hall full o' booths. That's why we "banned the booth" at our Big Telecom Event last year (and this year!) and built the show floor ourselves -- making it open plan and interactive and cool and amazing, featuring a demo floor showing our attendees how the latest technology can either save money or make money on high-capacity networks.
But that's just us. The rest of the event companies are busy still pretending it's the dark ages, selling booth space and, quite possibly, opting for a spot of casual witch-burning. Why? They tell me it's because they don't think they'll make any money from events without booths and might actually have to get off their bums and do some work to provide content and value and all that sort of irritating and expensive "stuff."
Well, the Big Telecom Event did make money last year and the attendees loved it, which meant the sponsors were ecstatic, and 80% of them renewed for this year on the spot, including leading companies such as Cisco Systems and Intel (so take that and stick it in your mandolin, medieval event types).
In the true LR spirit we're taking all of that money and re-investing it in this year's event. To start with we've moved to a spectacular custom-built event facility in McCormick Place. And this year's event will have twice as many attendees as last year -- at least 3,000 delegates. The demo floor is also twice as large as last year -- with 100 leading companies.
But it's not just about numbers -- as with last year's show, we are committed to making sure that we attract the most qualified telecom audience in the world. Over 60% of the visitors will be from service providers, enterprises and other purchasers of network equipment and services (think municipality, utility, entertainment).
How are we going to get them there? Just like last year, it's all about providing content that they need… about making money from next-gen communications. BTE 2015 will feature a four-track conference covering everything from virtualization, to analytics, mobile, OSS/BSS, IoT, cyber security, gigabit cities and everything in between. We have presentations from the world's leading communications service providers, including AT&T, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Level 3 Communications, Verizon Communications, Google, CenturyLink, and many more.
Light Reading sits in the middle of the communications community, and when people come to our show, it's as much about networking with their peers as it is about peer-to-peer networking. This year's event provides a ton of ways to do that, including a Battle of the Bands, with a special surprise multi-platinum award winning musical guest; a World Cup 5-a-side charity soccer tournament overseen by Arsenal legend Bob Wilson; and, of course, the industry-leading Leading Lights award program, which this year is taking place at the Chicago Museum of Natural History, the one with the really big T-Rex. Awesome.
So, don't be a dinosaur -- or a medievalist for that matter -- and join us for this year's biggest yet BTE event: It wouldn't be the same without you.
And, if you want to enter a soccer team for the World Cup or a band for the Battle of the Bands play off, just email me directly -- ([email protected]). Obviously I'm running these activities myself -- why on earth wouldn't I?!
— Stephen Saunders, Founder and CEO, Light Reading