For next week's issue, PC Solutions editor Tom Allen and I will report from Comdex in Las Vegas, which is certainly the world's most important reseller event.
At this time of year we're subjected to something of a rash of trade shows. In the US, Networld+Interop Atlanta has just come and gone as has PC IT/Interact in Melbourne. By the time you read this, Comdex will be in full swing and the week after that Networld+Interop takes place in Sydney.
Australian Reseller News, by the way, will once again be running its Reseller lounge - dubbed the Reseller Rendezvous - at the Sydney show. If you're attending the event, drop in, take a break and have a drink. Members of ARN's editorial team will be on the stand, so if you have the time, we'd love to have a chat and find out what's on your mind.
There have been a fair share of critics who have predicted the demise of the trade show. In this day and age, where information is so freely available and the Internet enables you to instantaneously research any topic, trade shows hardly play the same role they used to. They are no longer the place you go to find out about the latest and greatest.
To their credit though, trade show organisers have responded to the changing times. Like resellers, they are realising they have to add value. Most exhibitions nowadays are attached to seminar programs and this seems to be where the real value now lies.
When deciding whether a show is worthwhile, it's more important to check out the list of keynote speakers and tutorials than the list of exhibitors.
Of course, that's not to say the actual exhibition is worthless. People will always want to touch and feel new products and talk about new and interesting offerings.
Lack of numbers
With this in mind, it's interesting to note the number of network resellers and integrators exhibiting or who have any sort of presence at Networld+Interop. Or should I say, the lack of numbers.
This is another indication of how the channel needs to start paying more attention to marketing. While I realise that exhibiting and advertising and most marketing exercises cost money, unless the channel begins to realise its importance it is going to be eaten alive. This week's lead feature highlights how the vendor community is increasingly aiming for its piece of the services pie. They will be successful, because they are good marketers.
The channel needs to understand its worth and make the rest of the industry realise it too. After all, the smartest people in the industry typically work for resellers and integrators. Rather than listening to a big exec from a vendor sprout about his company's grand vision, surely users would get more from listening to an independent integrator explaining implementation or design issues surrounding the latest projects. Or on a smaller scale, resellers and regional dealers can do things like speaking at user group meetings and so on. If you learn anything from companies like Microsoft, it should be that marketing expertise is at least as important as technical know-how.