Too much of a good thing
Andy Wilson Editor at Large
Last month, Vision Systems Design attended the Automated Imaging Association (AIA) Vision Show in Santa Clara, CA. At the same time, another imaging-related trade show, DSP World, was held by Miller-Freeman in San Diego, CA. Then, the week after, SPIE chose to hold Photonics East and Electronic Imaging International in Boston, MA. Companies that exhibited at the Vision Show were more focused on machine-vision applications. For companies that exhibited at DSP World, image processing was only part of their business. Exhibitors at Electronic Imaging International were from vision and optics companies.
Good news, bad news
In one sense, the news that three large trade shows related to image processing can occur in a matter of two weeks is good. It`s an endorsement of the folks who predict a continuing strong economy and increasing sales of OEM equipment. But that`s as far as the good news goes.
The bad news is that due to a lack of finite trade-show personnel and booths, in addition to limited budgets, many companies opted for only one show. That was distinctly bad news for systems integrators wishing to discover the latest in OEM equipment. Do show organizers really expect you to take three days off and spend $2000 to fly across the country and back searching for information?
Unfortunately, the number of trade shows is impacting the vision industry in other ways. Many trade shows now organize technical papers and sessions to run concurrently with the exhibition. Because of this, technical presenters are in high demand--so much so that organizers of such sessions find it difficult to obtain new material, using speakers that recirculate existing material like air on an airplane. Rather than promote the vision industry as an evolving, thriving business, the resulting lack of new material stifles anything creative.
Whose fault is all this? The blame lies with show organizers who do not think before they plan trade-show events. And here, unfortunately, it`s the "last man in" who is to blame. Scheduling a trade show at the same time other well-established shows are taking place used to be taboo. But now, in the glowing economy of the 1990s, it seems like anything goes. This nonsense has to stop. And the only people that can make it happen are the companies involved in the imaging business themselves. Unfortunately, in a world of intense competition, it`s unlikely that companies will wish to cooperate to bring their potential customers closer together.
What should organizers do?
So, what could trade-show organizers do to make life easier for potential attendees? First, the senior executives of SPIE, AIA, and Miller-Freeman should discuss planning these events far in advance. After all, holding competing trade shows simultaneously can`t be beneficial to anyone. Holding three trade shows three months apart rather than in a period of two weeks would benefit exhibitors, conference organizers, and attendees alike.
Show organizers should also be doing more. Rather than hold huge annual or semiannual meetings, organizers should realize that many professionals simply do not have the time or money to attend anything but local trade shows. Local trade shows are a relatively low-cost way to introduce products to specific regions in the USA and overseas, and, as such, they can be very successful. Local table-top events would bring the trade show to the buyer(not the buyer to the trade show.