A little note off the beaten track of this blog, but not too far astray…
Seattle and the Puget Sound get socked in by some weather, a little snow and ice and we all run for our tea, pillows, and blankies, sending out earnest WAH (“working at home”) messages. Sure it’s chump change compared to the kind of weather hitting the NE, Midwest, and other parts of the country, but hey: you gotta cut us NW temperate-zone types a little slack. Thought it would be an occasion to reflect on some of the thinking out there about social media and what it means for the tech business.
Of course, you’ve heard that Apple is abandoning MacWorld after this year’s edition–per the press release:
Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.
For some, like Scoble, this signals the imminent demise of big trade shows, like MacWorld, CES, and presumably others. They see the rise of social media as part and parcel of the abandonment of big trade shows, as Scoble opines:
What’s killing them? The Internet. You can launch a product live now from a living room. Thanks to Stickam, Ustream, Qik, Kyte, YouTube, Flixwagon, Viddler, Vimeo, SmugMug, etc and blogs.
I’m skeptical that the social media phenomenon is really the culprit here, as I’d guess that the economy’s downturn and the unique brand position of Apple may be more determinative factors. That said, I’d love to see an analysis of how large-venue trade shows are faring over time, relative to other modes of interacting with industry players and peers, online or off. I suspect there will always continue to be a great value in attending in-person events, above and beyond the presence (or absence) of industry giants; the main thing is the connection people can make in person with others, in a way that they cannot online, despite the sometimes hyperventilating promises of the mavens of online social networking/media tools, such as Facebook or YouTube.
Now to bring it back around to good ol’ System Center.
As you may be aware, the Microsoft Management Summit is coming ’round again in April, again in Las Vegas. This year’s theme: Physical, Virtual, Powerful. This, while a successful and growing event over the past several years, will no doubt face challenges this year with the economy being as it is, belts being tightened no doubt across the industry. Regardless, the value of the event remains clear: where else can you meet in person thousands of your peers in the IT systems management space, get some great training and resources, and see what new things companies are offering to help you do your jobs?
Let me underscore this point about in-person connection: As critical as a well maintained Internet presence is to reaching customers and as intriguing the potential of social media for extending that reach and enhancing online connections, nothing quite glues strong business and personal relationships together like a little human contact. I can’t really speak to big events like CES, which may in fact be quite alienating for their participants, but I can say with some confidence that the smaller conferences + trade shows tend to offer a kind of value that simply isn’t superseded or substituted elsewhere. When we succeed in enabling and supporting the kinds of connections you get at events like MMS with online tools that complement and extend relationships and networks–it also works the other way around–then I think we will have struck the right balance. This is a happy state we are working toward. It is not, nor should it be, a question of one over the other, traditional in-person events vs. the newfangled “Intertubes”; they are part of a continuum of resources and experiences that help you become more knowledgeable, better connected, and ultimately more successful in your jobs.
Let me just leave you, before the holiday break–Happy Holidays, everyone! thanks for reading and engaging this past year!–with a humble limerick I sent around to my team in mail this morning, as part of my WAH message:
There once was a town known as Redmond
That could be reached when it pour’d or it sunn’d.
But when the snow fell,
And the roads happened to gel,
It became the dacha Zhivago abandon’d.
– dave //