Fira Barcelona is like many expo spaces—it’s big. At the 2017 industry week in Spain, the space was filled with eight major shows at the same time; among them, the IoT Solutions World Congress (IoT SWC).
Three years ago, director Roger Bou saw the hype and potential of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), but a lack of solutions. Everyone knew what could be connected and how many things would be connected, but not how connecting things solved problems. He sat down for lunch with the CEO of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) to share his vision of a central live event for companies to share what they are doing with IIoT. Companies would come to discuss specific solutions in various verticals.
In the first year, the show was about 1/3 of the size it is today. There weren’t any solutions being presented, but people came to learn and make strong connections with key industry leaders. In the second year, the show doubled, and companies presented IoT solutions for different markets and prototypes. In 2017, the show was in its third year. It is growing at 30%, connecting more industry leaders and hosting more panel discussions and talks. There are even added sections for test beds.
Here, Bou outlines four tips show coordinators can follow to position their event for success and growth.
1. Find balance between visitor and exhibitor expectations
While some event coordinators focus separately on goals for the exhibitor and visitor, Bou suggests coordinators try to understand the needs of both exhibitors and visitors at the same time. He says that exhibitors want three things:
- Obtain sales leads
- Positioning to align their brands with similar or complementary companies, and present products to the appropriate audience
- To network with potential customers and other companies
Bou suggests show coordinators know their audience and exhibitors before the show, understanding that even at technology shows, only 50% of attendees may be directly engaged in engineering, testing, and other technical roles. Many attendees may be salespeople, CEOs, and managers. It is important to including exhibitors that can entertain the expectations of various professionals.
2. Include interactive and hands-on exhibits that effectively demonstrate the technology
Attractions like educational workshops and keynote speakers can help strengthen a show’s appeal because they offer unique opportunities for visitors to experience and discuss specific solutions to common problems and strategies. Make sure exhibits can demonstrate the following two things:
- New technology: what’s out there, what available, can it improve a company?
- How Technology is being used and how it can benefit specific verticals.
At the IoT SWC many visitors engaged in the test bed section.
Flowserve Pump test bed highlights a compelling use cases— predictive maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime in critical assets. With IoT analytics and machine learning, manufacturers can know when and how an asset is going to fail.
3. Make sure exhibitor and visitor interests are aligned with the show’s theme
A good event will have a clear and defined position. Try to avoid accepting exhibitors and visitors that do not fit the show’s theme to bring in revenue. This will blur the show’s specific vision or purpose, and will decrease the value of an event overall.
For shows like the IoT SWC that sponsor exhibitors applying IoT solutions to various markets, show coordinators should make sure exhibitors specify their platform’s relevance to a specific area.
4. Find good partners
It was essential to find the right partners. You can start a new event or product if you have the capital and time, but having strong partners will exponentially grow a product or event. The IIC was key in helping to bring in the right people and expand the IoT SWC’s reach to attract valuable exhibitors, and get visitor’s attention.
For example, this year, the IoT SWC reached Blockchain companies that compliment implementation of IoT. Blockchain software can help with processing high volume data from multiple connected devices, helping to grow the IoT in more markets. By networking with Blockchain companies, industry players could learn how to integrate Blockchain with their IoT solutions.
When a event is well planned connections flow and relationships are made. There is something emails and texts seem to lack. When everyone is able to meet at a central location in person it can accelerate these connections and strengthen relationships. You never know who you might bump into at lunch or talk to at a lecture. This is one way that make events valuable and will continue to exist in business and technology.