Computer Shows… what happened to them?

A couple of our consultants attended a local computer show this week and reported back on the lack of software companies exhibiting. Not only that, there were more exhibitionists (you know what I mean!) than punters and the whole thing seemed to be just another opportunity for old computer-industry pals to shoot the breeze and share a skinny latte.

I do miss the big computer shows of days gone by. Who can forget the Which Computer? Show or the Accounting Software Show at the NEC in Birmingham?

Sadly, they disappeared for various reasons: cost – these shows were expensive and after the Year2000 debacle, software companies never really had the money to throw around anymore; business user apathy – most of what you want to find out about systems can be done through a good trawl of the web; and suppliers who decided they could provide the same ‘show’ experience via a webinar (which they can’t).

For me, these computer shows of old, showcasing the latest and greatest in accounting software, business intelligence, CRM, products for vertical markets and so forth served a couple of unique purposes.

They let existing users come along and see how the next release was looking and offered a chance to have a good go at the supplier if he was dragging his feet over release dates. I still recall with amusement sitting in a presentation on the next release of a well-known software product (let’s call it ‘Moon’ Accounts) and having to ease my way out of the room as irate users bombarded the speaker with angry questions because the promised updates were well overdue.

The show was also an opportunity to see what the opposition were up to. Complacency is a terrible thing. We’ve sold Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Navision as it was called back then for more than 16 years and we never gave up thinking it was the best product on the planet. So, a visit to the accounting software show meant you could sign up for all of your rivals’ presentation sessions and see what they had that you didn’t. It could be an eye opener. Shock horror.. sometimes we were behind the curve!

The shows may be gone but they’re not completely dead. We plan to run our own show “Turnkey 2013” early next year. If we can’t go to the show, the show will have to come to us and, who knows, the exhibitionists might be outnumbered!