The Signage, Imaging and Media (SIM) exhibition and conference kicked off on Sunday 18th October in Abu Dhabi and on Monday morning the Digital Signage Forum also started. It was a very poorly attended conference somewhere between 20 and 25 people who had stumped up between USD 200 and 250 to attend. Perhaps next time (if there is a next time, they ought to market and advertise the event a little more).
When you think that a Social Media Forum running alongside it was ‘packed’ with 85 people discussing MySpace, Facebook and Twiter it sort of puts into context just what a bad job many so-called professional conference organisers do in actually ‘selling’ our industry.
From what we have seen with our own eyes and heard from others the digital signage parts of SIM has taken place amidst lunacy, idiocy, animosity and downright stupidity (if you think we are being harsh email us privately and we will tell you the full story).
It seems like a fair few folks have been messed around by the organisers. We noticed for example on the exhibition floor that MxN Solutions were not there – someone told us that they were in dispute with the organisers over monies owed to them. MxN were also to have supplied for free the digital signage network for the event itself which was (strangely enough) also conspicuous by its absence as well. Whoever was dealing with MxN obviously did a great job (not!).
If the organisers continue to behave in this way then they will have no one left who has the slightest intention of exhibiting or attending in the year’s ahead.
Mind you, we firmly believe that you can always get a ‘feel’ for an event even as early as the planning stages and we always had a bad feeling about this one. Our early experience of SIM was that they wanted everything for nothing; banner advertising, speakers, a digital signage network etc.
Whilst not everyone will agree with our stance of many in the exhibition and conference space we reckon that we have our finger on the pulse more than any other individual or publication – yes we can seem pretty harsh when it comes to saying what we think is good (ISE DS Zone, DSE, Screen Expo, Total Media etc.) and what is bad (IBC DS Zone, some of the Viscom events etc) but when you hear stories about the way SIM was organised, the “I told you so” refrain is not far from our lips. We told you so!
The SIM exhibition itself was probably half the size of that in 2008. That’s probably a combination of the economy, lack of marketing, creativity and buzz around the event and the fact that GITEX 2009, the region’s largest ICT event was on at the same time (err, poor planning or what).
As Chris wrote earlier Jason Friedman, Founder and CEO, Creative Realities (CRI) decided late last week not to speak at the conference; in his place you got to hear Mike Fabian tell you how to be successful in digital signage (yes I know many of you will laugh but he was ACTUALLY quite good).
Raad Raad, Managing Director, MxN Solutions chaired and spoke at the event as well, despite his bust-up with the organisers over exhibiting and did his usual ‘great job’. His speech on cost savings and TCO – basically why have 1 player 1 screen when you can have 1 player 10 screens using video distribution kit would have been music to the ears of Minicom and Magenta Research we are sure!
Lou Giacalone gave his usual good speech, this time about standards (one of his hot buttons since he returned to Coolsign) and described pretty well the future of digital signage (we feel that Coolsign have something of a good story here if only they could get it out, express it simply and market it to the masses).
Again, Chris wrote earlier about Bruno Brookes, CEO Immedia Group PLC who probably gave the best presentation of the day, although as a speaker he is far too secretive. Immedia have a good story and they should be shouting it from the rooftops!
That was it for the morning’s speakers. If you had to rate them they would probably ALL be about 9/10 they were that good. The afternoon was a bit different and unfortunately not so good.
When the Scala guy takes the podium and tells the audience “I’m not here to sell you anything” and then proceeds to walk through Scala case studies the audience tends to switch off. There was a definite disconnect between what he was trying to say and what the audience walked away with.
The afternoon’s sessions could definitely have done with some outside talent – here it would have been good to have the likes of Frank Emerson (Pixel Inspiration) and Chris Heap (Imperative Group) both of whom were early on in the planning stages touted as speakers but alas that was not to be.
Easily the best speaker of the afternoon was Patrick Crosbie (ex-EnQii). He’s obviously a smart guy and he talked about mobile integration etc.
In life you get what you pay for and conference and exhibition organisers need to get that message pretty damn quickly.