The three day trip to Las Vegas for the DSE show went by in a whirlwind. To answer everyone’s first three questions, here are the salient points:
1. The show was terrific, both as an event, and for RDM. Other than lunch time and late afternoons, we were slammed. We were able to spend quality time both with current customers and high priority prospects that we planned to see. We were impressed by the volume of walk-ups who came by, as well as by the level of understanding of digital signage that they came with. A great week.
2. I left with more cash than I arrived with. This is always a good thing. The AmEx bill, however, will be pretty big.
3. No jet lag from the time zone change, although I slept well Friday night.
A few thoughts from the show:
• The steady growth of DSE is certainly a good sign for our industry. Chris Gibbs and the Exponation team have built the show well, run it well, and deserve their status as the premier venue for digital signage on this side of the pond. While I was unable to attend sessions, the feedback I got on them was generally quite positive. The exhibit hall was humming for two days, a dramatic change from the desolation of DSE East in Philadelphia, and even from the National Retail Federation annual conference in January.
• Despite the generally bad economic backdrop, people seemed upbeat, both on the vendor and customer side of the fence.
• Some interesting news from Retail Entertainment Design (R-E-D) leading up to the show. First some nice coverage of their work at Tween Brands, and then an announcement of a partnership with PRN. We spent some time visiting their lively booth, and R-E-D does nice work. My sense is that they have taken the lead in their space over rival Channel M.
• Wasn’t able to make Dave Haynes’ initial DOPES get-together, but it is a good idea, and I heard it was a nice time. I did finally get to meet Dave, who despite his affiliation is a genuinely good guy and someone who adds an important voice in the blogosphere and the community. While we were talking, one of the many rogue vendors (definition: lots of collateral, no booth) on the floor pitched us on private label LCDs with PC boards built in. Nice idea, not a new one… get a booth next time and join the community.
• Lots of folks looking for work were at the show, which was not unexpected. There is some very nice talent on the sidelines, and I suspect the best will remain in the industry, at least I hope so.
• Sadly, I did not get to greet Adrian Cotterill, blogmaster of The Daily DOOH, when he stopped by our booth to say hello. I was in the back of the hall stirring up something big (I hope), and despite hustling back, just missed him. Sometimes there are people with whom you need to shake hands with and thank them for their contributions to the industry. Mr. Cotterill is one of those. Next time, Adrian, and I’ll buy the Timothy Taylor’s, or the proper beverage of your choice.
• A lot of chatter concerning advertising at the conference. I’d like to see some folks from the emerging OOH agencies speak at the next conference…. I assure you that the hall will be overflowing. We have seen significant activity recently in terms of big agencies and big brands getting active. There will be more to report on that in the coming weeks.
• In a related observation, we spent a lot of time talking with friends at both SeeSaw and Adcentricity. Both companies have had software-related announcements recently, reflecting large investments in the infrastructure to support their models. SeeSaw announced a deal to license their software to CBS Outernet, while Adcentricity unveiled their software platform a couple of weeks before the show. My sense is that both would like to be driving more revenue through the portals, and that both will.
• In yet another related observation, a week before the show we received an email blast from Scala. While graciously acknowledging that we compete (at least when cost is not an issue), they were anxious to show us their Ad Manager module, in hopes of licensing it to us. Thanks guys, but I don’t see us writing checks with your name on it. Ever. I’ll call Rob and Monte first. At least ad management is core for them, you know what I mean? If a standard for the ad management function is to emerge, I would bet it won’t be coming from an add-on module of a larger package. My experience in observing the evolution of retail ERP, where the best point solutions started as solo offerings, tells me it will be the same here.
More to follow early in the week.