The Grim Reaper at VON?
This is not my suggestion that VON is dead. It is merely a reference to the fact that when the show floor opened at VON Fall in Boston this week -- on Halloween morning -- the grim reaper was walking around. I'm not sure that would have been the first character I would have suggested roam the exhibit hall, but nonetheless, he was there.
I can't tell if VON is truly a smaller show, or if it's just being dwarfed by the size of the new Boston Convention Center. Add that to the fact that there was the allure of the Rolling Rally Tuesday (yay Red Sox!), which drew at least a few attendees away to catch a glimpse of our World Champions. Further, a few of my clients told me they were headed out of town early to accompany their kids for trick-or-treating that night. It seems that both of these activities might have had an impact on attendance.
As we all do at these shows, I conducted an informal survey to see what people were thinking of the conference. The sense I got was that those that had meeting rooms, and made the investment of time in advance to schedule media, analyst and customer/prospect meetings were feeling very good - so the "right" people were in attendance. Those who had exhibit space and significant booth set-ups were not so sure yet. The consensus was that exhibit hall traffic on the first day was greater - which is always the case, but still not enough to declare VON Fall a success for their companies. They will assess the quality of the leads though, before making a final judgment, but it seemed that those participating in meetings with vendors may not have chosen to spend a lot of time on the show floor.
The themes of the conference were just as you would expect - a lot about voice, unified communications, video over the Net and the (slow but coming) evolution to IMS networks. Although, no earth-shattering announcements were made.
In the end, my time spent at VON was worth it. It gave me a chance to connect with clients and colleagues in the industry. But I have to admit, I rather would have seen Big Papi walking around the show floor than the grim reaper. I hope that doesn't turn out to be an omen.
UPDATE: Caught this Light Reading post from Ryan Lawler who had a similar reaction on the show floor at VON. If you were at the conference, it would be great to hear about your experience and assessment.