Are Technology Tradeshows Worth Our Time?

Sep. 03, 2016

tech_trade_show.jpgHigh tech tradeshows and events can provide a telling snapshot of a technology sector’s vitality, relevance and growth. If you’re a frequent attendee or exhibitor at these events, you’ve no doubt experienced varying levels of energy and excitement on the show floor over the years, attributable to a myriad of factors ranging from macroeconomics to innovation trends spanning from hot new markets to maturing technologies.

During ‘down’ years you’ve no doubt asked yourself the question: Are technology tradeshows worth my time? 

When innovation stagnates and/or the market becomes oversaturated with “me too” vendors with little to no differentiation, attendees and exhibitors alike may question the ROI justification for participating in these events, particularly during budget contractions.

At these low points, high tech events can rival amusement parks for the number of contests, tchotchkes and prize giveaways. And while this activity might help counter waning attendee interest and drive booth traffic, it’s a distraction from the real value that these events are meant to provide: up-close, hands-on experiences with cutting edge technology, and open dialogue with knowledgeable industry peers.  

MACOM has participated in numerous tradeshows through the years, across a wide range of technology and application domains, and believe that we’ve identified the hallmarks of a thriving, high-value event that’s reflective of a similarly robust marketplace. Things to look for:

True breakthrough technology. This may seem like a no-brainer, but oftentimes attendees find themselves plodding from booth to booth in search of ‘the Next Big Thing,’ only to find ‘the Same Old Thing.’ This was not the case at this year’s OFC (Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Expo) or at the IMS (International Microwave Symposium), where new silicon photonics and RF energy technologies clearly demonstrated their potential to upend legacy technologies and transform the economics of their respective target markets.

Compelling, real-world demonstrations. At a high tech event, few things are more valuable than a well-planned, well-executed live demo that introduces new technology in a tangible way. MACOM was proud to host two such demos at OFC and IMS. At the former, we demonstrated the industry’s first silicon photonic integrated circuit with integrated lasers (L-PIC)™, and at the latter we showcased a fully-functional microwave oven leveraging RF energy as its heating element – the only one of its kind at the event capable of actually cooking (we made muffins!).

Lots of attendees, from many backgrounds.  Attendee headcount alone doesn’t tell the full story. An event should bring together attendees from many different disciplines, and many levels of expertise. Customers, end users, journalists, industry analysts, technology experts, university students – at the right event, all of these communities will be well represented.

Vigorous exchanges of ideas. With all of the aforementioned people gathered at a single forum – deliberating and reflecting on an industry’s ‘big picture’ – there’s a tremendous opportunity to share new insights and shape new viewpoints. From the exhibit hall to the panel sessions and presentations, we can actively seek out dialogues that encourage us and challenge us to think differently.

Customer excitement. It’s one thing to exchange business cards with potential customers. It’s another thing altogether to see the look of genuine excitement on their faces when they discover a new product or technology that can help them solve a significant problem and/or extend their competitive advantage.  A high-quality conference that successfully spurs these exchanges en masse is a clear indicator of a thriving, dynamic technology market.

You’ll see MACOM at a host of technology events throughout the year, and we’ll look forward to seeing you. For our full event schedule, click here.



All financial guidance projections referenced in this post were made as of the publication date or another historical date noted herein, and any references to such projections herein are not intended to reaffirm them as of any later date. MACOM undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement or projection at any future date. This post may include information and projections derived from third-party sources concerning addressable market size and growth rates and similar general economic or industry data. MACOM has not independently verified any information and projections from third party sources incorporated herein. This post may also contain market statistics and industry data that are subject to uncertainty and are not necessarily reflective of market conditions. Although MACOM believes that these statistics and data are reasonable, they have been derived from third party sources and have not been independently verified by MACOM.