CeBIT enjoys resurgence for resellers

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IT trade shows could be returning to popularity with resellers despite last year's dwindling CeBIT attendance figures, if Sydney's third incarnation of that international event was anything to go by.

IT trade shows could be returning to popularity with resellers despite last year's dwindling CeBIT attendance figures, if Sydney's third incarnation of that international event was anything to go by.
 
This year, Hannover Fairs Australia locked in 508 exhibitors - many of them resellers or service providers -- for the 4 to 6 May show. Some 20,525 potential customers walked through its doors.
 
CeBIT Australia 2003 had 427 exhibitors and 18,000 attendees, prompting suggestions in some quarters that big trade shows had lost relevance in tougher economic times.
 
Kerstin Baxter, director of the partner group at Microsoft, said Microsoft had supported 35 partners at CeBIT this year - almost three times last year's 12.
 
'We certainly wouldn't do that if we thought it wasn't worth it,' she said. 'CeBIT ... is starting to build. Everybody went off trade shows for a while.'
 
Many other Microsoft partners made it to CeBIT this year under their own steam.
 
She said that Australian service providers, ISVs and other types of resellers were represented and the feedback had been very positive. All gave presentations at the Microsoft stand which had attracted audiences of potential business partners and customers, she said.
 
'Some are doing world-first stuff,' Baxter said.
 
Some partners - not necessarily at CeBIT here but certainly at trade shows overseas - were successfully using the shows as a springboard into overseas markets. Real deals were being made as a direct result, Baxter said.
 
Clarence Tan, CEO at Surfers Paradise-based ASP Bond Wireless, said trade shows were definitely proving more valuable.
 
'We just went to CeBIT Germany and had quite a good success story there. One of the German companies we met has ... made an agreement [with us]. We are looking to expand into Europe,' he said.
 
Being able to display the technology and answer questions on the spot were a real advantage, Tan said.
 
Other resellers who spoke to CRN at the show agreed, arguing that attendees were smarter these days about the technology and made more successful trade show purchases and contacts as a result.
 
However, one voice at least begs to differ. Craig Tamlin, country manager at US-based storage vendor Quantum, told CRN that trade shows weren't netting Quantum the sales opportunities they used to. Trade shows had lost their 'mojo', he claimed.
 
Several years ago, trade shows such as CeBIT around the globe had gained the storage vendor leads a-plenty. Quantum itself no longer exhibited at CeBIT, he said.
 
'Probably two to three years ago, we loved trade shows. We got a lot of good business out of trade shows and we found that the people coming along offered good opportunities for us,' Tamlin said.
 
He said there seemed to be too many tyre-kickers at recent expos. Trade shows needed to generate a quantifiable return to justify the cost of attending for exhibitors.
 
Recent low trade show attendance and show cancellations suggested trade shows weren't 'demonstrating value', he said.
 
Tamlin said Quantum felt its VARs did a good enough job promoting the technology without the vendor itself needing to invest in trade shows.
 
However, he conceded that the story could be different for resellers and service providers, and for areas outside storage. It was possible that reseller partners could be successfully using trade shows for networking and to generate sales leads, he said.
 
Also, specialised trade shows - such as StorageWorld - were more likely to net vendor returns than broad-based expos such as CeBIT, Tamlin said.
 
Meanwhile, an upcoming consumer electronics trade show in Sydney has reportedly been cancelled.
 
The three-day Consumer Electronics and Entertainment show was to take place in June but was cancelled after the proposed venue - the Hordern Pavilion near Fox Studios - was deemed unsuitable.
 
The show would take place in Melbourne in 2005 and return to Sydney in 2006, organisers said.

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