Attending conferences, exhibitions or industry forums can often result in unexpected experiences or inconsistent outcomes, which are often heavily influenced by the role of participation you intend to play and the expectations you have.

I've commented in the past in a LinkedIn article "HOW IS THE EXPO WORKING FOR YOU?" and last month's blog post "WHAT SHOULD VENDORS DO AT INDUSTRY EVENTS?" covering some general observations of how exhibitors might maximize the value of their investment with some hints & tips.

This post focuses on an overlooked opportunity for visitors to the much maligned tradeshow exhibition, namely Market Research, as vendors are concentrating on business development the sales team might fail to communicate back to head office what they learned beyond giving the lead count!

Insights that can be gathered can be varied, with some opportunities immediate and others needing some consideration or time to evolve. The following list is garnered from visits to numerous events , performing private activities or representing public roles for clients, with the most recent Autodesk University taking place in Las Vegas this past week.

What insights are available for us to gather? Here is a starter list and yes there are many more opportunities that can be added, but some that come to mind;

  1. Attendee perspective: what are visitors looking for and what are they finding.
  2. Domain expert input/feedback: launching a new product or a messaging campaign, why not ask someone if they would be attracted or what refinements might be made.
  3. Competitor research: a rare opportunity to sit in a public breakout session and discover how the competition are addressing a market need and perhaps revealing a previous unannounced technology partner they are now dependent upon.
  4. Partner identification: is quite an obvious example, however keep an eye them with respect how they engage prospects to assess the potential user experience, do they demonstrate behaviors aligned to your values and approach to the market.
  5. M&A discovery: if you're looking for a partner would M&A be the next step, or remember is someone sat their looking at your business and team as a potential target.

It's often difficult to reveal the activities performed, but in this case a public announcement was coincidently made at this week's event in Vegas. Namely that Autodesk is building, no pun intended, a 3rd party developer eco-system of technology providers that serve the Construction industry and integrate to their platform BIM360. The Connect & Construct Exchange eco-system was announced on Monday.

For anyone operating in this space it is worth taking a look, as it's more than an application programming interface (API) it’s a platform of web-services called Forge that Autodesk built for use to develop BIM360 and decided to create Platform as a Service (PaaS) for 3rd parties who might include end user clients to develop capabilities that tackle simple or complex market challenges.

I learned about Forge on the 19th September 2016 at the Fiatech members conference in New Orleans, where I struck up a conversation with gentleman from Austria that happened to be an Autodesk employee…as it turned out we knew a bunch of the same people and it was shocking we hadn't met previously…anyway he started sharing with me what they were doing and Forge was mentioned. I sent an email to my client Datum360 that same day.

What followed is a sequence of events that impressed me, and I am not easily impressed having moved to the veteran stage of a career where you've seen a bunch of stuff before…well in this case I hadn't;

  • Autodesk made Forge available to my client Datum360 in less than 7 days from the initial chat.
  • Datum360's CTO showed a prototype within 5 days, worked up in his developers spare time.
  • Inside 3 weeks Datum360 presented at an Autodesk developer conference in Munich

Other things took place on an aggressive schedule that I am not at liberty to share, but to say that I was delighted to see the announcement on Monday is an understatement. Normally this last sentence might include the phrase "the culmination of hard work of many"…well in this case not so much, it was a simple chat at a conference that identified an excellent partner opportunity and 2 professional software companies capitalizing on the situation.

I wish them great fortune for what will follow and for the benefit that the platform will deliver to their customers.

If you need greater insight to the market, your customers, your competitors then please hit the following button and fill out the form so we might get back to you to discuss how we can help!

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