“Off-White Paper” #3.1 – More on Shows

In late September, Federal Computer Week announced that it had a deal with AFCEA to manage TechNet. On it’s own, this doesn’t merit major coverage, because Technet has never been a major event. It was AFCEA’s attempt to attract civilian and DOD senior IT managers to one event. Though they have success in attracting DOD and the uniformed services, they have not made TechNet a key event government-wide. With FCW melding its (yet to be produced first) GovTech event with TechNet, creating GovTechNet, we have the potential for a new large event. And FCW has successfully avoided direct confrontation with FOSE in the Spring timeframe, moving the show to June, where it will now compete with the smaller eGov. Probably a smart move. But egov had a pretty good first year in 1998, attracting 9,800 people to its first show. But where is the “value-add” for GovTechNet? I’m not saying there is no value to this show, but I haven’t seen anything yet to indicate a FOCUS for the event, other than a nebulous “we’re here to help IT in government” statement. “Where’s the beef?” Remember FedUnix? A very focused event, at least in the early years, with a loyal attender and exhibitor base because of the focus. When IT was young(er), FOSE had a focus, of sorts: office automation in government. But now that IT has hundreds of sub-categories, the mega shows have less value for both attenders and exhibitors. And factor in that purchasing is decentralized, with more taking place outside of Washington. And reduced travel budgets, meaning IT professionals from the regions are less likely to attend. And what do you have? I’m not sure. I’m glad I’m not the MarCom that has to decide. Or worse, the MarCom whose CEO is being wined by all the show sales people! And just so it’s out in the open: Yes, I am on the Board of eGov. I’ve also been on the Board of FOSE, but not since 1994. I like being on Boards. I get to mouth off where it might count! But this in no way alters my opinion. Copyright 1998, Amtower & Company