Avigilon / Motorola VS Virtual ISC West

By John Honovich, Published Sep 29, 2020, 11:36am EDT (Info+)

ISC West has historically been so dominant that no player would think of competing head to head against it. Avigilon was the first to drop ISC West in February and now they are competing against ISC West Virtual next week.

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Inside this note, we look at the move, the challenges for ISC West and the future of 'virtual' / 'online' shows.

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Poll / ****

Comments (13)

This exposes some additional interesting challenges for virtual tradeshows.

With a physical show, you've historically had some number of exhibitors attempt to ride on the show for free(ish) by doing a hospitality suite or similar nearby event that is not part of the show officially. While these save money, you miss out on walk-by traffic, and it can still be hard to get people to actually come to your side-show, especially if it feels like too much of a distance from the real show.

With virtual shows, there is almost no cost or barrier to attending multiple shows simultaneously or in the same day. Provided that ISC or ASIS can make these virtual shows a big enough draw that people actually block of time to attend them, that offers more potential incentive for larger organizations to just do their own shows that overlap. Someone can easily do ISCW *AND* the Avigilon show without really missing out on any part of either experience. In that scenario ISC loses money, and Avigilon really gains (IMO) by having full control of their own event.

IMO we need to either get back to real shows, or just adapt to multiple individual virtual events instead of one consolidated event.

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Provided that ISC or ASIS can make these virtual shows a big enough draw that people actually block of time to attend them, that offers more potential incentive for larger organizations to just do their own shows that overlap.

That’s interesting! My gut feel is that no one is going to be able to achieve that. With physical events, if you are not there live at the time and place, you have missed it forever but with online, there is not great impetus for live.

Imagine explaining to a 15 year old how tens of millions of people once gathered around TV sets to see new episodes of MASH or the Cosby Show or Seinfeld or Friends. It must seem bizarre to them but that was a direct consequence of the limitation of the medium at that time.

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At first I was all hyped on all the virtual shows, IPVM's included. But there is serious fatigue and boredom from it. Granted, I have 8 zoom meeting internally a week which is a huge contributor to the fatigue, I fall back to being strongly interested in still attending ISC West physically in spite of SIA being greedy pieces of shat. I want to see the products in person, the demos in person, talk to my reps in person.

Call me old fashioned.

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#1, I gave that an informative. The risk is that things become too much online. To that end, I think there will be some counter swing back to physical events. The question, that I don't know the answer to, is whether it swings back to the same levels before, higher, lower?

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It will swing back to same levels as before. Why? Because people have COVID fatigue. Once it is safe again, people will storm the beaches (already do now), people will vacay like its the end of the world, and an excuse to go to Vegas? Don't mind if I do. I have no doubt it will go back to the same levels once safe.

What's more interesting is whether or not the major tech companies will sway away from buying/making new buildings as most of their employees are allowed to work at home through 2022. If the employees can stay productive, why pay for buildings and all the goodies required for buildings?

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I agree 100% that there will be a large 'swing back'. However I think the virtual cat is out of the bag.

Most tradeshows are mostly fashion shows. Who is cool. Who is IN. Who has the big booth, the shiniest showoff etc. Im positive somewhere there is a tech show that isn't mostly that. But in 20+ years I havent see one yet.

Big companies are not going back to big offices. All my friends at the big tech companies are officially NOT doing offices until near end of 2021. And an ever increasing number of those former office employees have or are in process of moving somewhere else. If your work is virtual, your meetings are virtual, your presentations are virtual, your tradeshows are virtual then the office is virtual.

When the office is virtual the tradeshow will either become the one time/place you get to meet in person aside from quarterly company meetings, OR it will be looked back on as a weird cold war relic.

Face to face aint never going away. But most meetings could be abolished. And that would likely make a huge morale and productivity boost! I would argue that the size of the booth is the primary indicator for large established companies. The main benefit of a tradeshow is: (if we are being honest)

1. meet people in person you would normally NOT be willing to travel to directly (aka they aren't THAT important to spend actual time and money on)

2. Find those weird, new companies that you didn't already know about - and because they literally HAVE to talk to you, get actual conversation and information.

3. Competitive research - you get to pretend to be someone else and get all kinds of great info free that they would never release digitally.

To me those 3 things are key and have NOT been replaced yet. So tradeshows will resume. (I won't go to one till a massive deployment of a vaccine) but the above three reasons are not the ones we tell our bosses.

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I think big tech will go back to buildings, largely for the same reason of ISC West: that you need in person interaction. Also largely because I do not believe in the human reflex to work as hard at home vs in the office. I myself hate working at home, way too many distractions, and not enough people to interact with that are pertinent to the forward movement of the company. Time will tell.

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For sure offices will return at some point next year. But they will not be the same. My opinion is they will be smaller spaces with fewer people. Even when we beat this round of pandemic there will be a constant drive to reduce costs. At first it will be "work remote, live where you want yay freedom!" then it will be "Work remotely from these preferred locations, at these new lower pay levels" Once they get that worked out I think there will be a ton of remote hubs. Basically mini offices that are part time. This could be awesome or terrible. Likely both.

I don't like working at home more than in the office. Although I do love seeing my family more. But for a lot of security pros what they actually DO most of each day does not require a group office. And if its not required companies are not incentivized to provide it. PLUS they get to outsource a LOT of costs to employees: heating/cooling, office space, furniture, electricity, internet, food and more.

So its a toss up with arguments on both sides. But we have NOT seen a confluence of factors this strong pushing to end office work as we know it EVER before. So the results are unpredictable.

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While I agree that things won't be the same I expect to see a pendulum movement with the momentum going towards remote work now and then swinging back in 2~3 years.

One hypothesis I have is that especially with big (tech) companies that have a mixed workforce (partially on-site, partially remote) people will discover that promotions will skew towards people working on-site and living closer to the office. Relationships matter a lot on that front. And so while remote employees will be fully integrated in the work-process itself not being able to join after-work drinks, having lunch together, etc. could turn out to be a significant roadblock.

For remote-first / remote-only companies that might be less of an issue but you just need to look at the massive (and expensive) campuses that Apple/Facebook/Google have built to realize how much significance these companies attribute to "the office".

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From what I've been reading, one of the biggest issues from the perspective of upper management in a lot of companies is the retention and propagation of their culture. How do you instill your corporate culture (which many leaders prize and view as their competitive advantage) when an employee is never exposed to it? You will never get that over a Zoom meeting and that's one of the things that will drive that return to the office.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: You Will Never Install Your Corporate Culture Over A Zoom Meeting And That's One Of The Things That Will Drive That Return To The Office.

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I think remote-only companies can instill a corporate culture quite well though it requires different approaches (a great and well documented & much discussed example is what Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson have done at Basecamp). However, I simply don't see that working when part of your workforce is on-site and others are remote as the differences in their experiences and exposures to the culture will be vary significantly.

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I think the impacts will be different depending on the show.

For example Security Essen was already on a downwards trajectory. With this year's edition being canceled and there being a 4-year gap between the last (2018) and next (2022) show due to their 2-year cycle I expect many more companies to realize that they can do perfectly well without it. Hence I bet on the 2022 show being less relevant than the 2018 edition.

On the other hand, a show such as Intersec Dubai takes places in a region where personal trust and relationships are key requirements to doing business. So I don't see an online format being able to replace it and I expect the show's relevance to remain high in the future. Plus, it attracts a lot of visitors from countries where many vendors have less established or no physical presences so the show really is their best opportunity to check out a lot of products and companies in a short period of time.

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where personal trust and relationships are key requirements to doing business

Christoper, I think that's a good point and can be applied worldwide (though as you point out certain regions may place a greater emphasis on that).

So, likewise, I would expect conferences to return as executives, large buyers, and salespeople mutually benefit from a centralized physical meeting place.

The question, to me, is at what attendance levels they return to. Look back 15 years ago and trade shows were really important simply for information gathering as little information was available online. Obviously, the Internet has grown a lot in that time and coronavirus has spurred even more information on line.

So when conferences return, I definitely expect 'decision makers' to go but what about everyone else that goes to shows?

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