Limited Horizontal Expertise

Sometimes you just never know from where the cool news is going to originate; hence my somewhat eclectic linklist. So in an effort to gain additional insight into something that’s recently piqued my interest, I surfed over to Appliance Manufacturer and read the surprising announcement of a “virtual tradeshow”. From their breaking news article (Link):

Responding to the need for a trade show devoted to space and water heating equipment and products, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Associaton (GAMA) announced the launch of its first “Heating Technology Expo,” a virtual trade show to run online concurrently with GAMA’s 71st Annual Meeting scheduled for April 8-11, 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.

Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? It does to me. Probably because about ten years ago I suggested my employer use CAD files for more than cutting steel molds; they could be released as branded videogame content, embedded in sales and marketing presentations, composited into television commercials, aso. I just couldn’t understand why no one was looking to leverage all the content we were creating (at considerable cost I might add). And here it finally looks as if commodity appliance manufacturers are finally coming round; they’re finally starting to understand that just because they manufacture low-tech, low-margin product in a fiercely competitive market, there still might be something going on over in the high-tech industry of worth to them (even if “smart appliances” didn’t pan out).

Whoops. Not so fast, young man. This may not be quite what it sounds. To continue:

“Booths” in the virtual trade show will have an area where attendees can “drop”their electronic business cards, and each exhibitor will receive a list of all Expo attendees and a list of those who visit their specific booths.

I think we’re going to need a definition of the word “booth”. This certainly sounds like nothing more than a website with some Guestbook code – a long, long way from the 3D virtual trade show I was imagining. Instead, it appears this might be an example of why I visited the site in the first place: limited horizontal expertise. I hope I’m wrong.

There was an article on one of the “home product” websites last year. It pointed out how CEO’s from high-tech companies typically crashed and burned when they were given the reins of a low-tech, commodity product manufacturing company. I wish I had a link to it.

2 thoughts on “Limited Horizontal Expertise

  1. I’m not sure you’re giving these guys credit enough. You and I know where this is going, and maybe so do they.

    The thing is, we need to get people start thinking in terms of the phrase “virtual trade show” .. that needs to become apart of the lingo.

    Once people are familar with the phrase and are comfortable saying it, they will get frustrated at the limitations of the current incarnations and will want more.

    That’s where we come in.

    It’s a long sales cycle, but it is good to see it beginning.

  2. Well, I don’t know what they’re actually doing yet, so for now the issue of credit is indeterminable. However, with regard to whether or not they should be at the stage of having 3D online in some fashion, I believe they should.

    Back in 1998 while at Rubbermaid we could browse our parts database and look at low-rez vrml files. It was extremely useful. This was all available through a browser using the company intranet. Furthermore, if I’m not mistaken, the entire system was automated on the back end using the tools integrated into the CAD application (this was prior to PLM). A lot has happened in 8 years… it’s gotten significantly easier.

    Hopefully what they’re describing is more than a guest book. We might both be surprised.

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