What ESX did right

Friday, August 1, 2008

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Nashville, where the music never stops and it’s easy to get a new pair of cowboy boots at a reasonable price, but choosing a great location and taking people skeet shooting aren’t the only things the NBFAA and CSAA, organizers of last month’s inaugural ESX show, got right.

Okay, so the show floor was quiet (or, as we say here in Maine, wicked quiet). Big deal. The educational sessions were uncomfortably crowded. Hmm, I wonder what integrators and installers value most in an industry event right now.

But it’s not just education dealers are looking for, it’s education they can trust. What ESX did most right was to assign installation and integration company owners with reputations in the industry to program the individual educational tracks. Then, they also offered what were clearly paid-for sessions where manufacturers could do training and general education.

Attendees not only got education that was deemed valuable and necessary by their peers, they also knew exactly what they were walking into. At other events-you know who you are-it’s often completely up to the capriciousness of the vendor who’s paid for the spot to speak: Will this session be just another product pitch, or will we actually hear about an interesting and valuable trend happening in the market? Who can say?

With that kind of uncertainty, many attendees at other events choose sightseeing over education.

Further, the education was about business, not just about technology and products.

Speakers touched on nuts-and-bolts topics like accounting, preparing for an acquisition, increasing RMR opportunities, how to sell home automation, how to measure employee performance. These are things that every business in every industry might care about, but there’s a different spin for the security industry and the ESX speakers delivered some very useful information, judging by the attentiveness of the audiences.

Finally, the choice of Cris Carter as keynote speaker was an inspired one.

Security needs to raise its profile as an industry in the mainstream consciousness, and what better ambassador could we have than a personality that some 100 million people have seen on their television screens?

Bravo to the NBFAA and CSAA.