CeBIT: yet another disappointing trade show

Photo of CeBIT visitors pass

Why do I bother going to trade shows? My friend and colleague Zern Liew and I went to CeBIT this afternoon, and while it was great to catch up with Zern I certainly didn’t experience “3 days [or even half a day] that will change the way you do business.”

Actually, there was amusement value… and if you read to the end you’ll see that I did find some products and services of value to my small business clients. But I reckon the most useful aspect of trade shows is seeing what everyone reckons is “the cool stuff”. And right now that appears to be software as a service (SaaS) and Voice over IP (VoIP).

As usual, I had to queue to get my name-tag manually changed to show my actual name. While waiting, I found I could easily read the credit card numbers of the people ahead of me, displayed on screen as they registered. The surfie boy staffing the desk didn’t seem to care — but then on minimum wage why should he?

Photo of company name sign: Rectron Electronics

I found a computer components company at stand X20 (pictured right). I reckon they need to change their name, don’t you? Very unfortunate.

But I shouldn’t give them too hard a time, because the little companies are worth looking at. Big companies already have plenty of profile. If Google does anything interesting it’ll be reported widely. I won’t bother with their trade show stand. And besides, the big companies are usually the ones that spend too much time on hype and generic wankwords.

The Wank

Too often, corporate tag-lines are full of generic, abstract words which don’t tell me what they do.

An example:

Accumulate’s single focus is to help companies motivate people to achieve performance improvement. We design and manage Recognition, Incentive and Reward solutions that drive results.

Yeah, but what do you do?

“Limitless Possibilities,” boasts Asterisk Integrated Telephony. No, that’s a lie. If my desired possibility is, oh, spaceflight to Mars or a decent grilled tuna steak, you can’t help me. Why not just say you’re an experienced developer of premium digital telephony systems? “Limitless Possibilities” is the kind of bullshit language that real estate agents use when they can’t think of anything positive to say about a property.

The Cool Stuff

ThinLinX make paperback-sized Linux thin client devices, perfect for setting up things like call centres where you don’t need a full PC for everyone. And they come in different colours.

RosterOne is a web-based system for rostering staff, with plenty of useful features. I’ll be looking at this for a few clients. Stay tuned.

Melbourne-based AME System make very cool computer workstations — from single-user desks a graphic designer might like to control room set-ups.

utbox combine both fax gateway and SMS gateway services in the some company. Both have existed before, of course, but it’s good to see them integrated. The guys I met seem to be genuine geeks, not marketing droids, which is reassuring.

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