The East Coast ITEXPO of 2015 was held this year in beautiful Miami Beach, Florida, at the Miami Beach Convention Center from January 27th to the 30th.
For those of you in the North East portion of the US, you know that this was the week that the giant snow storm swept through, bringing up to 2 feet of snow in the Massachusetts area. Luckily for me, I live in Northern Virginia, and my flight was only delayed by a couple of hours for de-icing the plane. Even luckier, the ITEXPO was held in Miami Beach where the temperature was in the low to mid 70s for the entire week. I picked out a hotel that was within walking distance of the convention center (no shortage of hotels to choose from in Miami Beach), so I got to enjoy the sun every morning on my way to the center.
I purchased the PLATINUM Conference Pass at the Early Adopter price of $99. The passes ranged from $99 to $999 depending on when you ordered your pass and what activities you selected. The PLATINUM pass granted me access to all 4 days of the conference, including all workshops, seminars, keynotes, and free lunch everyday. For the Early Adopter price of $99, the conference was a wonderful value. Even if you just went to have lunch each day and visited the exhibits. It would have been even more so, had I lived in the Miami Area.
All in all, including flight and hotels, the entire trip would cost us around $1000 to attend.
Registration was a breeze, especially if you came for the free workshops on Tuesday, when there weren’t as many people in the building. Everyone received a CoreDial bag with pamphlets from some of the other exhibitors, as well as an ITEXPO conference booklet and schedule of events.
Our primary goal for attending was to see if there were any new products, technologies, or other things we, as OneVoice, could offer to our customers to better the OneVoice experience.
One of the predominantly featured areas of industry at the exhibits was the concept of “The Internet of Things“. OneVoice doesn’t typically deal in the business of hardware, so this wasn’t really applicable to us specifically, but it was very interesting none the less. The concept of The Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting every day hardware, that we’re used to using, to the internet for a multitude of reasons. Consider it a lot like how our cell phones evolved from strictly phoning devices to smart phones that keep us connected to everything. Smart devices that are able to use big data, generated from all sorts of devices, in order to better the user experience.
If your company deals at all in the IoT Industry, and the ITEXPO features the same type of vendors, I would highly recommend you consider checking out the ITEXPO in August this year.
There was an overabundance of workshops to attend throughout the week, so many that it made it hard to choose which ones to actually visit – I constantly felt like I was missing out on something else. ITEXPO released a smartphone app that was truly brilliant, it included the schedule of workshops that you could follow along with as you went. They also included a QR Code scanner that you could scan at the different workshops in order to gain points. The scanner didn’t seem to work for everyone, but there were plenty of people with points.
I will have to say – I’ve never been a fan of QR Codes, and I think they’re slowly getting phased out of the marketing world – but this was a pretty brilliant application of them.
You could also connect it to your Twitter/LinkedIn accounts, but I couldn’t get that to connect to twitter on my smartphone. Another way to get points was by sharing the ITEXPO with your followers. Monitors were placed around the conference displaying the people with the most points at the conference. Overall, it was a great system to get people engaged in the overall conference experience.
The keynotes were excellent – with the presentation from Richard McBee, President and CEO of Mitel, standing out the most to me. His general message was that the telecom industry and users are constantly looking for a truly Unified Communications (UC) system – something we at OneVoice are always trying to piece together ourselves. The company that is able to offer a truly UC solution will be the one to come out on top of all the competitors. There are a lot that come close, but nothing that truly integrates with everything – primarily because that’s an extremely tall order to ask for. As we move more towards the IoT, complete UC will become more and more possible.
As time goes on, people are going to expect that their new device or software will automatically connect to their existing lifestyle – and if it doesn’t, they won’t buy it.
A lot of the workshops were really good, and targeted a wide variety of knowledge and skill level. One of the best workshops I attended had to be from Allison Smith, also known as “The Voice of Asterisk”. Her presentation on how we need to change the way we do IVR was inspiring. The main take away is that your IVR system should not be used to corral callers into different categories. Take a break from the normal “Thank you for calling, ABC Company, for Sales Press 1, for Operations Press 2” and use your IVR as an extension of your actual business and brand, use a more conversational tone, and don’t be afraid to change things up and try something different. This is something I’ll be presenting to the senior management at OneVoice. If you ever have a chance to see Allison Smith speak, I highly encourage it.
Overall, while the Conference was a great value for the registration price, I’m not sure of the value when you factor in the travel costs and time out of the office, for our company specifically. With that said, it’s really hard to put a dollar amount on hearing from industry leaders – so the value proposition will be determined by what your specific company is hoping to get out of it. Additionally, with the amount of different workshops going on, it can be overwhelming to pick and choose what you have to attend.
There was so much for me to see, listen to, sit in on, and watch that I didn’t get much time to explore Miami Beach!
This was the closest to the sand and water I got – if you go to a conference that is held at a vacation spot, I highly recommend you add a couple of days before or after to enjoy the location…
Life is about more than work, meetings, and conferences. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the sun!