Many people I talked to at ITEXPO before the exhibit floor opened had muted expectations about the attendance, because of the slumping economy. But I knew better... I talked to Rich Tehrani and he told me a week before the show opened that the pre-registration numbers were up from last year. VoIP when properly deployed and with the right product has an extremely fast ROI and can result in cost savings in just a short period of time. So I wasn't worried that ITEXPO would be a resounding success.
But the VoIP industry is not without its curmudgeons. Alec Sauders wrote a scathing post titled "2008: The Year VoIP died", which sparked a fierce debate amongst VoIP industry insiders. He wrote:
Well, ITEXPO definitely didn't have any lawn bowling. If you tried to chuck a bowling ball down the aisle, it wouldn't travel 5 feet before clipping someone's ankles. ITEXPO had solid traffic the entire show, which is a rare feat for any tradeshow these days. ITEXPO isn't VON and it isn't VoiceCon, and probably shouldn't be compared to either. One thing everyone could agree upon when it comes to ITEXPO is that this show brings "buyers" to the show. It's why exhibitors keep coming back. Exhibitors actually generate "leads" and close deals at ITEXPO where as VON (R.I.P.) and other IP communications shows were more about networking and trying to strike partnerships. ITEXPO has evolved over the years into a "networking" event as well, but its core strength has always been that it brings buyers, resellers, distributors, etc. to the show.VoIP events are suffocating too. VON was a spectacular flameout, despite the best efforts of Jeff Pulver and his band of merry men to transform it from a voice only show into a voice, video and more show. At least the Pulverites understood where the future was, even if unable to craft a profitable event around those varied interests. There'll be more of the same next year, I fear. Initial reports from this fall were that VoiceCon was an understated and quiet affair. Lawn bowling anyone?
I found many positive ITEXPO reports from industry analysts, media, bloggers, and VoIP vendors on the Web that talked about just how successful ITEXPO was.
Here are a few of them:
Considering Convergence - Network World by Matthew Nickasch:
The conference events concluded Wednesday afternoon at Internet Telephony EXPO (ITEXPO) East 2009 in Miami Beach, FL. With a very high attendee and exhibitor count, it is clear that VoIP, convergence, and UC technologies are at the forefront of interest and innovation.
Community: ITEXPO is a wonderful example of the strong industry community that exists within the IP communications market. Highly-competing developers, integrators, and VARs maximize on the opportunity to discuss the state of the industry, exciting new technological developments, and tools for delivering better and more innovative customer solutions.
Greg Galitzine, Group Editorial Director for TMCnet.com - VoIP is Alive and Well
I've just returned from ITEXPO East 2009, which was held in Miami Beach, February 2-4. One of the trends that emerged at the show is that the VoIP industry is indeed alive and well. The show was well attended by people looking for solutions, the Exhibit Hall was full of vendors who were only too happy to speak to the attendees, the meeting rooms were full, the conference sessions were well attended, and all in all the show served as a barometer for the industry.
Joe Staples, Interactive Intelligence Internet Telephony Expo Wrap-Up
There's an economic slowdown? Somebody must have forgotten to tell the show attendees. Traffic seemed as strong as ever (show promoters reference a 30% increase in attendance). The conference sessions were well attended. Our very own Rick Chin's keynote session on "The Unified Communications Shootout" had a couple hundred people in the room (cool format...attendees hear a six minute pitch from four or five vendors touting why their approach in the best. The attendee can then decide from that whose booth their going to go spend time at getting more info).
Moshe Maeir - The Flat Planet - Is VoIP Recession Proof?
Well based on the number of visitors to our booth last night at the ITEXPO opening night, the answer is yes!
Considering Convergence - Network World by Matthew Nickasch:
The session halls and exhibit floor offered standing room only during opening day at IT Expo East 2009, in Miami Beach, FL. With many innovative products, solutions, and services being discussed and displayed, it is clear that all forms of IP telephony and convergence communications are alive and well.
Andy Abramson - Industry blogger - First Impressions of ITEXPO East 2009
VoIP is far from dead and judging by the crowds and the rooms that were full of people the rumors of its death are far from over. I'll be the first to admit that trade shows in general are down, but this year's IT EXPO East in Miami Beach Florida is anything but. Walking the floor last evening I counted over 150 booths, and each one was buzzing with activity. In the hallways people were talking and the symposium/conference tracks had rooms full of people.
Garrett Smith - Industry blogger - IT Expo Proves VoIP Industry is Still Going Strong
Well, as usual Rich and crew, did a fantastic job. Yes, the number of exhibitors was down a bit from shows of the past, but the sessions and keynotes have never been as robust.
Not to mention the surprising level of foot traffic that was present from show open to close.
The VoIP industry is not dying. It's alive, growing and those involved with it continue to impress me with what they are achieving.
In speaking with over 100 of the most influential people in the VoIP industry, the economy has had an effect on their businesses - in most cases a positive one. Someone even told me their customer base tripled from November to January - oh and they've been in business for a few years.
Marc Robins - industry analyst IP Communications Insights - Ingate SIP Trunking Seminar is Packed
Apparently bucking the current trend of "downsized" conference attendance, Ingate's workshop on the first day of the Internet Telephony Expo in Miami Beach is packed with an overflow crowd.
While this is a clear signal that SIP trunking is still a red hot IP communications topic, it is also a very promising indicator of heathy attendance at the show in general.
Bill Miller, Digium: Facebook wall post
Awesome event! Digium Asterisk World Event is absolutely high quality attendees, presenters, and we thank everyone participating!
Tony Rybczynski, Nortel - Dispatch from ITEXPO
Earlier today, I presented in an ITExpo keynote session on UC. Surprisingly good attendance and some probing questions on mobility, converged networking , CEBP and the future of the desktop phone.
I was very happy to see that IT Expo seems to have fought off the economic slump. Maybe that's a good omen.
O yes, it's been running for 10 years, so congrats to Rich, Greg and the gang. I think I spoke at the first one and many in between.
As Greg stated, if ITEXPO East 2009 can be considered a barometer of how the VoIP industry is doing, then it's certainly not a stretch to say that the industry is far from dead. 2009 won't be the year VoIP died, but the year VoIP thrived!