In this age of instant, Internet-enabled communication, online searchable databases, electronic transactions and e-commerce, is it still necessary—is it still useful—to attend a trade show?
The answer is, of course!
In fact, access to the World Wide Web has made trade shows such as the International Manufacturing Technology Show even more valuable. Visitors to Chicago’s McCormick Place will come to IMTS better prepared, better informed and better able to evaluate technology and match it to their needs. They will be ready to zero in on the most likely solutions, having narrowed the search prior to the show.
Yet, as always, once visitors get to Chicago, they will find that there is simply no substitute for getting a firsthand look at the latest manufacturing technology. For these firsthand inspections, IMTS is still one of the best places on earth.
Many visitors will arrive having already established vital relationships with technology suppliers. Chances are, they’ve been exchanging information and ideas with a sales or applications engineer, using e-mail and other electronic media to facilitate this dialog, before they head to Chicago.
For this is still an industry built on personal relationships.
IMTS not only brings together machine tools and all manners of metalworking equipment into one place (albeit an expansive one), but it also brings people together. These meetings remain a crucial phase of how technology is acquired. Buyers and sellers want to—need to—come face to face. Thanks to electronic media and the enhanced communication it encourages, these face-to-face meetings are far more likely to be productive and effective.
Both buyers and sellers will have to adopt a new style, and we’ll see this new style shaping the interactions that take place in many a booth at this IMTS. In fact, “buyer and seller” will be an inadequate model for the kind of ongoing relationship initiated at trade shows such as IMTS. Much of the advanced Web-enabled technology on display will make that clear. Remote diagnostics, “networkable” control units, real-time wireless monitoring and other emerging developments will link technology suppliers and technology to sustain new manufacturing processes.
IMTS means lots of machines in one place. IMTS means lots of people in one place. Such a gathering is more—not less—important in this day and age.