If you missed ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., a few weeks ago, you missed quite a show. Yes, I realize I’m inherently biased, and do my best to promote the event, but those who were there would agree there was a constant buzz not only in the hall, but around the venue from beginning to end.
While there were likely several factors that drove the excitement level, one of the most openly evident variables is always the engagement and enthusiasm of exhibitors. We’ve all been at shows where booth staff members are constantly on their phones, or standing around talking to one another.
That was not the case at the Broward County/Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center, where the conference content was well-attended and discussions of trending and emerging business and technology topics continued into the common areas – from cybersecurity to marketing trends, from managed services to Blockchain, and from SD-WAN to APIs. Across three days of content, there was plenty for any business leader to immerse himself or herself in ideas for driving success.
I’d be remiss not to mention the standing room only crowd for our first IDEA Showcase, highlighting eight innovative startups pitching their companies and being interrogated by a panel of investors. Interestingly, the judges and audience independently of one another chose the same winner for the event: VoiceBase, which, in a nutshell, has developed APIs for speech recognition and analytics to allow better utilization of voice as a tool.
But, to be honest, the greatest source of energy and excitement was the exhibitors themselves – AXIA TP, Effortless Office, Fiber Mountain (News - Alert), and Teli are just a few examples that come to mind. Each time I stopped in at a booth, the emotion was sky-high, and staff couldn’t stop talking about the market, their products, the show, anything that came to mind. And the emotion was genuine; the conversation rarely turned to “I’m better than the next guy,” instead staying focused on how “I’m able to deliver new value to my customers and help them do things they previously couldn’t.” It was almost contagious.
Cloud has a lot to do with it, as does the concept of managed services. Both are creating opportunities for vendors to deliver a new set of value-added services to a new customer pool while enjoying a recurring revenue stream and eroding previously challenging geographical boundaries. The idea that new services can be added onto existing offerings to create more complete or customized solutions was a wildly popular theme.
The week was full of conversation about building value, including the use of APIs as a strategic asset. As frequent as terms like unified communications and cybersecurity were on signage and marketing materials, API was, perhaps, the most commonly seen and heard acronym all week. Vendor after vendor, whether on the exhibit floor or in conference sessions, found a reason to turn the conversation to how APIs are changing the way their customers are doing business.
Very much in line with these highlights, the ITEXPO Best of Show winners were representative of the overarching trends from the week. Congratulations to all the winners in the various categories.
Overall, I feel as though we witnessed, on some level, a market evolution in Ft. Lauderdale, with the newest generation of vendors really showing off their flexibility and agility, traits that will allow them to compete with larger, more established incumbents and attack markets in new and innovative ways. That excitement will carry over not just to the next ITEXPO in February 2017, but to All About the API (www.allabouthteapi.com), our new event focusing on what has become known as the API Economy. This will be an event featuring content focused horizontally on two distinct audiences: the developer community that builds and integrates APIs, as well as the managers tasked with turning code into revenue. The tech space has really become a software story. ITEXPO is proving it in the communications and IT space, and All About the API will take a deeper dive at it from a cross-vertical perspective. See you in Vegas.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi