Widgets Magazine

Why I decided to attend #Infocomm14 with my #Eyes and my @Ears

by John Greene from Advanced AV
In my position, it has been standard fare that one of the primary responsibilities is to be aware of products, pricing, program and people with the management power to bestow upon the staff the information they need to be successful; the “top down- follow me” management style. Well, things are disheveled. Where, how and when everyone receives their information has changed.  Not lost; just moved – and augmented with Social Media.  Social Media has provided content and context, some shallow, some deep, enough for people to pick and choose, and decide their own informational fate. The major advantage is that you can network and converse while doing it.
Wandering from my management perch, my question “Hey did everyone see the e-mail I just sent on a new product?” receives laughter and mockery. The replies come back.  ”Saw it in LinkedIn!”  “Saw it on Twitter,”’ that dynamic alone changes the management paradigm. I no longer own the data or the delivery. Certainly chaos will follow.
I have mostly millennial children, one in the “annoying teenager” category. I often find myself driving crews of teens to and from activities, only to hear from the back seat the tap-tap-tap that I recognize as thumbs ablaze on phones, Snap Chatting or Tweeting, the nightly events to each other and to their Social Network. Some of those texts offering an opinion of the driver’s annoying habit of asking “How was the dance?” Yes, I have also learned to monitor Social Networks.
I know there are those out there saying “You, as a manager, should play this role.” and “Those children should be courteous and answer.”  I am laughing now.  “Employees/teenagers, what’s with them….” Well, they’re out of the information box, and they’re not going back.  I have to say that when I discuss Social Media with my generation, looks of confusion and a plethora of “I don’t get it” comments fill the air. I distinctly remember other times when the introduction of a new technology gave everyone pause. “Get off the phone and walk across the street and talk to your friend.” “Why are you watching TV so much?  You will fry your brain.” “Videoconferencing will never be accepted. People need to meet face to face.”  Those technologies today drive our industry and tweak fondly at our very hearts.  Social Media is not the root or cause of evil; it is only a vehicle.
Remember I said Social augments, it does not displace. So why did I pass on attending Infocomm and attend #Infocomm14 instead? For the very reason, I mention above.  I wanted to be one of “them,” to embrace Social.  I wanted to see what it looked like from the Social Media viewpoint, and I found some curious similarities between physically being there and watching from here. I attended all three days of the exhibits via the # and the @, Twitter terms that allow like and opposing minds to gather and exchange opinions, facts, some humor and maybe a little treachery.
I think many who attend trade shows experience a similar phenomenon. You arrive at the airport, run into a customer, vendor, someone in your network, and they are headed to the “show.” Oddly enough for the rest of the week, you seem tied together in a spatial-time dimension, bumping into each other at booths and events only disengaging when you get off the plane and go home. That is what happened to me with Social. I sent out my first tweet and from that point on I hung with the people I met at the social media entrance.  Fellow tweeters were walking the floor together, engaging with manufacturer staff, press and marketing people stopping, along the way, to exchange#AVselfies or inquiring about who is going to #DrunkUnkles, Inside views from @AVnationTV, asking for on premise feedback on what @Vaddio, @ListenTech, @Christie or @CrestronHQ just released.
Advantages? Well, I received product updates minutes (or less) after press posting and in some cases, before. I had time to read and dig deeper on my terms, not at the receiving end of a sales pitch.  If interested, I could engage with the company and hear their story from the tweet perch.
Infocomm review time was enjoyable with attendees reporting their findings, and I also provided mine. Interestingly, I got comments like “I didn’t see that,” and “I didn’t know they were on the floor.”  So it would seem that my #eyes added to the gathered knowledge.  Not redundant or a gimmicky distraction.
Best yet, I grew my network; I met customers; suppliers, manufacturers; made contacts; maybe gained a friend or two with the witty tweeting banter that occurred while walking the floor via Social Media. Social Media makes me feel young again, just like those teenagers with their tweets from the backseat.  There is one difference however – I will look up and say “Yo!” (@jgreenesix from Philly, everyone) cause I was raised that way.
John Greene

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