I visited the FMI show in Las Vegas in early May. I decided to wait and gauge the industry reaction to the show before expressing my own.
I appear to be in the minority in my view of the success of the show. Traffic on both sides of the aisle was clearly up from the anemic levels we saw in Chicago last year. Whether resurgence or last gasp (it WAS a trip to Vegas after all) is yet to be determined.
1. The crowds of folks were legitimate buyers and seemed eager to find new news and services/products of value.
2. Traffic was good in certain areas. It seemed like the more popular booths were Online Grocery Marketing (note I did not limit to e-commerce), MyWebGrocer in particular, Forecasting and Pricing with Demandtec, KSSR and SAF having pretty decent audiences, the W5Networks guys with a new ESL technology, the systems guys (usual suspects like IBM and Agilysis) and a pretty good play for some surprises like the GS1 booth where some interest was focused on the recently announced product recall system.
3. The educational sessions were mixed. I went to a dozen. Some were pretty straight-forward “how to” type presentations. Others (Bishop on the CCRC Health and Wellness Map, a fellow on the importance of branding using all resources) may have been hard to get our heads around but held immense strategic value if studied. And a few that held promise (New Category Management, Jumping the Technology Curve, CAO, New Technologies (2) and New Ways of Working Together) but either teased for future releases or might have been a bit polite about the hurdles that stand in the way of widespread adoption.
Many of the most interesting discussions/services/products were held at Starbucks, in hallways and in more adult beverage locals with subjects around new RFID technologies, new RFID alternatives, P.R.I.S.M., Master Data, ISI and a number of other movements or companies that offered the next generation of solutions. These truly new and innovative ideas seemed to have a number of characteristics most of which demonstrated learning’s from the prior generations of products which were exhibited in the booths including:
a. Taking a very pragmatic approach to the solution.
b. Demonstrating a willingness to admit that as a stand alone the solution was limited in its ability to deliver results.
c. Recognition that the approach or service would need to collaborate with players and other technologies to deliver results.
d. Recognition and support for ongoing quantification of results around the solution. This not as encouragement for “free pilots” but as encouragement to all parties to be honest and diligent in ongoing appraisal.
I do not believe the FMI show qualified as a resurgence in that organization, nor the show itself. As a matter of fact, both FMI and GMA appear to be struggling to determine their roles in the future and how/if they can provide broad leadership in the collaborative efforts of the manufacturers, distributors and service providers. Further, in the absence of such broad leadership there are at least 6 independent movements working at some thought leadership in 2-3 separate but very important areas. More on this soon.