The article speaks in general terms about this new phenomenon and provides readers with some examples and a look into the future of this medium.
David Heller, IBSystems' president said, "I am very excited about this article, and even though IBSystems was extensively interviewed for the article but not specifically quoted in the piece, it really legitimizes the concept that we pioneered back in 1997."
"During our interview with WSJ we were asked to respond by email to a number of very pointed questions. I've listed these below, so you can read this as a supplement to the WSJ article."
WSJ: Your first online show was in 1997? When was the first VirtualDACafe show?
IBS: Our first online show was in 1997 as a technology demonstration for Sun Microsystems.
Sun wanted to demonstrate what was possible on the Internet and also what was possible with Java. We produced VirtualCampus for Sun, who used this to showcase their technology at a number of physical trade shows. For example, VirtualCampus was Sun's entire presentation at a major education convention in Philadelphia that year.
Our VirtualDACafe show opened its virtual doors on April 22, 2001. We leveraged off what we had learned to develop our latest series of on-line trade shows.
WSJ: What does an EDA audience do in layman's terms? Why did you focus on that audience?
IBS: EDA is an acronym for Electronic Design Automation. Integrated circuit designers use EDA software. It allows them to model the performance of these very complex circuits before the design is committed to final production. Every major electronics manufacturer in the world uses EDA software. These include the companies that produce cellular phones, stereo equipment, televisions, computers, radar, electronic medical equipment, and.... much, much more.
IBSystems has a network of very targeted web sites (portals), that address the needs of designers in a number of fields. One of these portals, www.EDAToolsCafe.com delivers targeted information and resources to the EDA community. This portal caters to more than 125,000 unique EDA designers each month, reaches out to more than 35,000 subscribers every day with its Cafe News e-mail newsletter, and publishes and distributes a weekly EDA news round-up of EDA news called 'EDAWeekly.'
WSJ: How many virtual shows have you put on since the first one?
IBS: We've put on four shows to date. These included VirtualDACafe 2002, aimed at the EDA market; VirtualBIUC which was specifically produced for Bentley Corporation to effectively use material from their Bentley International Users Group Conference; VirtualMCAD that addressed the needs of our Mechanical Computer Aided Design audience from our www.mcadcafe.com portal; and a second EDA show, VirtualDACafe 2003 which opened this February.
Two more shows are currently scheduled for this year. Another VirtualDACafe scheduled for June 24, 2003 to follow the large EDA industry show, DAC (Design Automation Conference), and a second MCAD show that will take place in October.
WSJ: Is the technology yours?
IBS: The technology, infrastructure, and format were developed by us, and are ours.
WSJ: What is this I hear about pizza delivery?
IBS: We felt that visitors to our virtual shows should be able to experience everything they can at a physical show, but without the inconvenience. So, we replaced the traditional trade show Food Court with a Virtual Food Court where visitors order pizza on-line from Papa Johns Pizza and have it delivered to their home or office while touring the show. We plan to expand this to include other food that can be delivered.
WSJ: Since you put on your first show, what has changed? Has the technology changed?
IBS: Since our first show in 1997 the technology has changed dramatically. Internet connection speeds (bandwidth) to businesses and homes has greatly increased. In 1997 most users accessed the Internet using slow-speed phone connections. Now, most users access the Internet at super-fast DSL, cable, or T1 speeds. This has allowed us to deliver streamed audio and video on-demand, provide real-time video/audio conferencing, and give three-dimensional tours that enhance the show attendee's experience.
We have also taken advantage of the latest developments from Macromedia to make our shows more interactive. We use their Flash MX server and Flash in our booths to provide real-time attendee-exhibitor interaction. Our current booth's now include a real-time chat and real-time audio interaction. We also use technology from Wanadu, Inc. that allows us to convert narrated and animated MS PowerPoint slides into Flash for delivery over the Internet.
Our back-end relies on an Oracle database running on a Sun Microsystems server. By using the latest software and hardware we have been able to deliver real-time attendee reporting and tracking to our exhibitors.
WSJ: Have exhibitors and visitors been more accepting of the idea?
IBS: We have had very positive response from both exhibitors and attendees. I've listed a few below to give you the flavor. The response from exhibitors to our first VirtualMCAD show last year was extremely positive. The exhibitors experienced such great results, and had such great ROI, that they will all be exhibiting again in our next VirtualMCAD show this October. Attendees to previous shows are returning again to follow-up shows, and many of them have sent us letters thanking us for providing this service.
WSJ: When would you say online trade shows took off?
IBS: Online trade shows are still just leaving the launch pad and haven't reached escape velocity yet. The more people that experience well executed virtual trade shows the more acceptance this venue will get. In the near future, virtual online tradeshows will become mainstream, and will at one point (in my opinion) completely replace physical shows.
About IBSystems, Inc.
IBSystems is a leading provider of web portals and virtual trade shows targeted at computer modeling professional audiences. Its EDAToolsCafe.com, MCADCafe.com, GISCafe.com, AECCafe.com, PCBCafe, DCCCafe, and CareersCafe web portals bring valuable resources and timely information and job opportunities to professionals in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA), Mechanical Computer Aided Design (MCAD), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Architectural Engineering (AEC), Printed Circuit Board (PCB), and Digital Content Creation industries. Its CareersCafe brings employers and jobseekers together in each of these high-tech fields. IBSystems complements their portals with Virtual Trade shows and online publications. The company is building and launching additional industry-focused vertical portals and products on an on-going basis. For more information on IBSystems please visit http://www.ibsystems.com/.
David Heller, 408/850-9201