As I sat at the Hilton Hotel bar on the opening night of last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference, an exhibitor came up to me and said, "I can go home now. I got enough leads tonight to justify what we invested in the event. Great show. " I was very pleased to hear this, of course. Another exhibitor approached me and thanked me. I mentioned what the first exhibitor said, and he said, "I feel the same way. "
It was a small sample size, representing just 1 percent of all exhibitors. But on the last day of the event, as I walked around the exhibit hall and thanked the exhibitors for their support, virtually all said to me that they were impressed with the number of end users in attendance, and excited by the fact that these end users had concrete plans for how they wanted to employ radio frequency identification to improve the way they do business.
That was very rewarding for me. Everyone at RFID Journal works very hard to create a conference program that will attract attendees, and to promote that program. We also work very hard to help end users find the exhibitors that have the solutions they need. We built a smartphone application with an interactive floor plan that lets attendees search for exhibitors by product, industry solution or name, for example (see RFID Journal Releases RFID Connect Smartphone App). We also created a large product showcase, ran a speed-networking session, and so forth.
I'm very conscious of the fact that for RFID Journal to grow, the entire industry must grow as well, and that means helping to connect buyers and sellers. If a company interested in using RFID to solve a problem does not find a solution when one exists, this is a lost opportunity to grow the industry, as well as the business of a provider with a solution. That is why I speak to many first-time attendees prior to the event. I listen to what they are trying to do and direct them to the exhibitors that can help. It's also why we created an Ask the Experts booth and invited objective academics and consultants to guide attendees.
This one-on-one matchmaking, I believe, is critical to growing the industry at this stage. But the event helps foster adoption in other ways as well. The best salesperson for RFID is an end user that has used the technology successfully. We spend a lot of effort attracting a lineup of speakers that includes executives from highly respected companies, such as Aston Martin, Bechtel, Daimler, Delta Airlines, General Motors, Marks & Spencer and Saks Fifth Avenue. These objective case studies, presented by end users, give other end users the confidence to invest in RFID systems.
Another benefit of LIVE! is all the marketing we do to promote the event. We print and mail a brochure containing a list of end users and descriptions of their projects to 100, 000 people. Even if someone receiving the brochure does not attend the event, we are constantly reinforcing the message that there are a lot of companies using RFID today to improve the way they do business. Our banner ads and e-mails to potential end users worldwide also reinforce this message. And the 200 solution providers that exhibit at the event do their own promotion, generating a great deal of visibility for RFID that would otherwise not exist.
The conference also underwrites the massive investment that RFID Journal makes each year in editorial content (any Web publisher will tell you that ads do not cover the cost of creating high-quality content, most of which is available for free). So the event helps RFID Journal educate readers year-round, and a large portion of our articles are focused on the benefits end users are receiving.
I think this year's event showed that the RFID industry is beginning to experience real growth, and I foresee that only picking up during the next few years.