From the PSA-TEC show floor

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05/26/2010

Yes, it’s a little slow here at the end of the day. While the show floor and venue (Rosemont Convention Center, just outside of Chicago) this year are bigger and better than the epically outdated Pheasant Run that PSA-TEC has frequented in past years, there are still more than a few booth folks who are frustrated with a lack of attendees.

Also, while PSA-TEC is rightly trumpeting good growth, with 40 percent more booths and going from about 750 to 1050 attendees, it should really be noted that before this year non-PSA vendors weren’t allowed to exhibit here and this is the first full year of having Reed Exhibitions work the back end of the event. If the show weren’t bigger and better, it would have been a disaster. Whether this is a success or not in terms of volume is somewhat hard to peg.

However, people are big fans of the training here, and I’ve heard anecdotally from integrators that the sessions have been full and that they’re pleased with the level of education. Further, while you do have to pay for the training, PSA has a cool program where you’re given “training bucks” in proportion to the amount of product you buy through the PSA co-op, and so most PSA members are allowed to use those training bucks to pay for just about everyone they’re bringing here, including the cost of transportation and lodging. That’s a pretty good feature of being a PSA member (and they are looking for more - you need to be more than $1 million in revenue and commit to doing about $200,000 in sales through PSA, apparently, though those numbers are a bit flexible depending on where you’re located).

Still, kind of a dead show here at 5 p.m., and for many people it was a little dead all day.

Sometimes this is because the products they have for sale are a poor fit with the attendees, primarily commercial systems integrators. Or the booth people are poor at engaging the people who are there. One manufacturer told me he’d picked up 50 leads, which was okay since he’s local and just brought his booth over in the back of the truck, but would have been a bit of a struggle if he’d had to fly in and ship his booth.

Still, the companies with some buzz had decent traffic. Arecont and Exacq were right across an aisle from one another and seemed to be feeding of each other’s traffic. Next Level is in the CSC booth and people were eying their cool new media server, on display now and available in September, that allows for recorded video, live cameras, and advertisements to be served through a single appliance, with all of the streams showing on a normal off-the-shelf video monitor at the same time. Samsung bought considerable space and had nice couches, which didn’t hurt their traffic. People were crowding the Milestone and OnSSI booths at times.

Video remains king in terms of dominating attendees’ attention, even though many of the access and intrusion guys have good RMR stories to tell. RF IDeas has a good story to talk about with its readers that can leverage ID cards you’ve already sold customers, so they can use the same card for the front door as for logging onto their computers or copiers, but their solution didn’t look all that “sexy,” and a lot of integrators just passed them on by.

Most of the integrators I spoke with were looking at IP-based solutions, many retaining a fair amount of skepticism. The regional rep for Pelco I spoke with said integrators weren’t exactly beating down his door for the Sarix cameras, and said virtually none of them was interested in the OV analytics add on. Nor was the thermal doing well yet - but he attributed that to price point, which is high because of the fact that Flir is making the camera and Pelco is reselling it. He predicted a native Pelco thermal camera that’s being worked on now would sell better at a lower price.

And a company like BIAMP Systems, which has a good story to tell about IP-based audio communications for paging and mass notification, was having a little trouble engaging integrators who expressed a lack of knowledge about audio in general. Many integrators still seem unwilling to expand too far outside of their installation and design comfort zone.

What’s the best way to get integrators interested in ancillary product lines?

I also heard a great deal of talk about potential merges of IT and physical integrators. Jim Henry walked by and I asked him, “when you gonna buy an IT integrator.” He didn’t laugh in my face. He called it a matter of when, not if, but was looking at how best to do it. Do you try to get someone national, and then line up the office structure? Or do you buy someone regional and then scale them out to the Henry Bros. footprint? And do the valuations these IT integrators are getting make enough sense for them to be eventually profitable?

Essentially, if you’re looking for a show where you can have great conversations with a lot of high-level people in one place, PSA-TEC is an excellent venue for that. If you’re looking for training and education, I haven’t heard anyone complain PSA-TEC doesn’t deliver good value there. If you’re an exhibitor looking for a place to generate a ton of leads, it might not be your spot, but if you use the event wisely, it’s probably worth your time and effort.

If you just want to sit behind a table in a 10×10 and collect business cards and scan badges? Not your event.

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