Urs Seiler, Managing Partner Smartville AG, Zurich
Experts agree that it is not a question whether disruption is coming but when. It will in my opinion affect most trades: The music industry is already disrupted, the publishing industry is partly disrupted if we agree that a lot of bloggers are already better than classical editorials, a lot of small businesses (shops) have disappeared and most of the trade, who do not have a online offering will in my opinion be affected.
The futurist Gerd Leonhard (read his classical column «humans need not apply» in LinkedIn) has said in our interview on the digiconomy: «Algorithms do not create real relationships, they only imitate them.» And: «The digital transformation will never replace human relationships, it will make them even more important.»
Nevertheless there is no reason to give the all clear to exhibition organisers for the one reason, that in the future, the winners in the marketplace will be those, who manage to create a marketplace365 (during 365 days of the year), not only during the time of the show, no matter whether they are existing show organisers, publishers or a tech company. What counts for exhibitors and visitors is the business which in the future will take place live and will be extended online. Marian Bosshart of the Toy Industry Association Toy Fairs in the USA has said to this: «Digital experiences are natural because the selling process does not stop after the show.»
As regards disruption, Christopher Keese, Executve Vice President of Axel Springer has answered in the German weekly newspaper Horizont on the theory that internet giants like Google, Facebook or Amazon could take over heavyweights of the German industry: «The presumption that we might see takeovers on a big scale are not at all unrealistic. Such takeovers are completely within the logic of the strategy of these companies.» Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in the Swiss marketing magazine Persoenlich: «We are afraid of Google. For once I need to say this openly, because none of my colleagues dare to do this in public. We do not know any alternative, which offers even marginally comparable technological conditions (note: like Google) on an automation of the advertising process.»
This is why we recommend traditional show organisers to at least speak to specialised tech companies to extend their shows beyond their limitations of space and time. I strongly believe the time is right now before it is too late.