embedded world 2021 - heading digital
Last year, as COVID-19 was getting warmed up, embedded world was one of the last events to be able to go ahead in a physical format. However, with the crisis ongoing, this year the show has transitioned to a digital-only event. Electronic Specifier’s Alex Lynn caught up with Benedikt Weyerer, the show's Director Exhibitions, to find out what visitors can expect this year.
Going ahead online, there are lots of things that are going to be different about this year’s embedded world. Many of these are changes that everyone in the industry is familiar with by now, following a year of experiencing them. The forums, talks and keynotes are all still going ahead – and are arguably more accessible than ever, as having them take place online has introduced a note of added flexibility in attendance.
At embedded world DIGITAL, visitors will be able to find the familiar staples they are used to, including all the latest in embedded products and trends from a long list of exhibitors, the embedded world Conference and electronic displays Conference, forums on the latest trends in the industry, the embedded AWARD, and keynotes from renowned speakers such as Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies; ; Professor Peter Liggesmeyer, Technical University of Kaiserslautern and Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE); Paul Gray, Senior Research Manager, Omdia (part of Informa Technology); Randall Restle, Strategic Advisor, Digi-Key Electronics; and Kevin Dallas, CEO, Wind River.
One of the things that has suffered the most with the new digital format of exhibitions is the networking experience, and without face-to-face interaction, the ease of chatter has suffered considerably.
Weyerer explained: “The hardest part about digital is getting people to engage with each other. Of course we can have an interview and video chat with each other, but it has to be planned - there is no spontaneity in meetings. Nothing is in motion - when everyone was travelling for trade shows it was a full sensory experience, walking through the halls and meeting people had an energy to it, and I think that energy is very hard to translate to digital.”
Despite these difficulties, embedded world has come up with several ideas to make networking at the show easier, in the hope of getting back some of that social experience, which is where some of the best partnerships are born.
Weyerer went into more detail: “Everybody registering gets asked some questions about special interests, products and topics they want to discuss - almost like typical matchmaking questions.”
Using the answers to these questions, an algorithm shows every attendee the other visitors and exhibitors that best match their areas of interest, providing a steer for everyone towards who they might like to interact with first and foremost. embedded world DIGITAL is also giving visitors the chance to be able to see what other visitors are looking at and interacting with, so that you can scroll through the participants and find valuable contacts that way as well.
Weyerer also explained the ‘roundtable’ function - another solution to networking online that is being rolled-out at embedded world: “It’s not the same as a product presentation where one person is presenting to many - the roundtables are limited to about 40 people and they can all interact with the exhibitor and ask questions by audio or video. This way interested people in the topic can really interact.”
The show is also introducing ‘Jump In Discussions’ - at a certain time slot each day of the show there will be hosting rooms that facilitate people discussing topics in larger groups, hoping that the constrained time slots will bring in a more concentrated group of people, and fill the room enough for a lively discussion.
Finally, embedded world has one more idea to help with networking, and it is similar to the tactic used for blind dating. Being steered towards people with similar interests – as all the other ideas do – is great to help with networking, but at physical shows there is an element of unpredictability, and sometimes the best partnerships come out of unlikely places – someone you bumped into as you were queuing for lunch may well turn out to be your most valuable contact. To try and rekindle this element of physical trade shows, this networking solution matches you randomly with other people looking to network, and gives you two minutes to see if there is any unexpected partnership that might blossom between you.
As part of the digital offering exhibitors can also create their own chat rooms, where they have the opportunity to set up open discussion forums for lectures, discussions, company presentations and product presentations, for example, and invite specific participants.
It is easy to be negative about online events, but if you’re looking for a silver lining, or to make the best of the current situation, then having a digital show has relieved the travel, time and cost constraints for many potential visitors and exhibitors. Therefore, by being online, embedded world DIGITAL has had a much larger number of US-based sign-ups, allowing the show to reach a bigger audience, and may open up connections that couldn’t have been made at the physical show.
When life has returned to normal, Weyerer expects embedded world to continue to take on a hybrid format in the future. There is no replacing physical trade shows – something we’ve all felt the absence of this year – but making what is discussed at trade shows more accessible to people unable to travel certainly has its benefits.
Finally, some highlights Weyerer advised visitors to keep their eyes peeled for were the embedded world Conference, the keynotes from industry leaders, and the five panel experts including one discussing diversity and gender balance in the embedded community.