AUSTIN More attendees, more exhibitors, an expanded online experience, and the use of 3-D mapping were some of the notable changes for the second year of Dell World, December 11 to 13 at the Austin Convention Center. The conference brought together nearly 4,500 customers, partners, and resellers—about three times as many as last year—to see the company’s newest products and hear about future plans.
Dell worked with Jack Morton Worldwide on the event, including a redesign of the main expo area, known as the Solutions Showcase. The layout provided theaters and lounges grouped into neighborhoods oriented around five main topic areas. “Last year we really focused on areas of the business, the way the product sets exist for our customers; this year we tried to orient it around a customer conversation,” said Liz Lathan, Dell’s event marketing director. “We picked out the five forces disrupting business today—things our customers are dealing with, whether it's information security or how to manage social networking—[and] we oriented around these five forces.”
Nearly 60 partners participated as exhibitors this year, a 30 percent increase over last year. Dell also created new opportunities for partners to be involved, such as leading sessions and sponsoring customer events.
Dell expanded the experience for online attendees. In addition to streaming the three keynotes—including President Bill Clinton—organizers provided a mix of prerecorded sessions and Webcasts, all managed from a live news desk on the show floor. “That news desk was the way to get people engaged in the Solutions Showcase,” Lathan said. “We knew if you can’t come to Dell World, it’s really difficult to have a good understanding of all of the buzz that’s happening. Our news desk allows you to see it in action. We had roving reporters, we had interviews with the subject-matter experts, and we even took online questions.” The company incorporated 3-D projection mapping into videos and transitions used during the keynotes “to make complex technology conversations approachable and fun for our audiences,” she said.
Dell World continued to involve attendees in games and created leaderboard displays to encourage social sharing. Also new this year was the company-created Social Media Prize Machine, which dropped prizes when customers “liked” the Dell Facebook page while standing near the machine. “There was a crowd standing around. You never knew what was going to come out of the machine. One person would walk away with a ballpoint pen, another with a USB key,” said Lathan.
The dramatic growth in attendance over the first year was due to a calculated effort to transition from a small, executive-level event to one that involved more people at the manager and director level. For the future, Lathan said Dell World will stay about the same size, but it may add user group activities in the days leading up to it.