AIIM Conference – Boston, MA
Following a great week in San Francisco, and a too short stop at home we headed down to Boston for AIIM Conference & Exhibition – where we exhibited as part of the GALA Pavilion. We actually arrived on the day of the 111th Boston Marathon – ordinarily you’d have a pretty difficult time convincing me it was a good idea to go for a quick 26 mile run but with the weather that day I don’t think you could have paid me enough to get out there. Boston’s weather theme for the week was “miserable”. It was cold & rainy (verging on snow) for the entire week – well up until the morning we flew out of course.
The Show: We had gone down expecting a really crazy busy show – with 21,000 registered attendees how could it not be? The reality though, was that it was really quiet. Really, really quiet. Thankfully it wasn’t just us, it seemed in general the AIIM side of the show was a pretty sparsely attended exhibit floor. Part of the challenge I think is the AIIM Show also has a printing industry focused conference called “OnDemand” – this is where all of the big press and bindery equipment vendors come out to show their wares. That side of the floor was packed. There were times I would wander by the Xerox or Canon booths and they were just rammed, I saw it get to a point where it seemed physically impossible for another person to get into the Xerox booth.
It makes some sense though. Nowadays most people in the software industry don’t need to go to a tradeshow to see the latest products & demos etc. – Looking for a CMS? There are a handful of CMS review sites and every vendor either has a demo or webinar you can use to get a look at the product. I’m guessing most people who were there on the software side of things stuck to their conference agenda upstairs in the conference center. With the print industry though there is no getting around the fact that a press is big, heavy and doesn’t easily “demo” through the Internet. It’s something you have to see, touch, climb around and really understand and generally that can only be done in person.
As I’ve mentioned before the nice thing for us is when the show floor is slow we can just flip into Partner mode. The show was a great opportunity for us to get to know our new partners, VistaTEC, better as well as work on advancing some partnerships in the works – in these cases face-to-face time is everything.
In the end we still had an okay show – we had some really good conversations with the people who did come by the booth that we can hopefully turn into something but the jury is still out as to whether or not we’d do the AIIM show again.
The City: As I mentioned before Boston didn’t show us a pretty face, but it did manage to clear enough that we got out for a walk the first day. We made our way down from our hotel (Backbay Sheraton), checked out the Boston Marathon finish line and then went down past the commons and picked up the Freedom trail into Boston’s Italian neighborhood. After grabbing a quick bite we headed back up towards city hall to catch the “T”.
On the way we came across an interesting installation which turned out the be the New England Holocaust Memorial. A very interesting, and haunting design we stopped for a few minutes and made our way through it – if you’re in Boston it is definitely worth stopping by to see. I think we came through it at just the right time as well – it appears dusk-night is when this impressive memorial is best viewed. More information about it can be found here.
Over the next couple of nights we had partner dinners around town. On Tuesday night I made it out to Harvard with a potential partner and we grabbed some good food and even better beer at John Harvard’s Brew House – Wednesday we went out for a fun night with our friends from VistaTEC. Our Project Manager here at Clay Tablet did a little research for us and found a great little place called Red Sky Lounge – on that night they also happened to have a Frank Sinatra impersonator performing. Thankfully he was actually quite good, even if once and a while it was clear from the accent that this “Frank” was from Boston.
Our last night in town we were dying to find a really good meal – up until that point most of what we were eating had been downright inedible (do NOT eat at the convention centre if you can help it) to just barely surpassing mediocre. We’d had one place recommended to us which, thanks to Google Maps, we attempted to get to via the projects. When we finally got there though the place was packed – the hostess pointed us in the direction of some spots a little further down the road where we finally settled on a Sushi/Wine Bar place called Seiyo. I think the three of us demolished their biggest party boat in a matter of 5 minutes – it was quite good.
All in all I preferred San Francisco over Boston but that may largely be a function of weather and the very slow show – I think we’ll be back there in October for the Gilbane show so hopefully I can catch some good weather and get to see the city from a better angle.