Softworld change or die… ??

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Softworld event at Excel in London. I say pleasure… when really I have to say it was probably the poorest I have attended to date. Manoj Ranaweera, whom I had the good fortune to meet, summarised the event in his own blog here he quotes:

Softworld is UK’s premier event for accounting software vendors. I was a regular attendee during the days of ebdex (my first tech startup), but have not attended the event during the last few years. Those days, the event was held in Birmingham and was seen as the annual showcase event for accountancy software. It was at least 3 times bigger than the event I attended yesterday, and was buzzing with people. In contrast, yesterday’s event was not just small but it seems that the organisers forgot to invite buyers.

So what has gone wrong… could it be the format hasn’t changed for years and is tired, was it the location.. it was very nice but a hike to get to, the exhibitor presentation rooms claustrophobic and uncomfortable, even though they were restricted to 18 people sitting and a few more standing at the back, or is it that buyers behaviours have changed?

I would say that it did appear to attract prospects from the higher end of the market. I for one didn’t see much in it for the small vendor, despite what some are claiming. I suppose if it’s your first one you have nothing to compare against and it’s down to what you consider to be good at the end of the day.

Someone said that Softworld was for the dinosaurs of the industry… I think they were nearly right in that Softworld itself may be the dinosaur, not the vendors.

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  1. #1 by Manoj Ranaweera on October 21, 2010 - 4:06 pm

    Hi Stuart

    Thanks for the mention. It was good to meet you briefly. Aqilla claimed to have success, where as some of the companies I spoke to clearly were not. I did not think the location of the venue was a problem, but I know the others disagreed with me, saying it took them more than one hour to reach once landed in London by train.

    Let’s hope the organisers will consult all opinons and innovate rather than repeat the same next year.

    regards
    Manoj

  2. #2 by Softworld on October 27, 2010 - 3:51 pm

    Hi Stuart,

    Thank you for the write up and sorry to hear that you were disappointed by Softworld this year. As a representative of one of our exhibitors we take your views very seriously and we would like to meet with you to discuss ways in which we can improve in 2011. I’d ask readers to take Manoj’s comments with a pinch of salt, there are always people out there who’ll tell you the sky is falling (whilst trying to charge you a consultancy fee to prop it back up again). I’m pleased to say the buyers certainly were at the show but the number of tyre-kickers has gone down. Some exhibitors were busier this year, some were quieter but one thing they all agree on is that the quality of the leads is getting better.

    There is no denying the fact that the show is not as big as it once was. We all know that this is down to market consolidation; there simply aren’t as many vendors and resellers as there used to be. The habits of buyers are changing of course and the internet does provide an excellent resource of information about software. But it is no substitute for meeting face to face to discuss doing business. What we have now is a very well informed visitor audience who know what they are looking for and who they want to visit at the show.

    Some visitors want to engage with potential suppliers on an even more in-depth level than they can at Softworld and this feedback has prompted us to develop a new event format to complement the exhibition. Softworld Select was launched this summer and provided a group of invited buyers with a day of one-to-one demos with a personalised shortlist of vendors. The response from delegates and sponsors was excellent and many more are planned for next year.

    Rest assured, we are a hard-working team who like to engage with our visitors and exhibitors in order to deliver the best possible events. We have already started to look at the floorplan to try and accommodate a bigger and better theatre for you to use for any announcements you are planning next year. If you are available to talk about this and other ways you think we could improve in 2011 then please get in touch.

    Kind regards,

    The Softworld Team

  3. #3 by Manoj Ranaweera on October 29, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Softworld Team

    I only reported what I saw with my own eyes and many conversations I had with exhibitors. If you believe what I wrote was incorrect, someone else is not telling the truth. Of course, the Day 2 could have been much better, and I was not there to speak about it.

    I am also puzzled why you keep calling this event, “Softworld”, perhaps “Accounting World” or “Accounting Software World” would make it more relevant.

    Let’s take the chat offline, and keen to hear about your plans for the north west!

    Best regards
    Manoj

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