In this season of industry conferences, keep in mind the opportunity they provide for you to visit with technology exhibitors. This may sound simple, but you should have a thoughtful game plan to get the most out of these visits. This is particularly important if you work with a larger firm where your research and findings will be shared with others.
Ideally, do some homework before the conference. Start by identifying the technology companies exhibiting and then create a “shortlist” of the ones you definitely want to visit. Too often, many of us approach an exhibit hall like shopping at Costco. That is, you simply walk down the aisle wondering what you might see without any specific agenda. This is not always a bad idea because you might stumble upon an interesting technology solution. However, don’t make this your primary approach to the exhibit hall.
Chances are, you won’t decide to purchase a solution right on the spot while speaking to a vendor (although it can happen). However, be careful not to dismiss a vendor or solution too quickly, especially based on limited information. More appropriately, your goal should be to gather enough information to help you decide if you want a more extensive review of their product. It is important to keep this in mind especially as you navigate the conversation.
To really have a productive and more efficient conversation with a technology exhibitor, first provide them the background and details of your existing core technology systems.
Specifically, what are the solutions that are the technology foundation of your firm? For example, your CRM, reporting system, trading tools, custodian and/or BD systems, etc. In addition, provide some context on how you use each of the solutions on a regular basis, especially the features that are critical for your firm. Ultimately, give the technology exhibitor enough important details to help them understand how their product might specifically “plug into” your firm’s existing technology systems.