ITU Telecom World expo shifts in response to economic crisis

By , IDG News Service |  Networking, telecom

On the Cisco booth, there are almost no products to be seen -- unless you count the looming bulk of one of its TelePresence systems, linking the booth in high resolution to similar systems around the world. Other elements of the Cisco product range are present virtually thanks to another screen, supplied by Massachusetts-based Kaon Interactive. This shows images of the products that can be rotated on screen to examine them from different angles -- and even measured or dismantled so that prospective buyers can figure out whether they would fit in their data center.

Like Secretary-General Touré, Cisco faced a crucial decision last year about whether to maintain a show presence in Geneva.

"One year ago, it wasn't clear how many customers were going to make this trip," said Suraj Shetty, the company's vice president of worldwide service provider marketing.

However, the company realized that "this could be used as an opportunity to shift how we get contact with customers," he said.

That's why the rest of the stand is given over to meeting rooms.

"Our focus is on customer intimacy," Shetty said.

Carrier Ethernet specialist Ciena has taken a similar approach. Its stand, close to Cisco's and even more discreet, consists entirely of meeting rooms. Like Cisco, it prefers to show products virtually, rather than physically.

"Computer graphics and touch screens are more effective in these cases. That's the trend," said Ciena CTO Stephen Alexander.

If you're buying bulky network or data center infrastructure, then don't expect to kick the tires at a trade show next year -- although you might be able to click on them, on the booth's screen or your own.

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