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In the Spotlight: NXTcomm’s Wayne Crawford
By Carol Wilson

May 15, 2007 11:05 AM

In January, Wayne Crawford assumed the position of executive director of NXTcomm, the newly minted annual conference and exhibition of USTelecom and the Telecommunications Industries Association. Crawford brings considerable trade show experience to a considerable challenge--stage a major event that normally takes more than a year to plan in only about six months. He spoke with Editor-at-Large Carol Wilson about what visitors to NXTcomm can expect.

On his trade show background: I’ve spent over 20 years in the exposition management industry, both working with associations and for-profit companies in a variety of industries including manufacturing, jewelry and technology. Most relevant was on technology side where I have worked with National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Electronics Show.

On the challenge of large events: I think the challenge is always keeping it relevant across a number of horizontal markets. CES and NAB are large horizontal shows and in a way NXTcomm is horizontal as well.

On how NXTcomm differs from predecessor shows: It’s going to look broader in terms of the number of market segments and technologies that are represented. Supercomm was a great show but primarily focused on wireline service providers. Globalcomm took it further by expanding the reach to enterprises. NXTcomm has a much broader conference program, in terms of different types of technologies represented and much more of its emphasis is placed on technology as it relates to the entertainment industry. The primary thing that is driving all this infrastructure growth and investment is public’s demand for and corporate demand for video over IP networks. Obviously the bandwidth demands are so much greater than what we have seen in the past for voice telephony and Internet traffic before content and video were major drivers.

On the new entertainment focus at NXTcomm: On the show floor, we are making a very concerted effort to broaden the scope. You will see more satellite, more Wi-Fi, more WiMAX, more IPTV. We don’t want to get away from the core – backbone and broadband networks. But we are adding content and entertainment on top of that.

On expectations of differing attendees: That is certainly our goal. You target both your exhibitors on the show floor and your conference content to attract a broader range of attendees. We are looking at the enterprise piece of it which is a huge piece and not just the Chicago area but nationwide and global as well. We will go deeper into corporate markets which are very big, like healthcare and manufacturing. We are leaving no stone unturned in terms of our marketing. Email blasts, trade magazines, advertising. An awful lot of grassroots marketing through carriers and Chicago/Midwest.
World Business Chicago has been very helpful in partnering with us to reach out to companies, particularly attendees but on the exhibiting side as well.

On what will look familiar to previous Supercomm attendees: We have excellent engineering conferences. There will be a lot of companies on the show floor with traditional broadband and wireline telephony products.
The core of Supercomm – you are still going to see that.

On quickly pulling NXTcomm together: We look at this as a several-step process. Given the normal time frame it takes to produce an event of this size, which would be 15 months, we had about six. What we are looking to do is accomplish everything we can and make sure this is a fantastic stepping stone to ‘08 and beyond. Because it is a relatively broad show – vast vertical markets like satellite, cable, wireless – we trying to bring all of those different technologies and industry segment in a huge way this year and that is a huge undertaking. It will take us a few years before we get there.

On attendance expectations: Looking forward, we are reaching the metrics we set up for ourselves. One is our square footage goal. We will have over 200,000 net square feet and more than 400 companies exhibiting. That is bigger than last year’s Globalcomm and bigger than TelecomNXT as well. The other is attendance, won’t know until we get there. Pre-registration is strong – we are looking to draw 20,000 people.

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