RealTime IT News

Online Schmoozing With an AMD Hand

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- AMD isn't in the tradeshow business, and company officials insist it doesn't want to be.

But the chipmaker is the primary mover behind a virtual tradeshow Web site, launched today, that features a handful of tech heavyweights, such as IBM, Oracle and HP.

Virtual tradeshows have been tried before with limited success.

The potential upside is saving on travel and the convenience of virtually attending a trade event from your desk.

This first effort by AMD, with help from Design Reactor, improves on some earlier efforts, but doesn't appear to threaten anyone's tradeshow business.

There are a handful of keynote addresses on serious tech topics -- videos of speakers with 3-D graphics of a fake audience and canned applause.

You "travel" around the show floor via mouse and pick what you want to see, which is a fun element. Unlike a "real" tradeshow, here you can leave at the click of a mouse or decide to return later and pick up where you left off.

"We want to get this out and see how people use it," Bruce Shaw, AMD's director of worldwide commercial and enterprise marketing, told internetnews.com.

"The kids growing up now and getting into business are far more apt to respond to multimedia than a PDF or something static like a whitepaper."

Standard PDFs and documents are also offered at the site; you simply click the documents you want at each booth and they're assembled into one file folder you can take with you at the end of your visit.

A treasure hunt for visiting different booths and prizes is also planned.

One early tester of the system, Brian De Long, approved of the site.

"We're a small company that can't afford to send a lot of people to trade shows, so this makes accessing the information we need much easier," said De Long, IT director for Carmichael Training Systems.

"I also like being able to get at the site anytime I want. Also, I might see something more important to someone else in the company, so it's easy to just pull someone over or let them know to check it out."

But while your CFO might like the idea of saving on travel, people don't always go to tradeshows just to gather information.

There is, for example, the chance to talk to and catch up with people from other companies and the opportunity to take a break from the office.

AMD said it will offer online chats with other attendees as well as with companies at the various booths.

Longer term, AMD plans to work with partners to expand the number of events and product offerings.

"This is not a marketing flash in the pan," said Paul Dodd, a manager for AMD's worldwide commercial marketing.

AMD commissioned a study by Russell Research that found 44 percent of tradeshow attendees felt they did not get their money's worth. Cost and time were cited as two of the largest drawbacks to attending a trade show.