CTIA E&A: Can the industry support an enterprise-focused conference?

Sue MarekSAN FRANCISCO--For those of you who are joining me here for the 20101 CTIA Enterprise & Applications conference, you have probably noticed something about this show: The glitz is gone.  

The show floor is smaller, the meeting rooms less populated and the media center less crowded. There are fewer press conferences, fewer news announcements and definitely fewer parties to attend. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--but it is strikingly different than just a few years ago when the fall CTIA conference was buzzing with entertainment companies looking to get rich in the wireless industry.

As I wandered the uncrowded halls of the Moscone Convention Center yesterday looking for my next appointment, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason this conference isn't attracting the enterprise crowd at the same rate as it drew the entertainment industry isn't because enterprises are less enamored with wireless technology. Clearly they want wireless to help them streamline their business, make their employees mobile and save money. 

But unlike the entertainment firms, CIOs at major corporations are not interested in getting rich off wireless. They are key customers for the wireless carrier and therefore they have a different incentive for attending a wireless industry conference. In fact, I'm not sure there are clear reasons for them to come to this show. As key customers, they are probably expecting wireless carriers to show up at their industry trade shows in their specific vertical markets just as all their other vendors do. 

Don't get me wrong, there are clearly some big enterprise firms here--Sybase, Western Union and Ford Motor Co., to name a few. And perhaps the number of these major enterprises will grow as this show continues on its enterprise-focused path. But I have to wonder, is there a better way to show the enterprise market what wireless has to offer? --Sue

P.S. The XYZ bar at the W hotel was the unofficial hangout for all the current (and former) mobile entertainment folks who needed a place to gather at this show Tuesday evening. It was fun to see some familiar faces.