UBM Tech introduced an online environment to support its DESIGN West conference last year, offering engineers a social environment in which they could rate content, make recommendations and interact. The platform, developed by UBM Studios and called DESIGN on Demand, won multiple awards from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events; but it won't be part of the event lineup this year, said Katherine Astromoff, CEO of electronics at UBM Tech.
The strategy surrounding the event technology has already advanced.
“We have evolved how we think about enabling engineers to share know-how with each other,” Astromoff said. The company, with such brands as EE Times, will build mobile event apps containing elements including a floor plan and a scheduling tool. But rather than developing an event-specific platform in which engineers can interact, UBM will integrate existing online tools that its audience already uses.
“The idea that we would build replicas of existing things didn't make sense,” Astromoff said.
Engineers prefer to learn through peer-to-peer communication, and the new generation of engineers has demonstrated an affinity for searchable databases and online communities, she said. “We are moving from a world where our websites are magazines on the website and moving to a world in which engineers are interacting with each other via online communities.”
Event conversation will take place in existing channels, including permanent vertical online communities developed with UBM's DeusM unit and the internally developed searchable database TechOnline, a product relaunched in November. “TechOnline will supercede DESIGN on Demand,” Astromoff said.
TechOnline provides access to company directories, product news, social media feeds and other relevant content. Marketers can manage their listings and develop their pages as a second website, Astromoff said.
“If people click on the page, that contact gets transferred to the company as a potential lead,” she said. “From a vendor-marketing perspective, we anticipate it becoming an easy-to-use demand-generation tool.”
The concept will also translate easily to the event environment, serving as a robust show directory, she said. “Right now, we're working on an events module where the exhibitor listings will be powered by and integrated with the directory. This is the fun part about having a network that addresses a particular engineering community. You get to link it all up, and it is integrated very tightly. It becomes an extremely defensible competitive advantage against our competitors.”