Richard FitzHugh of Storage Expo tells us what’s hot in the keynote and seminar sessions

July 12, 2007

Launchpad Europe was pleased to chat with Richard FitzHugh, Conference event manager for Storage Expo about the agenda for the show that has just been finalised this week.


Tell us a little bit about your role at Storage Expo? 

I am the conference event manager for the event, which basically means that I look after the educational programme. This enables me to immerse myself in whats happening out there in the industry – and it’s been a pretty dramatic year. A lot of technical advances and ideas that have been knocking around for a few years are now being delivered – and we are seeing a paradigm shift in terms of the drivers for Storage.  

Tell us a little bit about the seminar sessions and keynotes this year at Storage Expo? 

The keynote sessions are very much focused around business drivers. If you were to trace the messaging around storage back over five years you would find an interesting evolution. It would kick off with technical and capacity concerns – scalability, cost, future proofing, legacy technology etc and then we see an interesting migration towards compliance and business continuity. This year the message is perhaps not too surprisingly around environmental concerns. ICT has an equivalent footprint to aviation and the dramatic changes in storage technology are providing real solutions to mitigate the impact of increasing data storage needs. This might sound like a soft or CSR issue – far from it; there are some huge tangible dollar savings to be achieved from running more efficient Storage; one company in the UK estimates a $100 million saving per annum based on efficiency programmes implemented over the last decade.  

What’s hot in storage this summer? 

Green is the big issue this year, but In terms of technology and products there are no big surprises – email management, remote office support , virtual tape libraries for BC, Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) and serial ATA (SATA) disk technology to name a few. These have all been ticking away in people’s consciousness for a while, but the last year or so has seen these move in the realms of adoption.  

Which sessions do you think people should get to early as it wil be a standing room only? 

I would recommend getting there early for the ‘Green IT Debate’ on the 18th October 11.30 – 13.00. There will be corporate level speakers from some of the World’s leading Storage companies – EMC, IBM, HDS, HP, NetApps, Pillar Data – and with people like Hu Yoshida (CTO, HDS) on the panel this is sure to be standing room only. With six speakers all sharing the stage for an hour and a half expect some rapid fire high level commentary from some of the top names in the business.  

When do you start next year’s Storage Expo? 

The event closes this year at 16.30 on the 18th October. From there I will likely go for a couple of swift ones and then to bed. Storage Expo 2008 starts on the 19th – 9.00am ish.  

 What is the best piece of advice for exhibitors at Storage Expo? 

– KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE! There are four things to bear in mind …..  

1)To understand what constitutes the real ‘Decision Making Unit’ of a potential client; and to make sure that you are communicating both the business and technical messages to the appropriate specifiers and influencers within this unit. Once you have established this, you need to be listening to them and answering the right questions. They already know what their issues are, so you don’t need to tell them. What you need to understand is what is currently inhibiting them from making an implementation decision – and to explain how your product can overcome these inhibitors.  

2) To understand the maturity level of your potential clients. A lot of companies will focus their attentions on high spending verticals at the mature end of the spectrum – banks and the like. But it is important to recognise what percentage of your potential customer base these mature companies constitute, and whether it is sensible to be another fishing line in what may be a small pond. The early maturity companies from fast growing verticals may turn out to be a better focus for you. The important thing is to remember is that ‘if you cant measure it; you don’t own it’. Investment in leads-to-hits auditing is never wasted – and will tell you a lot about where your efforts should be directed; both horizontally and vertically. It will enable you to maximize your return on investment in future activities and trace clients to source. We are fortunate that Storage Expo shows an astonishingly high hit generation ratio for an IT show – that’s why most of the show for the next year is already booked out before this year’s has finished.   

3) Understand where your products are on the customer adoption path – and promote yourself accordingly.  If you are a young company with a new product, you need to be creating the market, in later phases of adoption you need to creating brand awareness and getting to the front of mind for purchasers. Moving through the point of sale you need to refocus your activities-  so make sure that you are spending money on the appropriate media and activities based on where your (potential) clients are.  

4) Make it fun.  It sounds a bit cheesy but you need to make your company stand out in an interesting way. One of the key reasons that people attend events is for the networking and social side of things… so make sure that you stand out from the crowd. Be a bit creative without diluting the importance of your products.  

What session am I most looking forward to?  

For me It is ‘Deal or No Deal’ in the keynote theatre 18th October 14.45 onwards. This is a great session where seven exciting companies get the chance to pitch their products to a panel of the leading experts and big budget purchasers in the business, in front of the keynote audience. With no notes, slides or props this can be a pretty intimidating thing to do – and the judging panel don’t tend to pull their punches. It is great entertainment, and a fantastic way to get a snapshot of some of the latest technologies coming on to the market. The companies taking part are really diverse in terms of their offering – Acronis, Neverfail, Pillar Solutions, Promise,  Quantum and Quest; but the one thing unites them is that so many independent sources are citing these companies as ‘Hot for 2007’.

Thanks, Richard and see you after the show for a few drinks!


One comment

  1. […] what better way to start than with our good friend, Richard Fitzhugh, king of the seminar program. (Richard was interviewed in the run up to last year’s program) Richard after a sterling job at InfoSecurity Europe’s […]

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