Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Roadshow lessons

Yesterday I went to the latest Adobe Creative Suite Roadshow in Auckland, and I learned a lot, but probably nothing that Adobe intended: I learned to listen more closely so myself, about the graphic design industry in New Zealand, and even something about an area of Auckland I hadn’t been to before. But those lessons were not always positive, and my feelings about the Roadshow certainly aren’t.

The last Roadshow I attended was two years ago, when Creative Suite 5 was released, and I wrote at the time:
The event itself left me completely underwhelmed, even if the software itself has some attractive features. I doubt I’ll attend another.
I should’ve listened to myself. Two years ago I also wrote, “I seriously thought about flagging the rest of the day—the morning had been such a waste.” That feeling was repeated this time and, in fact, I did leave early, though not until the afternoon break.

It wasn’t all awful: This time, unlike two years ago, Adobe provided tea and coffee during the breaks—along with cookies and fruit. Much better. They also mentioned iPads and iPhones this time, apparently having gotten over their hissy fit with Apple over that company’s refusal to integrate Adobe’s Flash into iOS devices (customer needs rightly trumped the company’s hurt feelings, although apparently only grudgingly). They also talked about Android, too, of course.

However, there were again only four exhibitors, including Wacom (which, as far as I know, has been at all of these Roadshows), which was exhibiting giant tablets—bigger than many people’s monitors, and costing as much as a car. There was no benefit to me in those exhibitors being there, and I suspect that was true for most of the attendees. The cheap Adobe bags (same as previous two Roadshows) contained two product fliers for companies who were not at the Roadshow. There hasn’t been any “swag” given away for many, many years. There was still no schedule, but this time they posted it only—and had more professional looking posters stuck to the wall.

This time, instead of massively long sessions for all their software, Adobe introduced “breakout sessions”. In the morning, the two were on interactive design for web and various e-documents, the other was on video. I don’t do web or video, but chose the latter because I know nothing at all about their video software, even though I have it (more about that later). It was mildly interesting, but, probably obviously, not very useful. I could have gotten as much from online videos.

The afternoon session continued from the morning one, but up against it was a session on InDesign and, basically, print-based software. That would have been much more useful to me, and I should have gone to it instead, since the video one was basically more of the same from the morning. Without a schedule, I didn’t realise that until it was too late.

So, although the video presenter was interesting and well informed, it wasn’t particularly useful to me. The only thing that might have been slightly useful was the InDesign session I didn’t attend, but, judging from the one I did go to, I’m sure I can get all that information from videos online.

So, I’d say it was total waste of my time. I won’t go to another one, and this time I really mean that.

One thing I hate about these Roadshows is something that Adobe can’t do anything about: I don’t know anybody there and so I feel isolated and detached. But because of that, I noticed that the crowd was quite different from what I expected.

I wasn’t even close to being the oldest person there, with most attendees appearing to be in their thirties and forties. I find that fascinating because when I started in the print/graphics industry, graphic design was a young person’s field. I learned in the past that the attendees are often in video or photography, which isn’t a stereotypically young person’s profession. However, it’s entirely possible that it was more senior staff, supervisors, managers and the like, who made up the bulk of attendees, because they’re the ones who make the purchasing decisions, or recommendations, at least.

In the video session, we were asked who was a “member” of Adobe’s new software subscription service, Adobe Creative Cloud. I was one of maybe three people in the room who are, which shocked me: Every other time I’ve attended one of these, I’ve been far from the cutting edge early adopters, but this time I was out in front. One thing that the subscription does is it gives access to all Adobe software, including the video suite.

Worst of all was the area. The venue, Viaduct Events Centre, has some big shortcomings—one-person wide escalators that were hopeless when everyone was moving at once.

The area was called North Wharf (which made me wonder where “South Wharf” is—there isn’t one, by the way), and was a barren, empty windswept theme park interpretation of a waterfront—but I’ll elaborate on that in another post. The important point for this post is that there are now small food places—they’re all big and expensive barns that were all nearly empty and uninviting, even more so than the high prices. So, I didn’t get any lunch, but walked around the area for an hour.

After the second video session ended, I left and went home. I didn’t stick around for the Photoshop session or the “feature shootout”, both of which I was pretty sure would be pointless.

So, the biggest lesson of the day is that next time I’ll listen to myself: I won’t go to the next Roadshow.

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