ATD ICE 2016 – Post Review

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If you were like me and attended the ATD ICE 2016 show, you would have come away exhausted.  That is a plus in my book.

For me, it was a tad different this year. Yes, I spoke and I heard lots of positive feedback, which is awesome – and a big thank you for those who attended.

For those who did not or could not – no worries – here is my M307_What you need to know before purchasing an LMS in all its PDF glory.  It is a big file – FYI.

Back to the show.  Okay besides speaking, I had my debut booth at ATD ICE. Lots of folks interested in my Find an LMS service (I find three LMSs for you) and my new e-learning strategy services (contact me if interested). 

BTW, as a bonus to my post birthday  – I am offering 25% off my Top 50 LMS 2016 Report. Use the discount code: SummerFun (one word, includes caps for S and F).

And before the review, I want to thank readers of the blog and followers of mine on social media, who stopped by and said “hi”.  Great honor, seriously so thanks again.

Enough about that, let’s dive into the show itself. 

I saw a lot more folks than in previous shows and more e-learning vendors too.  Equally there were several ILT vendors who had some type of online learning thing going on.

Still there are plenty of hold outs on the ILT side, especially those creating “leaders” or developing coaches.  Trust me, you can do that stuff online and it can be way better than just face to face.

The key I found is that these folks are unaware of the potential of e-learning and what it can do. 

For my foodie folks, no worries, my take is in the Good, Average, and Poor.


  • I’d estimate 55% of the vendors were e-learning; with the majority being LMS or LMS related – as in I’m not an LMS (okay, whatever works for you); a few authoring tools – surprising to see so few, especially for this audience; web conferencing was nearly nil, course/content providers (3rd party) – super low – but DDI was there and they are good, so it slightly offset it – but still .
  • Seminars in general – As with any show, there was good seminars, average and downright awful.  I heard from folks about the awful one – during general chats. But there were people who stated that they attended great seminars so there is that. 
  • More interactive when it came to identifying sessions to attend, seeing where the vendors were located on exhibitor floor and so forth.  BUT where is the freaking geolocation. I still am amazed at that being not in a mobile app. 
  • Vendors overall more engaged with their visitors, but as with anything not universal – the ones I shame will be coming shortly!
  • Accessibility in general – great!
  • Overall feedback regarding the event in general – Good
  • Meet and Greet – go out to dinner with folks – Awesome.  Every show should offer this and yet, I go to plenty who do not.  Please do!
  • Location of the event – it was easy to get to. The seminars were easy, albeit mine was in like Nevereverland, “hello – is anyone out there?” The expo floor was accessible too.  Far superior than in past events – remember DC? Vendors were in the basement. Dallas? Anything to do was far away. 


  • Those bags they give you. Not really user friendly. Whoever gave the phone attachment like wallet thing – heard pluses on that.  Now the question is will people remember your name?   
  • The food – I’ll slam what they did wrong in the bad section
  • All that stuff in those bags. Who reads that? I toss mine quickly. I keep the exhibitor thing, the session book – those are great, the rest? Marketing materials – where is the recycle bin?  Why can’t all that stuff – marketing materials and such be on the app instead?  Save the Paper!
  • Some of the seminars. As noted above. A gripe I heard from some senior training people was that there weren’t enough seminars targeting them. 


  • Okay, this is all about the food here and people with allergies or other.

I am not the only person at the show who is lactose intolerance. A good friend of mine, she is as well.  And I surmise there are plenty of others. And yet, the food always had cheese on it. Every sandwich had cheese.  One day they had I think Pizza, can’t remember – but it was cheese.  

The salads were not – oh, wait, they had a veggie sandwich with ricotta (cheese) on it. 

As for the other veggie sandwiches – you know people who can’t have dairy due to allergies and intolerance, can have meat.  One sandwich had some type of mayo (which sometimes people put dairy in) and cheese.  

The coffee? No soy milk. No almond milk (which is big in Denver).  My gripe to all of this, is that this happens at every ATD show. How hard is this to fix? 

I know it is hard to tell the location to remove cheese – but try it by opening your mouth and saying, “no cheese”.

Maybe, I don’t know – ask people when they register if they have any food allergies.  I saw it at one show, and it was fab.

Okay, back to the “bad”.

  • Too many vendors having paper documents for people to take.  I wonder how many people read those documents, when they get back to the office. Mine usually went into my “I will review” later drawer, which I never opened.
  • Not having the presentations on your app. Lots of people complained to me (post show about that).  At the minimum a link or something to the presentations that are in PDF.  I get the app piece – lots of presentations PDF wise out there.
  • WiFi – Better than in the past, but still awful. The best speed was the Denver hotspot you could locate in certain places in the CC (convention center).  I used my smartphone 4G/LTE on the floor.  The rooms were a mixed bag.  The sponsored WiFi (vendor name to be withheld), never was strong for me. I suspect it was probably due to the number of humans hitting – i.e. using it.
  • Cafe and food location – Would have been nice to let people know that there was a place to get stuff in the CC.  I found it by accident.  The main cafe – Bear something or another – yeesh, I think I aged by 20 years waiting for the guy to ring me up. 
  • Vendors who fail to get the concept of you – the customer being the most important person there.


Clearly there are sales executives who have not trained their people on how to act in a booth at a trade show. Three big issues were front and center.

  1. Eating in your booth.  One person was literally eating while I was asking about a product. If you have more than one person, you schedule times to eat. It is not that challenging. By yourself? Put a note on your table and a time you will return.  Nothing says – poor, than eating in your booth.
  2. Using your smartphone regularly. I get sending out Tweets or other types of social media – I did it myself, but not in front of customers, not when customers are in your booth, and not when you are standing front and center in your booth.

One of the worst offenders were Ingenuiti.  Nice people, but one person was nearly attached to her smartphone, even when people were stopping by.  I saw plenty of folks in other booths doing the same thing. 

     3.   Making the customer feel as though they should be honored.  One person I chatted with, told me that to get some information, the vendor decided to verify/assess whether this person was a candidate.  It is a freaking trade show.  She said afterwards that she felt they were giving off the impression she should thank them.  The vendor? SumTotal.

I ran into the issue myself with a few vendors who seemed as though they were too busy to talk to me (even if a bunch were just standing around), too busy to show me a demo (even when they had it on the screen), assessing/verifying you as a prospect,  talking to you as though you were an imbecile or treating you poorly in their booth – as in nasty.

Here are the ones I’m calling out and SHAMING 

  • SumTotal –  I should add that in a previous e-mail discussion (which will be posted in my Linkedin group) they backed away from having me see the system front and back for a product review.  Their retort, “We do not have the ability to make an instance of our product”.   At the show, I got the cold shoulder from one person.  There were others who just ignored me – and other people at the booth too (I guess standing and talking to your colleagues is more important than prospects).
  • Open Sesame – I already informed them of what happened. I just wish I could remember the person’s name.  Oh well.
  • Rehersal – Whoever was the top dog, immediately used the “Craig” thing – which you know, I might want to be called Mr.Weiss or “Fred the dog boy”, who knows – I just hate when people think they can just call you by your first name – as though they are your friend.  Anyway, he went right into the pitch, even though all I asked was if they still had the parquet floors. They don’t.   It was a though I was on a used car dealer lot, and whammo – sales person is right next to you.

Side Note:

eLearning Brothers

They are not listed as part of the issues of bad I have above, but rather, their approach to their salespeople’s booth location.

Look they do a great job selling their stuff at any trade show that I have seen but they love to stand at the edge of their booth when folks are about to enter.

Retail 101 says you should never stand at the edge of your store, department (at a store) or any place where people are about to enter.  If you apply this to a trade show, which you should, then you can see why intimidating people comes into play.

I was told by a senior exec, it was fine for them to do this, because they get so many people coming in to buy their products. 

I’m happy for them, but on the flip side, how many people avoided them by this practice? When this was noted, he retorted they were three deep at one time.

I will add that I was not alone in my consternation about standing on the edge.

A couple of very close colleagues, including one who is on my global think tank, said the same thing when we were chatting. 

eLearning Brothers makes terrific products, but this attitude and approach for standing on the edge, IMO, is a minus.  And something that can easily be changed.  If they want to, that is.

15122026_sTop Products

This year was tough. As I saw a lot of wonderful products at the show. Some that have been already recognized, some not.

Let’s zing right in.

GoMo Authoring – Great product. Like them. SaaS Authoring Tool. Big minus is the analytics angle – which I see in some other SaaS RCATs too.

dominKnow Claro –  I love the latest version – a big winner in my book.  I think they are morphing more into a hybrid learning platform with the strength being the cloud based authoring tool. 

Lots of new capabilities and a renewed commitment to making it even a better offering. 

eLogic Learning – The newest version is a major winner. This is an updated UI that is slick. Feature wise continues to be strong. A potential #1 contender for 2017, we will just have to see how it plays out. Perfect for internal and external audiences.

ExpertusOne – Current #1 LMS.  Excellent offering. Minimum folks in my book is 1500 internal.  They also do external B2B/B2C.

Docebo – Their soon to be released (in June as I recall) Docebo Coach and Share module is great.  I wish it was part of their Docebo Learn offering, but we can’t have everything.

But the winner for the 2016 ATD ICE show is.. drum roll.


Who you might ask? Soaq.

I started to take a deeper dive at the product and the more I learned the more I liked.

The product is sort of a “YouTube for m-learning”.  Well that is sort of its pitch, and for me it is an understatement on the power of this product.

Mobile all the way, and I’d go tablet with this baby, although yes you can do smartphone.  Yes, it has the video appearance of YouTube. Yes, you can use YouTube, but here is the sweet spot for me – deep learning.

You read that right – it uses predictive analysis – which I call deep learning – to identify future content to view based on certain variables including what you – learner has viewed.  Thus for me, the best part is the deep learning functionality, targeting groups of learners (if you want), security always important and totally cloud based. 

The product has yet to be launched but you can sign up for an early test. I went to their web site, and the video on it – is lame, so ignore that.

If this product delivers as it appeared to do when I saw the “demo”, then I think it has real possibilities to do wonderful things with m-learning and video.  It is not going to be for everybody, but it seems to showcase some cool capabilities.

I’ll know more in a few weeks – when I fully test it out, and then follow up with a robust review of the offering.

Bottom Line

ATD ICE had something for everyone. It was strong in some areas and weak in others. But, it was better than last year, and last year was good.

It still needs to adapt to the needs of today and the future tech of tomorrow. It’s mobile app should offer more capabilities. 

Let’s add some collaboration feature sets with upload video of where folks are and their comments.  Let’s include some rankings – as in top booth by appearance. 

Axonify won this year – and yeah it was slick.

More importantly though,

let’s include more future tech items (not everyone goes to ATD TK),

let’s add sessions targeted for senior execs on leadership or dealing with staff or whatever,

let’s be at the forefront for learning

Because that is where we are today.

And where is the future of training and learning is going?

 in E-Learning

E-Learning 24/7











  1. Interesting take on ATD from viewpoint as speaker and vendor. As a delegate I also experienced some highs (notably the Keynotes) and lows and plenty in between, both at conference and on the expo floor.
    If anyone would like to read a review of the event from a first-time delegate perspective, I blogged a daily diary here
    Oh and they had soy milk in the conference cafes (but not a lot else).

  2. Hi Craig – just wanted to check in and say congratulations for your first booth, sounds like a huge milestone and I’m sure it will do wonders to promote your business. Cheers, Ant

    1. Thank you so much. Yeah, it was wild, had no idea on how it would go, but felt it was time. Thank you for the positive vibes back!

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