An attendee survey at DAC shows why engineers keep showing up.
Social media may have captured the attention of the design automation community and the world, but don’t be so quick to write off face-to-face networking opportunities. Or, so say DAC exhibit-only attendees who took time to respond to our after-conference survey.
When asked what they learned during visits to exhibitors, one attendee’s comment seemed to best sum it up: DAC offers a way to compare vendors and tools, something that’s difficult to do during a vendor visit and not easily found online.
Demos, information, question-and-answer sessions are reasons to attend DAC wrote several others. Another noted that the most recent tools and state-of-the-art technologies are better viewed in person, while short demonstrations help explain the tools and software, and how they’re best implemented. One commented on the sense of excitement.
Events like DAC provide a forum for more in-depth technical discussions, affirmed a respondent, especially since there are people staffing booths who work on R&D teams. One mentioned having a chance to have discussions with executives, while another seemed delighted to meet in person someone he or she had been speaking with on the phone.
Personal interaction with tool experts helps to learn about the utility. One respondent offered the view that meetings during DAC often resulted in more practical product details. In fact, roadmaps were mentioned several times.
One engineer noted that they seek out more generic applications for a tool, rather than specific applications targeted to their design flow, to get a sampling of other ways to use it. DAC is a venue for quick comparisons, remarked an attendee with candor. He or she can ask a question that a company may not want asked, yet the company spokesperson will respond with real answers, not just sound bites. Another designer wrote that more information can be extracted talking to other people attending the same demo. He or she also liked learning about other designers’ experiences and project overviews often shared at DAC.
At a booth, remarked one attendee, he or she can ask about details that may not be obvious on the corporate website. After all, searching around a website may not provide the right information or, as if often the case, the search parameters might not be the right ones.
Another attendee wrote that usually not much new information is available. Sometimes, though, this attendee conceded that he or she will catch glimpses of new features and tools that a vendor has not mentioned. Or, attendees meet a vendor that they did not interact with until they saw them at DAC.
Occasionally, the conference appeals to the secret agent in all of us. One attendee admitted that it’s a way to learn if there are some new features coming along or for getting a feel for how the tool works before engaging directly with a vendor. Another finds out how competitive tools are, which design teams are switching tools and why.
One respondent summed up the DAC experience with: “I go to DAC mainly to see what’s new, explore solutions that small companies offer and to do some networking.” Networking and checking out who is still working in EDA and for whom, commented another, and seems to be part of DAC’s allure. The ability to interact with peers in the same field is a comment shared by a variety of respondents. Another said that interaction and networking helps to find out more about a company’s future direction.
DAC’s global reach was evident from one attendee who offered advice for all English-speaking presenters to speak more slowly for those attendees whose first language in not English. This is good advice, no matter who’s in the audience or where they’re from.
And while several respondents confirmed that they found information about EDA on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, most continue to use our traditional communications channels and Google for information gathering, including the DAC website. This may shift over time, but for now, all — social network sites, onlines, traditional media, corporate websites — should be fully used by the design automation community and exploited by EDA vendors.
The survey’s obvious conclusion drawn from the survey is that events such as DAC are still relevant and useful to the design automation community. In fact, more than half of the attendees who took the survey said that they will be at DAC in San Francisco next year. So, too, will Magma. We look forward to seeing you there.
Rochelle Drenan is senior director of marketing at Magma Design Automation Inc. in San Jose, Calif. She has been at Magma since 1999. Prior to joining Magma, Drenan held senior engineering and marketing roles at Valid Logic Systems and Cadence Design Automation. She holds a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from California State University at Dominguez Hills.