4 things I learned at IDS

April 1, 2011
Proofs Editor Kevin Henry shares with readers four things he learned from attending IDS in Cologne, Germany.

By Kevin Henry, Editor

I write this editor's note as I sit in Der Lowenbrau, one of my favorite restaurants in Cologne, Germany. It is a great place along the Rhine where the Kolsch flows freely and the mushrooms covered in Gorgonzola can't be beat as an appetizer (or even a late night meal).

The 2011 version of IDS closed its doors earlier today after another incredible meeting. The halls were filled with booths and potential customers. The weather was the best it has ever been in my five trips to IDS. There was a buzz in the air as people filed into the exhibit hall to look at new products and technologies. Simply put, it was a great atmosphere to be a part of for a week.

I filed daily reports from the meeting during the first three days of IDS, and Dr. Paul Feuerstein did a tremendous video on the innovations he saw in Cologne. You can see all of our reports from Germany in one place by clicking here.

In this note, I thought I would give you my overall impressions from the show. Certainly I welcome your thoughts and feedback any time through my email at [email protected].

1. The time for digital dentistry has come. That may seem like a strange statement, but this IDS was the meeting where the technology showcased in Germany for the last several years seemed to mesh together. 3M and Straumann announced plans to "establish open global standard software for the dental industry," and rumors have 3Shape (a company that will become a real player in the U.S. market soon) joining forces with other companies to form a similar alliance. These agreements will allow dentists to have more than one choice when using an in-office CAD/CAM system. 3M and Straumann, working with Canada's Dental Wings, are hoping that other companies will join their alliance in time, allowing for an even more open network for dental offices.

2. If you only know U.S. products, you have no idea what you’re missing. While many of their products will never make it to America, it's fascinating to walk through the pavilions of dental companies from Korea, China, Italy, Israel, and many other countries. It's while I’m here in Cologne that I’m always reminded that our industry is truly a global industry.

3. Companies believe the economy is coming back. Judging by the high-priced items launched at IDS by such companies as ACTEON, Planmeca, and Heraeus Kulzer, dental manufacturers believe that dentists around the world are ready to spend money. When a company debuts a product that will cost a dentist more than $200,000, that tells me they have faith in the future strength of the economy. Here's hoping they’re right.

4. There is no trade show like IDS. Can you imagine walking down the aisles in Chicago or Anaheim and seeing one of the booths with a performance similar to "Stomp" going on for their customers? Can you imagine a restaurant inside a booth at Yankee or Hinman? How about several booths with live dentistry unfolding right in front of the customers? This is what happens at IDS. It is a show where the customer's interests truly seem to come first. Customers aren't kept outside the booth ... they are invited in for drinks and snacks. There are certainly lessons to be learned here.

Those are my thoughts on this final day in Cologne. As the boats churn down the Rhine, I think about heading back to the United States after my train ride to Brussels tomorrow. But before that, there is one last plate of mushrooms to be eaten.

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