Personally, I think that most trade shows are not worth the time or money (even considering all the trinkets and trash I get to bring home from them for my kids). Sure, there are gems out there, but the amount of pay-to-play systems at most makes the industry analyst game look tame by comparison
, resulting in content and presentations which usually paint one side of a story that could easily lead one to make the wrong business decision (IT, sourcing or otherwise). But regardless, trade shows are still a vital part of the technology and business ecosystem, and they're at least one gauge about the health of sectors and even export economies.
Consider that according to Forbes, Citigroup has maintained a buy rating on a company, China's Global Sources, Ltd, the China sourcing "trade show king" which "stands to cash in for the full year as a result of China's rapid economic growth." Now Wall Street analysts can often be wrong. But the fact Citi is putting their name on a report and basing their rating on the fact that "Global Sources continues to benefit from favorable macro trends such as strong China export trade and continued robust growth of the domestic China economy" should help dispel any notion that China sourcing is on the wane -- even if you stay as far away from the glitzy show halls as possible.