Friday, December 12, 2008


Conference Attendance is on the decline...

In a down economy, the first thing that gets cut is education...

2009 will bring with it many conferences that are no longer viable and where you will see last minute cancellations of events. The conferences that have the best chance of survival are the ones that shifted more of the expense to software vendors who pay lots of money for booth space and where attendees don't have to pay fees.

Some of the conferences may observe the shift in economics and make their events for free but will make one fatal mistake. As software vendors will be expected to pick up more of the expense, they too will demand even more speaking slots which will be filled with thinly veiled chock-a-block eye candy PowerPoint that lacks substance causing the attendees to not attend for other reasons and hence the downward spiral begins.

The funny thing is that as conferences seek more money, the software vendors will want to spend less and the economics simply won't work. The funny thing is that software vendors (at least the masses) haven't realized that there is a viable alternative and ways to meet end customers without shelling out so much money. It is best known as local user groups.

Consider the economic model if a vendor decided to sponsor the upcoming Hartford CT Chapter of OWASP where they would gain access to hundreds of IT professionals for the cost of pizza. Think about the economics of investing $2 a head vs the usual $50 or more for sponsoring a conference such as Gartner. Sure, there are some additional things that Gartner provides such as mailing lists that user groups don't, but you will typically find that there is a correlation between the two.

For IT management, you need to do what is right for your company economically while also continuing to increase the competencies of your IT staff and user groups are the absolute cheapest way to accomplish this goal. For vendors, you can sponsor an OWASP meeting for a total cost of $200. First come, first serve for our next meeting on February 10th...

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