This week I am going to be in Las Vegas at the Experts conference. I was originally supposed to be presenting a couple of Exchange Server sessions at the conference, but those sessions were canceled because not enough people have registered for the conference.
I tend to travel to a lot of conferences throughout the year; some as a speaker, and some as an attendee. For each conference so far this year, the story has been the same. There have been very low numbers of attendees. This begs the question, are IT conferences dead?
I seriously doubt it. Sure, you can learn a lot of the same things online that you can learn at a conference, but the networking opportunities are extremely valuable. IT conferences sometimes get a bad reputation for being all fun and games, but I can honestly say that some of my best contracts, and the answers to some of my toughest technical questions have all come from conferences.
Right now with all of the economic uncertainty, it is only natural that attendance is down. Everybody is in survival mode. Companies are trying to cut costs, and one way of doing that is to eliminate non essential travel. Those of us (like me) who have to pay their own way are scaling back too, because we just don’t know what the future holds.
I don’t want to be all gloom and doom though. I am a firm believer in the power of capitalism. As long as the government doesn’t get in the way too much, then I think that it will only be a matter of time before the economy rebounds. When it does, I think that IT conference attendance will pick back up as well.