Conferencing or a conferences I will go, a conferences I will go...
This is both the end of Spring (okay perhaps not technically but Memorial Day always seems the beginning of Summer to me) and the start of intensive conference attendance for me, with about a day and a half of semi-break in there.
Starting later today (Tuesday), I will be attending MetaGroup's Metamorphosis conference here in Chicago. Each year this is one of the best conferences that I attend in terms of networking, information, and range of people attending. It is a very technical conference, with an extremely high percentage of the conference attendees who are CIO's or other senior IT managers. Great networking and great learning, I hope that this year it will help me spread the word about MeshForum as well as help me position the software and consulting work that I do via JigZaw Inc.
2003/4 has not been my best year in terms of completed sales or revenue, but it is from networking at conferences such at MetaMorphosis that can help address that. Further by continueing to learn the cutting edge of IT thought leadership, and via learning directly from IT managers (and other business leaders) what real technology needs are out there I add to my value as a consultant and advisor to clients and enhance what I can deliver. Directly and via partners I have access to very advanced technology and to amazingly skilled programmers and researchers, my goal now leverage that to deliver real solutions to corporations and help them address compelling business needs.
My view of technology is that fundementally it is best used to solve complex problems by presenting them well, by automating that which can be automated, and by enhancing and leveraging that which cannot be automated. Much of technology is developed and deployed with very little attention to how the technology's use (as deployed) will positively impact the overall business. What I tell my clients is that there are typically many ways to solve a given problem, the key is thinking about what the current (and future) needs really are and the building from there, keeping in mind that simple, easy to use technology that rapidly shows value to all levels of users within the corporation tends to be the technology that delivers the greatest value.
As an independent company I am able to use the right set of technology for a given problem. Admittedly my technical expertise is strongest in writing software with a web front end interface, but fundementally my focus is typically more on the enterprise level than on the marketing/sales/consumer user level. Most of the systems I have written, maintained, and deployed have been enterprise in scope and design.
MetaMorphosis goes until Thusday at noon, however it is very likely that I will miss it on Thursday as I need to go from Chicago to Madison Thursday. Thursday afternoon and Friday (for most of the day) is my partial vacation. My girlfriend and I will be going to Wiscon which starts Friday late afternoon and runs until mid-day Monday. Each year Wiscon is the one science fiction convention that I attend. In a large part it is because many friends of mine, who live all over the country also attend it, but it is also very much because it is a very academically focused conference and one that each year helps inspire me to keep writing. It is also the very rare Science Fiction convention where I not only actually do attend panels, but where I typically am annoyed that there are so many panels occurring at the same time that I would like to attend, something that really only very rarely has occurred at any other Science Fiction convention that I have attended in the past.
This year as I attend these conferences I will be looking at them with a very different eye as I am deeply engaged in the planning of my own conference, MeshForum. Now besides taking advantage of the conference itself, I will be looking at the organization behind the conference, at the number of staff and volunteers, at the way in which panels are scheduled and organized (and moderated where that occurs) at how people are engaged and introduced to each other (or not as the case may be), at the work that goes into the conference before, during, and after it happens.
Earlier today I met with a very good friend of mine, who unfortunately has been recently diagnosed with a tumor on his spinal cord. Today was his last day (we hope) of radiation treatment and he is beginning to feel better and have more energy. He has agreed to help me line up sponsors for MeshForum, something I really appreciate and think will indeed help me considerably. His background is in publishing and marketing, he has published a magazine focused on the college market for well over a decade, and during that time has built up relationships with many national advertisers, many of whom are very logical sponsors for MeshForum. Over the next week while I am at my various conferences, he will be working with me on putting together a sponsorship package and sending it out to hundreds of potential sponsors for feedback and hopefully many checks.
When I return on Monday from Wiscon, I have a day to catch up and then on Wednesday I may be attending yet another conference, this one a smaller one day event sponsored by Fortune magazine here in Chicago, haven't yet confirmed that I will be attending that as I am also waiting on confirmation about a few small projects that may be starting next week as well.