ACI 2011: Thoughts about conferences in general
Another ACI has come and gone. This one, ACI 2011, was the biggest one yet. That in and of itself tells you something important about our industry and the larger direction of things. Beyond that however, here is what I took away from the conference. To be fair, I didn’t attend very many sessions. After a decade of attending ACI, I feel the quality of ACI sessions is beyond serious question.
I’m often asked by people relatively new to the industry where they should spend their conference travel dollars. I almost always tell people that if they have the resources they should attend both RESNET and ACI. If they can’t and they’re new to the field, they should probably pick ACI. If they are primarily charged with running a company, organization or need to be involved in larger policy issues then RESNET is probably the better choice. Now, this is just my opinion and I’m sure others would have a different perspective. To be fair, both conferences have excellent technical content and both have pertinent and timely policy content. One man’s perspective.
This year was like every other hear in that the content was excellent. For any conference, after several years of attendance, you begin to feel as if you’ve little to gain. A common conference complaint for the person who’s been to several years of the same show is that there isn’t advanced content for them. True to some extent, but most people should be able to go to at least five years of a particular conference before they’ve tapped everything it has to offer.
Of course, that’s the time (or even before then) that you should be becoming part of the conference, more on that in my next post – Conferences – Taking it to the Next Level.
One of the primary reasons that we go to conferences of course is to see people that we rarely otherwise see. Networking is not only fun and satisfying, it’s key to building a successful enterprise. I just came across a great piece by Keith Ferrazzi called Conference Commando, on how to maximize your conference networking experience. Not many of us are going to do everything that Keith suggests, but even doing a few things will help you get more out of your conference experience from a business perspective. I highly recommend reading it and implementing some of his suggestions. Happy conferencing and good luck out there!