In February Iwrote about my confusion on the re-branding of the On Demand Conference to Publishing Exchange. I attended the On Demand Expo and the Publishing Exchange Conference and my confusion continued. Like the many other comments which have been written about the event, over all I am concerned and was disappointed. Some other comments regarding the event were:
“I think the lack of turnout was because prospective attendees could not figure out who the target audience was for this content”- Chuck Gehman; “
“The challenge for On Demand is that it must keep the print providers (and vendors) and add the publishers and new media types” – Charles Corr.
On the one hand there were some excellent sessions. On the other hand – there were just not enough of them. The print industry and digital print experts continue to talk about reinventing and finding ways to improve print but, the whole first day of the conference was pretty much dedicated to Publishing which in my opinion itself was being redefined.
As a consultant I find all of this very interesting, however as a former print operations executive I long for the old days when I could hear from customers and supplier resources about what they needed and how I could meet their needs. I question whether those providing equipment or involved in the print industry will spend their discretionary funds for conferences and expositions in the future. Many have already started offering their own events for their customers and prospective customers.
What drives the choice to attend?
Personally the amount of content I have to choose from is very important. This year Publishing Exchange had less than 40 conference sessions while the co-located AIIM Info 360 had over 100 and Xplor over 60 plus 2 facility visits. I want to have clearly defined tracks and a good selection of sessions in each. I want the information to be useful in the near term, if we don’t pay attention to the near term performance and profitability we will not survive to the future.
With so manyevents both in the spring and in the fall my question to you is how you choose which ones to attend? What are the most important factors for you and your company?
I have already stated my bias for content, but more importantly if I am paying to attend an independently produced event, I expect the content to be balanced and independent not slanted to the sponsors. If interested in a specific supplier you would be better off in seeking out a service or equipment suppliers free educational offerings. Interestingly, many of the former sponsors of these shows are now producing their own events and bringing in top notch, independent speakers. They may in fact be more concerned about not appearing biased at their own events than at those they pay to sponsor.
I am less concerned about the location, however the cost of transportation, hotels and food is important as these easily add up to more than the conference cost itself. Is having more detailed information of the presentations in advance important to you and what about full copies of all session presentations being available after the conference? Do we find more narrowly focused offerings or broad sweeping events more valuable? The conference organizers are struggling to keep pace with changing dynamics of our industry and making their organizations successful at the same time. Telling producers more about what is important to us before the events rather than offering a critique after might be helpful. Having a venue to do this across multiple venues as well as the possibility of a show guide comparing all of the options for different events would seem very beneficial to all parties.
If we want better events to attend we need to speak up on what we want and make sure to give credit when someone gets it right.