OS/400 Edition
Volume 12, Number 2 -- January 13, 2003

COMMON Goes Industrial with Special Track at Indy

by Alex Woodie

Manufacturing and distribution will be in the fast lane at the COMMON conference in Indianapolis. The OS/400 users group announced last month that it will be offering a special track of classes targeting manufacturing and distribution concepts at the upcoming conference. Specific session-related details are still being nailed down, but a COMMON spokesman said that attendees will have six or seven industry-specific sessions to choose from during the five-day conference.

The special track of manufacturing and distribution classes will be geared toward non-technical users and will help them to understand how general business concepts--such as inventory, revenue, and fixed assets--tie into the ERP, CRM, and SCM software packages used by manufacturing and distribution operations. General topics expected to be covered by the classes include e-business on-demand, WebSphere, Connect for iSeries, B2B software, and Java.

Bob Krzeczowski, a COMMON volunteer working on the industry courses, said attendees can expect to walk away from the classes with the knowledge of how particular types of industry solutions can help the bottom line of a company. "One of the things folks will see in these sessions is a financial spin: 'How can I save money in my inventory control?' " he said. "These classes are much more focused on the bottom line for a company, and on a particular solution."

These classes won't shy away from mentioning how specific applications from third-party software vendors were implemented to solve a business problem. "Could it be MAPICS? Yes. Could it be WebSphere? Sure. Could it be a homegrown application? Absolutely," Krzeczowski said. "That's the way they're going to be structured: 'What kind of solution can I provide to have a direct impact on my bottom line?' "

While COMMON has historically avoided offering classes that endorse third-party products, it has been loosening those restrictions for recent shows. At the last conference, for instance, there were product-specific sessions given by ERP software vendor MAPICS, security software vendor PentaSafe Security Technologies (now part of NetIQ, and development tools and application framework provider LANSA. Experts who work for vendors have always been allowed to present at COMMON. But until recently it has been taboo for those experts to talk about the products their companies develop and sell (unless, of course, you work for IBM).

Class topics are always in flux. But the decision by COMMON, made during former president Charlie Massoglia's term, to allow more information about third-party products into the classroom was a deliberate move to try to appease the vendors, who are an important part of the conference ecosystem and have been complaining of low turnout for the last couple of expos. The decision to bring in more non-technical content targeted toward decision-makers can also be seen in the light of dropping attendance for the last eight or so conferences.

COMMON has offered industry-specific education in the past. What's different this time around is that COMMON is working with IBM's Small and Medium Business Group to pick class topics and content and arrange for people to present them. Also, the six or seven industry-specific classes scheduled for Indianapolis will be grouped in a sequence, on a certain day, making it easier for people to attend. "What we're tying to do is formalize it and make it available in a condensed version," Krzeczowski said.

COMMON expects to continue to offer these special industry-specific tracks at future conferences, with concentrations on other industries, possibly retail, healthcare, financial/insurance, and other strongholds of the OS/400 platform. Krzeczowski says the special track industry-specific classes will most likely be expanded for the fall 2003 show in Orlando, Florida.

More than 700 sessions will be offered at the next COMMON conference, being held at the Indianapolis Convention Center from March 9 through March 13. Registration is now open. The registration fee, which is currently $1,295, goes up to $1,495 after February 4.

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COMMON Goes Industrial with Special Track at Indy

But Wait, There's More. . .

Timothy Prickett Morgan

Managing Editor
Shannon Pastore

Contributing Editors:
Dan Burger
Joe Hertvik
Kevin Vandever
Shannon O'Donnell
Victor Rozek
Hesh Wiener
Alex Woodie

Publisher and
Advertising Director:

Jenny Thomas

Advertising Sales Representative
Kim Reed

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