IBM i Tech Conference Keeps Education Light Burning
July 23, 2012 Dan Burger
It is plain to see when you walk into any IT department when there is a learning environment in place. People are much more motivated to take on the challenges that constantly come their way. Compare this to organizations that make little or no effort to keep a sharp edge on IT. The wasted resources in those instances should be enough to choke a horse, or a CEO, depending on who was the first to pay attention to it.
In many cases, IT training and education doesn’t come cheap. Travel expenses plus food and lodging can be equal to or even greater than the cost of the training. Then there’s the bottleneck caused by having one or more people from an overworked IT staff out of the office for three or four days. Sometimes this is affordable and seen as a smart investment, but more often it has been and continues to be dismissed as nothing more than an employee perk, with little to be gained by the organization as a whole.
All of those things taken into consideration may be making the single-day tech conference the biggest bargain in IT education and training.
Last Friday, I attended the Ocean IBM i Technical Conference, an annual event hosted by the Ocean User Group of Southern California, the only sizable local user group for IBM i professionals west of the Mississippi and one of only a half dozen or so LUGs that organize a one-day tech conference with a diverse selection of sessions and a top-notch collection of speakers. Ocean is based in Orange County, California, and draws its membership primarily from Los Angles to San Diego. Several of the attendees I spoke with mentioned that this conference was the centerpiece of their annual training budget and how much bang for the buck they received from attending. I’ve heard similar stories from attendees of one-day tech conferences hosted by local user groups in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
This year the event attracted 140 paid registrations, which is a small dip from a year ago. Overall attendance was about 180, counting the volunteers and vendors. Fifteen IBM i ISVs supported the conference. These numbers seem to be slightly above average for the other IBM i-focused one-day tech conferences that I’m familiar with, but when those attendance numbers are compared with the number of IBM i shops in the major metro areas, it’s rather appalling. It shows a serious lack of business intelligence, to steal a term that most CEOs seem to be familiar with.
The cost of registration at the Ocean Tech Conference was $225 for members and $325 for non-members. And an early registration saved you 50 bucks.
Is this the kind of money that makes training and education too expensive? Only if you determine that the value of your IT department is zero.