Midrange Optimism for In-Person Events in 2022
January 26, 2022 Alex Woodie
If you’re hankering to reconnect with your IBM i colleagues in person this year, we have good news for you: In-person events are set to make a comeback in 2022. COMMON’s annual POWERUp conference in New Orleans in May tops the list, but many other groups are making their physical comebacks, too.
COMMON president Gordon Leary is eager to bring the world’s largest IBM i user group back into the physical fold starting May 23, when the POWERUp 2022 conference kicks off at the New Orleans Marriott. So are a lot of COMMON members who haven’t seen each other in two years.
“We knew that there was pent-up demand for education and in-person events from potential attendees, exhibiting partners, volunteers, and the speaker community,” Leary tells IT Jungle. “COMMON is known for our in-person conference events as the place where this IBM i community connects with each other, so we knew we had to bring that value back in a safe and responsible way. As we see more and more industry events returning to in-person, albeit a little differently than ‘normal,’ we are cautiously optimistic to return to in-person as well.”
The past two years have been tough on COMMON. In March 2020, the Chicago-based organization cancelled POWERUp 2020 less than a month before it was set to begin in Atlanta, Georgia. It quickly rescheduled the event, where we would have celebrated the group’s 60th birthday, to late summer in Tampa, Florida. But about a month before that event was set to be held, COMMON was forced to cancel it too, thanks to a late summer COVID surge. The group pivoted quickly and held it as a virtual event.
Ever the optimists, COMMON leadership bravely scheduled POWERUp 2021 to take place last October in Virginia Beach, Virginia. But thanks to the Delta variant, the group was forced to cancel that event and take it virtual again.
With the recent Omicron surge starting to wane Leary is confident COMMON won’t have to take POWERUp 2022 to Zoom school.
“No, we never considered POWERUp pivoting to a virtual event,” he said. “We have plenty of virtual education and events planned for 2022. Our upcoming FOCUS conference will be an all-workshop virtual conference, and then our Fall NAViGATE conference is being planned as a hybrid event.”
It’s not clear at this point whether masks and social distancing will be in effect for the show. COMMON is following the city of New Orleans’ guidelines on the matter, Leary says, and it’s closely in contact with city officials. Currently, those guidelines require masks and proof of vaccinations or negative COVID test to gain entry to indoor events.
Leary hopes that POWERUp attendees understand the situation. “Like everyone else in the events industry, they remain cautiously optimistic, and know that sometimes the decision is not in their hands and defer to company policy regarding travel,” he says. “The same applies to speakers and our exhibiting partners, who are probably even more excited and anxious to get back to in-person conferences and talking with attendees.”
COMMON isn’t the only midrange user group starting to venture out into the world again. The Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association (WMCPA) is jumping into 2022 with both feet by committing to an in-person conference in March. It will be holding its annual spring conference March 15-17 at the Lake Lawn Resort. WMCPA is also holding its monthly meetings in-person.
The OCEAN user group of Southern California has several in-person meetings planned, including a March event featuring IBM i security expert Carol Woodbury. (February’s meeting with IBM’s Tim Rowe will be online.) The group typically meets at a university in Costa Mesa. The group’s annual summer shindig will be a hybrid event that’s held physically and virtually.
The Omni User Group is also venturing out into the real world. Last week, the Chicago-based organization held its first face-to-face meeting in two years at a local restaurant. IBM’s Scott Forstie was the guest speaker. A little bit east, the Midrange Meetup of Michigan is also back scheduling in-person get-togethers in 2022. The next meetup will be February 8th at a restaurant in Grand Rapids. Meanwhile, down in Nashville, Tennessee, the IBM Midrange User Group is holding a meeting tomorrow at a restaurant, with Dan Magid the guest speaker.
Like many other local user group, the Mid-Atlantic Group of IBM i Collaborators (MAGiC) is keeping its monthly meetings online for now. But the group is planning to hold a two-day, in-person event this June. MAGiC also typically hosts an annual conference in Virgina Beach, Virginia, in the fall; last October’s conference was a hybrid event.
The North East User Group Conference (NEUGC) is bringing back its two-and-a-half day conference, which it traditionally holds in the spring. Its 30th annual conference will take place this year from April 11 to April 13, according to its website.
Our IBM i colleagues across the pond are also readying themselves for meeting face-to-face again. The i-UG, which is the UK’s biggest IBM i user group, is scheduled to hold its i-UG Conference North on February 3 at a hotel outside of Manchester. COMMON Europe is also gearing up to host an event from June 13 to 16 in Alicante, Spain.
If you have any IBM i-related events scheduled – in-person or not – let us know by dropping us a line on the handy dandy IT Jungle contact page.