Daily Archives: May 13, 2015

Influential Damnation 99: Conferences

After SI’s recent posts that asked Are Conferences Perpetuating Supply Chain Stasis? and made A prediction from the doctor with regards to Big Procurement Events, you might have been expecting conferences to make the list of damnations.

If you were, you get a virtual fortune cookie. If you weren’t, better luck next time.

The reality is that conferences are damning for all involved parties except one. They are damming for you the attendee. They are damning for the presenters trying to educate you (or not). They are damning for the vendors trying to demo their wares. They are damning for the analysts and bloggers trying to take something away to share with your peers. The only people they are not damning for is the organizers fattening their pocket books at the expense of vendor and participant alike.

As a practitioner, you are damned because the organizers are most concerned with making the event a success, which, in their book, is profitable. As a result, if there are not enough presentations of high caliber, they will take proposals of moderate caliber, and if there are not enough proposals of moderate caliber, they will take proposals of low caliber. And if their focus is Sourcing, they will take Sourcing vendors as lead sponsors and exhibitors first, but if there are not enough Sourcing vendors, they will take Procurement vendors. And if there are not enough Procurement vendors, any Supply Chain vendor with supplier data collection capability makes the cut. And so on.

As a vendor, you are damned because some of these events can cost you upwards of $20,000, with no guarantees. There’s no guarantee that the attendees are going to be interested in your product. Even if they are, there’s no guarantee that they are of the right seniority or have any ability to make a buying decision. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get a booth in a high traffic area. And if you get a presentation slot in a multi-track conference, there’s no guarantee anyone is going to show up.

As an analyst, there’s no guarantee the presentations are going to say anything new (worth reporting). (This blogger knows for a fact that some presenters on the junket circuit give almost the same presentation year after year after year.) There’s no guarantee that the vendors are going to be presenting technologies you expect to be covering. And there’s no guarantee that the attendees are going to be willing to share anything worth covering either.

In the end, only the organizer is guaranteed to win.