It was great to find out for sure last week at Gilbane Boston that the economy has not had too much of an impact on the conference business (we even had attendees from a few financial service companies). While I’m sure there were some people who couldn’t make it because of travel or other budget concerns, our Boston conference was larger than our San Francisco conference last June. Of course most of our attendees are in IT, a sector that has not been hit nearly as hard as most others. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal wrote about a Forrester forecast that “Businesses and other organizations in the U.S. will spend $573 billion on computer software, hardware and services next year, just 1.6% more than they spent in 2008, according to new data out Tuesday from Forrester Research Inc.” Clearly, this is not ideal if you sell enterprise software, but really, for a fresh forecast for 2009, this is not bad. In fact, the content technology areas we cover seem to be rolling along pretty well.
I won’t try and write about all the discussions and activity at the conference here, but there was much a-twitter about Twitter. Our audience seemed to be split on its usefulness, but the animated discussions about it did cause a few people to sign up for a Twitter account. Although I joined Twitter when it first launched, when faced with the “What are you doing now?”, my reaction was “Well, this is silly”. So my first tweet was only a few days before last week’s conference. I’m sure there are other good uses of twitter, but so far I think conference activity is one of the best (http://twitter.com/fgilbane). It was certainly useful to me as a way to monitor what at least one segment of attendees were thinking and doing, but it also looked like it was a useful way for attendees to share info about different presentations, network, and arrange “tweet-ups”. This is not news to all. There are some downsides however – see Amanda Shiga’s thoughtful blog post on the pros and cons of conference twittering.