I can't believe I didn't write anymore about the UKOUG conference, it is the best in the world! But then again I was so busy it was just a complete whirlwind with no time to take it all in let alone blog, then afterwards it was 'catch up' then 'clear the decks' for the day job and then the holiday season.
So how can I quickly summarise UKOUG? It was great, numbers were good and as ever we had lots of very happy attendees.
BUT, UKOUG has outgrown the ICC which is the only venue suitable in the UK. Yes there are lots of bigger exhibition centres but not with the number of breakout rooms we need. By trying to get everyone into one conference we have grown to five days, and cannot give everyone the level of detail they want, on top of all that the smaller communities feel lost and exhibitors cannot easily tell who is interested in what.It was still successful this year but down to the sheer hard work of everyone involved, speakers, staff and volunteers.
So what is the solution? Earlier this year we tried something different with the JD Edwards community and held a separate event for them under the same conference banner, this was great, they had 4 times the number of people they had at last years conference, some delegates had not been to a JD Edwards conference since before the PeopleSoft acquisition of them. And at the ICC we had a separate event for the PeopleSoft community.
On the Sunday before conference we have a SIG Chairs meeting and it was put to them that we should have a conference series, spread out over the year and finishing with the traditional event at the ICC but back to a more manageable 3 days. The feedback was that we should go for it and the details of the series can be found here.
One big advantage I can see is with keynotes, as a user group we have the reputation of being world class and this attracts high quality keynote speakers, but with the impossible task of shoehorning it all into the ICC we have had to have parallel keynotes for topics that should have plenary slots. Taking these communities out into their own event means we can give them what is deserved and continue to attract the best executives.