It’s fair to say that the conference circuit is a lucrative industry. Delegates pay around $1,000 or more to attend, Vendors pay up to $15,000+ for sponsorship packages and some speakers (depending on your gravitas) walk away with a little in their pocket too.
But now it seems this time is over. In the last 6 months there’s a growing trend towards offering massive discounting or 2-for-1 deals (is this a professional meeting or a team huddle at Walmart ?!!) to try and attract the numbers. And it’s not working.
Lombardi pulled its famous Driven events from being physically located to purely Online now following a call from its members stating they could no longer warrant traveling and the expenses that incurred. Rumblings from the recent Spring Gartner BPM conference suggested that there was nothing new to warrant actually going. And more worryingly, a recent european conference had only 20 attendees….including the speakers ! It would seem the majority attending came from the Middle East and they understood a little about BPM and process initiatives but did they need to come all that way to learn ?
So what does this mean ?
(a) BPM doesn’t cut it as a subject anymore ?
(b) BPM still is little understood outside the professional circle
(c) There’s no new messages or content coming out anymore
(d) Middle East is the last untapped resource (pun) for BPM
(e) No-one has the budget in this economic climate for a 3 day jolly out of the office
It would seem a combination of all of the above. For years conference organisers have used the same speakers time and again, the same companies to showcase their success stories. How many times can hearing about a Six Sigma success told in a different style be a crowd-pleaser before people start to get weary and slope away. There is no innovation from event organisers and it’s actually killing the messages and real showstopping stories from getting out.
What’s more, given the large number from the Middle East it would appear this explains the reason why so many BPM practitioners are moving outside of the US and European circuit because there’s still oil to be found there and they have the desire (and money) to learn.
Isn’t it time the conference organisers woke up and realised that CONTENT is king and not the turnstiles ?
Can’t we as a profession stand up and help them understand this, help them get our message out there, help them come up with a new pragmatic format which meets today’s demanding conditions ?
Or will we remain at their disposal and just sit on the sidelines listening to stories of old around the campfire….
Over to you.