Calling time on the BPM Conferences

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.

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3 responses to “Calling time on the BPM Conferences

  1. This is interesting and I have always wondered how much value these conferences actually bring. Most of what is covered by one conference is almost always repeated at another.

  2. Belt buckles are tightening everywhere, but lets be honest, conferences have also always had a bit of a reputation of being junkets and good excuses for people to get away for a few days. You are right – content is king! Can’t wait to see the content improved and I may start attending more conferences in the future.

  3. To your points – this is why we’re doing bpmCamp (granted, focused this time round only on lombardi products and practitioners) for $100 per person – which is to cover food and transportation/parking costs. I think Lombardi made a mistake pulling its in-person Driven conference in 2009 – but the timing was, no doubt, not good in the spring of ’09! Much improved by the time Appian’s conference rolled around in the fall. Some of the vendor conferences (including Lombardi’s and Appian’s) are actually reasonable cost-wise. Unfortunately, virtually meeting does not offer the same level of thought-provoking discussion and networking that an in-person conference does. I think finding regions with critical mass of local attendees, augmented by a few out of town guests, is the proper formula.

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