• United States

Mining value from tech events

Feb 03, 20032 mins

Conventional wisdom says that in today’s economic downturn, technology innovation is dead, or at least sleeping very soundly. Nothing could be further from the truth. While producing the annual Demo Conference, I spend the year talking to hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs, investors, inventors, IT customers and other industry seers. I read and watch, and in time I can knit the connective tissue among those conversations into a program that shines a light into dark places and brings clarity to a foggy future.

It’s popular today to presume that there is no light and the fog won’t lift, but from all those conversations I can tell you that innovation is alive and kicking in start-ups and established technology ventures.

Today, the process of selecting just 60 companies to introduce new products – companies that are doing truly innovative work, whose products and technologies reset the bar in their respective market places – is really difficult.

In corporations, new technology is focused on taming the infrastructure monster that was built during years of rich IT spending. At Demo 2003, Feb. 16-18 in Scottsdale, Ariz., we’ll highlight new products that leverage IT assets, align IT development with business priorities and demonstrate that Web services are very real. We’ll see security products that claim to be hackerproof. And we’ll host an array of solutions to nagging IT issues, including spam blocking and management, knowledge management, and business communications and collaboration.

New core technologies will show great progress in user interface, digital video and next-generation communication devices. And don’t believe that technology has turned its back on the consumer market. Demo will serve as the launch venue for a half-dozen new consumer products.

These days, it’s tough to afford a day away from the office, let alone the travel costs and registration fees that tally up at a three-day conference. And with the “booze and schmooze” reputation, it’s even tougher to justify the expense to management. But if you are planning to buy technology in the next six months, you need to spend your technology budget carefully. If those dollars are better spent because you have made the investment in time and money looking at the technologies that would help you manage your business and networks more effectively, then the cost of attending an event such as Demo would be well-justified.

Shipley is executive producer of The Demo Conferences. She can be reached at