OCEAN Technical Conference Attendance Wows Organizers

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More than 260 people show up for the southern California conference designed to help users keep skills current with changing technology.

More than 260 people attended the OCEAN User Group Technical Conference this week, a significant increase in attendance over last year and the second highest on record, a welcome infusion of energy into the southern California IBM i community.

More than 30 vendors participated, and many came from across the country to set up small booths at the show that focused on modernization and the need for users to keep their skills up to date with changing technology.

Consultant Bob Tipton's lunchtime keynote, "Keeping the Edge through Innovation," struck a chord with users who also flocked to presentations by Bob Cozzi, Scott Klement, and Jeff Olen on Web development, integration, and PHP as the means to achieve future of modernization techniques on the i platform.

"People couldn't say enough nice things about the show, and the (OCEAN) board is positively ecstatic about the results," said Bob Langieri, OCEAN president. "Every vendor I spoke with said it is one of the best shows they have been to so far."

OCEAN board members knew they were facing a tough year when reports from other shows, including COMMON, showed attendance was way down, typically by about 40 percent. The board rolled the dice and decided to drastically reduce the price to attendees: $120, which covered not only a slate of 35 sessions with some top-name speakers, but a hot lunch at the Hyatt Regency, Irvine.

Vendor support was sterling, and there were only two unsold table-tops by the time the show opened early Monday, July 20, including the traditional book store sponsored by MC Press. A reception Sunday night drew about 50 speakers and vendors who networked for hours before moving on to another get-together hosted by S4i.

Langieri noted that, while there are some 4,000 IBM i affiliated users in the southern California area, fewer than 10 percent decided to invest in learning new skills by attending the cutting edge sessions at the conference. "Some people get it, and others don't," said Langieri who has been a longtime proponent of learning new skills as a way to maintain your relevancy to employers in a tight job market.

Past President Carole Comeau noted the conference's "extremely upbeat" tone and the fact that some people paid their own way or took a vacation day from work if their employers were unwilling, or unable, to pay for their registrations. One company, however, decided to send five people to the conference, she said, because the department's supervisor recognized the incredible educational value it represented given the reduced price.

Users did have fun along with learning some new tricks, and a few lucky ones walked away with a netbook, iPods, and a home theater system after the conference's end-of-day drawing. One fortunate prize winner will receive a $1,000 worth of training from Zend.

While IBM sent six people to the show as speakers, there were few high-level executives present to make any announcements on leak news of future developments. Last year IBM's Jeff Howard and George Farr kept the crowd enthralled with discussions of Power Systems marketing and new pricing for WDSc.

"We like to alternate years between IBM keynoters and independents like Bob Tipton," said Margaret Matthews, OCEAN board member responsible for setting up the stable of speakers. "People love Bob Tipton, who was outstanding and got nothing but positive reviews," said Matthews. "People felt his talk really applied to them."

For the most part, the speakers from IBM presented on AIX topics, but the conference was attended mostly by the loyal i community, and the Board has yet to find a way to attract the UNIX/AIX crowd who live and work in the region. Doug Mack, product marketing manager for Power Systems and DB2 Web Query spoke on that product and sat on a panel hosted by Key Information Systems and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising dealing with the Smart i business intelligence appliance based on the iSeries and DB2 Web Query.

Despite its success in terms of attendance, the conference's reduced rates put its purpose of funding OCEAN's monthly speaker expenses in doubt, and organizers are hoping that 2010 comes through with the economic turnaround climate that conference organizers will need to make the extraordinary effort of holding one of these conferences an economically viable undertaking.

More than 260 people attended the OCEAN User Group Technical Conference this week, a significant increase in attendance over last year and the second highest on record, a welcome infusion of energy into the southern California IBM i community.

More than 30 vendors participated, and many came from across the country to set up small booths at the show that focused on modernization and the need for users to keep their skills up to date with changing technology.

Consultant Bob Tipton's lunchtime keynote, "Keeping the Edge through Innovation," struck a chord with users who also flocked to presentations by Bob Cozzi, Scott Klement, and Jeff Olen on Web development, integration, and PHP as the means to achieve future of modernization techniques on the i platform.

"People couldn't say enough nice things about the show, and the (OCEAN) board is positively ecstatic about the results," said Bob Langieri, OCEAN president. "Every vendor I spoke with said it is one of the best shows they have been to so far."

OCEAN board members knew they were facing a tough year when reports from other shows, including COMMON, showed attendance was way down, typically by about 40 percent. The board rolled the dice and decided to drastically reduce the price to attendees: $120, which covered not only a slate of 35 sessions with some top-name speakers, but a hot lunch at the Hyatt Regency, Irvine.

Vendor support was sterling, and there were only two unsold table-tops by the time the show opened early Monday, July 20, including the traditional book store sponsored by MC Press. A reception Sunday night drew about 50 speakers and vendors who networked for hours before moving on to another get-together hosted by S4i.

Langieri noted that, while there are some 4,000 IBM i affiliated users in the southern California area, fewer than 10 percent decided to invest in learning new skills by attending the cutting edge sessions at the conference. "Some people get it, and others don't," said Langieri who has been a longtime proponent of learning new skills as a way to maintain your relevancy to employers in a tight job market.

Past President Carole Comeau noted the conference's "extremely upbeat" tone and the fact that some people paid their own way or took a vacation day from work if their employers were unwilling, or unable, to pay for their registrations. One company, however, decided to send five people to the conference, she said, because the department's supervisor recognized the incredible educational value it represented given the reduced price.

Users did have fun along with learning some new tricks, and a few lucky ones walked away with a netbook, iPods, and a home theater system after the conference's end-of-day drawing. One fortunate prize winner will receive a $1,000 worth of training from Zend.

While IBM sent six people to the show as speakers, there were few high-level executives present to make any announcements on leak news of future developments. Last year IBM's Jeff Howard and George Farr kept the crowd enthralled with discussions of Power Systems marketing and new pricing for WDSc.

"We like to alternate years between IBM keynoters and independents like Bob Tipton," said Margaret Matthews, OCEAN board member responsible for setting up the stable of speakers. "People love Bob Tipton, who was outstanding and got nothing but positive reviews," said Matthews. "People felt his talk really applied to them."

For the most part, the speakers from IBM presented on AIX topics, but the conference was attended mostly by the loyal i community, and the Board has yet to find a way to attract the UNIX/AIX crowd who live and work in the region. Doug Mack, product marketing manager for Power Systems and DB2 Web Query spoke on that product and sat on a panel hosted by Key Information Systems and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising dealing with the Smart i business intelligence appliance based on the iSeries and DB2 Web Query.

Despite its success in terms of attendance, the conference's reduced rates put its purpose of funding OCEAN's monthly speaker expenses in doubt, and organizers are hoping that 2010 comes through with the economic turnaround climate that conference organizers will need to make the extraordinary effort of holding one of these conferences an economically viable undertaking.

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