Live from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference: The Conference Lifecycle

June 20, 2007 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Analyst biz, Enterprise 2.0, social software, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

As an analyst, I’ve generally been assigned to coverage areas with a full life cycle. By that, I mean they have exciting beginnings, a bump against reality, then settle down to a boring, mature, reasonable level. I’ve covered Java (Java 1.1 through J2EE), application servers (remember when you used to pay a real lot for those and they were highly differentiated?) and enterprise portals, all of which followed that curve. Sometimes I felt I really enjoyed myself more than the guys covering steady but consistent technologies like databases, but sometimes I envied them too for the consistency their posts in the technology wilderness had.

In that regard, the Enterprise 2.0 conference feels like deja vu all over again. It has that same feel I remember from technologies past. The supply side attendees at the conference (vendors, media, speakers and panelists, pundits) outnumbered the demand side (enterprise buyers). By my estimate, about 40% of the attendees are from enterprises in listen mode. My figures come from a set of unscientific badge checks and one session where enterprise attendees were asked to raise their hands. By my equally unscientific crowd counting techniques there were about 350 attendees in the audience for the Tuesday keynotes counting the main room, standees, and overflow room. During dull stretches in the presentations I found myself scanning the audience for other stats and found similar figures to other technology conferences I’ve been to (e.g., blazers: 20%, male:female ratio: 7:1, Gen Xers: 65%).

This is pretty standard for the early stages of a technology maturity curve. Over time I expect to see enterprises strongly outnumbering vendors/media. Then the technology gets boring enough and the conference gets renamed or merged with another conference and the cycle begins anew.

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