The Search Conference Wars
November 24, 2010
I was in Washington, DC last week for the Mark Logic Government Summit. I estimated that there were between 450 and 550 people at the Tyson’s Corner-area event.
I learned from a colleague at a conference across town that there were 1,200 people at the Information Today multi-part search, knowledge management, and digital everything conference at the Renaissance Center in the District of Columbia.
Sys-Con’s “Endeca Government Summit: Important Context on a Key Mission Area” reported:
The Endeca Government Summit was yesterday. The agenda included some fantastic presentations from customers who have used Endeca to address issues requiring incredible scale (billions of records) and incredible scope (including the need to discover meaning in data in milliseconds) and human-focused interfaces (including, in every solution I saw, an ability to enable humans to interact with data in ways that search never enables).
I heard that there were “hundreds” at the Endeca event.
I don’t doubt that the encomia in the Sys-Con write up is accurate. The Mark Logic Conference was excellent, but I was a captive participant and anything in which I get involved looks great from my vantage point. I think Mark Logic’s speaker line up from the military was more timely than Endeca’s but that’s my opinion.
The Information Today event yielded little feedback, and I assume that like its other conferences, the Information Today event was like previous Information Today events.
My views on these competing events are as follows:
- Vendors definitely like to target November for conferences
- Stacking up search and content processing conferences at about the same time is like the medieval practice of grouping shoe makers on the same street
- There must be a heck of a lot of people in Washington, DC with an unquenched thirst for information about finding information.
What’s this tell me?
I think there will be more piling on. An anchor conference—say, for instance, the Information Today road shows with their predictable line up of topics and speakers—pulls attention to a window of time. Then the savvy vendors target a conference at the same time, offering possibly more compelling programs. The result is a conference competition.
My view is that the magnet conference is carrying much of the marketing cost burden. Once the anchor event publicizes what it is doing, it becomes somewhat easier for other organizers to offer another venue to customers and prospects.
What happens when the magnet loses some of its pulling power? Interesting question. For now, the conference wars are minor skirmishes in the fight for the hearts and minds of information access. What’s ahead? Interesting question.
Stephen E Arnold, November 24, 2010