The Data Warrior Kent Graziano and DataRebels Owner, Cindi Meyersohn, are back for another conversation! Today, the topic of discussion is in-person conferences – in an ever-increasing virtual world, is there a benefit to traveling to be in-person?
Kent: Hey there Cindi, so we’re here talking about the benefits of in-person conferences. I’m going to just come out and state the obvious, that YES, being at events in-person is much more enjoyable and beneficial in general. The interactions with speakers live, the chance to ask questions and network, and the ability to share your thoughts with industry leaders – the value of those things should not be underestimated. We’ll circle back around to general discussion, but full disclosure, we’re talking specifically about one conference that’s coming up: the WWDVC 2023.
Cindi: Right Kent, it’s going to be the first week of May, so it’s coming up quickly! And DataVaultAlliance has a huge line up of who’s who in data analytics:
- The father of data warehousing, Bill Inmon
- Inventor of Data Vault, Dan Linstedt
- The author of “An Introduction to Database Systems”, world-renowned specialist in relational database theory, CJ Date.
Kent: Don’t forget, we also have Scott Ambler and Jennifer Strirrup both talking about Disciplined Agile Delivery. And unlike in years past, this year the sessions aren’t only focused on Data Vault solutions, but we’re talking about how to be successful with your entire data analytics ecosystem.
Cindi: That’s right, that’s a big focus of the Premium Business Monday Program that’s happening this year – we’ve got Paola Saibene presenting on business strategy for digital initiatives on Monday and again in the technical track on Wednesday about maximizing opportunities for digital innovation with Data Vault and Data Fabric, which is a hot topic these days. And with the addition of this Business Monday Program and other keynotes that are outside the realm of Data Vault, there really is something for everyone this year.
Kent: I agree! This conference is really going to be something special. I’d like to move on to our main question – what is the value of an in-person event? The big one is having the opportunity to interact with industry experts and thought leaders – and that doesn’t mean just sitting passively in the audience listening to the presentation. That means being able to ask questions, see the personal interactions between panelists during their sessions, as well as ask questions of the panelists and get multiple perspectives. It’s a great chance to get help dealing with whatever it is you’re struggling with in your job trying to implement analytics systems.
Something I’ve learned over the years and I’m sure you’ve realized too, is that as humans, we work well in community with others, and doing that virtually has its limits. Being able to again be in person allows you to build some of those personal connections with other folks in the community who are like-minded and are traveling the same road you’re traveling. Maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ve already come up with solutions and they have some experience that you may not yet have. Being in person and having a chance to have organic discussion gives you a different perspective and allows you to accelerate your learning. Getting the chance to chat with speakers and others in the community has been more helpful to me than any general conference session ever has been.
Cindi: Absolutely. Being in-person with a group of like-minded folks allows for a vulnerability – they’re more likely to share what’s worked and what hasn’t, and that can really help someone learn before they waste a lot of time going down a path that won’t be efficient or successful. It’s a much different experience than attending a webinar on Zoom. You’re so much more likely to get real help and insight on your very real challenges, in the moment. Same goes for the vendors attending these conferences. The ability to chat with them about their products in-person saves so much time, and you’re able to discern much more quickly if their tool will be a good solution.
Kent: Which of course, time is so important today. I’d say without question, in the modern era where we are all being challenged to deliver more at scale and faster; the more information you can have the better. One of the best ways to get the most information in the fastest amount of time is to attend an in-person event rather than being virtual, where you constantly have the potential of being distracted by other things that come up in the office or at home. This goes especially for the WWDVC, because we have a single-track running, so it’s very focused. You never have to decide between session A or session B when in fact you need the information from both.
Cindi: Yes, circling back around to WWDVC 2023. That single track is so beneficial. You get more consistent engagement with your colleagues, and then get a chance to really discuss what you heard, rather than try to sum it up for each other – the single track really ensures that everyone gets the main message, which is of course, ideal.
Kent: Right. And then your team can move to an in-depth analysis of how this information helps YOUR team, at a much faster rate.
Cindi: I think that’s a good point. The other thing that I think WWDVC offers is the fact that the speakers are intermixed throughout the week with the audience. If you want to chat with a speaker, you could find them and say, “Hey, you know we’ve been thinking about this for a few days and, can you clarify that?” or, “Did you consider this?” You can go back and ask questions, which is huge.
Kent: Yeah, I would say that WWDVC is truly different from most big industry conferences in a few ways. For one, at the big industry conferences, the keynote speaker gets up on stage with all the fanfare, does the talk and usually within an hour, they’re gone and you’re there for another three days. On the other hand, speakers at WWDVC tend to stay the entire week. There’s an advantage of the location in Stowe, Vermont – it’s a beautiful location, very relaxing, and the speakers like to take advantage of the fact that this event gets them out of the giant conference halls and big cities. WWDVC gives them a relaxing week with an eager audience – it’s a totally different environment.
Cindi: It is, it’s more of an academic environment rather than one focused on hype and sales. You won’t find forced sales pitches at the WWDVC. Instead, you really get a chance to interact with the tech on your own terms.
Kent: True. While there are set opportunities to meet with vendors, all of that is attendee-led. You won’t ever find yourself trapped in a canned sales pitch, but you can begin to build a relationship with a vendor, see their tools, and really get into discussion about whether the tool is going to be a good route for your business. Like I said, the environment is totally different. WWDVC is about solutions and innovations, with the more relaxed experience of an academic conference. Unlike academic conferences, we still we get a lot of practical advice and real-world experience, plus thought leaders suggesting where the industry is heading next.
Cindi: That’s one of the things I really love about it. The unique environment of the WWDVC has really helped to foster a community over the years. The conference is always great, full of information, but what brings people back year after year is the community and the camaraderie. It’s become sort of like a (non-dysfunctional) family reunion with a family that just keeps growing bigger and better!
Kent: I think after our last couple of years of pandemic-induced social isolation, it’s even more important for us to get together in-person. Companies are becoming more virtual in nature, so you may not see your colleagues day to day anymore. If you’re going to work from home for the rest of your career, then it is crucial that you start getting out to conferences occasionally, to help build relationships with folks in your industry, human to human.
Cindi: And with that I think we’ve come full circle Kent. As always, a pleasure chatting with you. I think we’ve really hit on some big points about the value of in-person conferences, and especially why the WWDVC 2023 is one of the best there is. I’ll see you there Kent!
The WWDVC 2023 begins on April 30, 2023 and runs through the first week of May. The conference, held annually in Stowe, Vermont, USA, is THE place to talk all things Data Vault. Discounted registration is available using the promo code: DRContest15, or simply click on this link to automatically have the discount applied: https://bit.ly/3K0zBzm. Discounted room rates at the conference location are available through April 1 using this link: https://bit.ly/3LHk0pv. To learn more, visit https://www.wwdvc.com