Thoughts about PLM Conferences

Thoughts about PLM Conferences

Last week I attended PLM Innovation Americas 2012 conference in Atlanta. I already published few posts inspired by the conference – PLM Innovation and 5 PLM Trends and PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015? Few facts about the conference itself: about 250 attendees, reasonable sized for large presentation and small roundtables. Exhibition floor was presented by all PLM vendors. This is one of very few vendor-independent PLM conferences. Actually, I know only one more – PLM Roadmap.  I’ve been reading blogs and twitter stream from the last PLM Innovation. The following press release caught my attention – PLM Road Map To Be Presented with PLM Innovation Americas 2013.

CIMdata, Inc., the leading global PLM strategic management consulting and research firm, announces that it will be co-locating its PLM Road Map conference in conjunction with MarketKey’s PLM Innovation conference in 2013, the date to be announced. The name of the combined event will be Product Innovation Featuring the PLM Road Map. Both organizations will participate in planning and program development for these events. CIMdata brings its extensive PLM knowledge and 20 years of PLM Road Map experience to bear. MarketKey provides its marketing and event organization skills to the combined effort.

It made me think why PLM events became so rare and what can make non-vendor event successful and popular. In the world of the web, blogs, youtube and social media, you need to provide something very special to drive people to get on board of airplanes and travel across the country to attend the conference for few days. I found only one reason to come – to listen to customer stories and speak to customers live.This unique opportunity is priceless and can justify the time and money you need to spend.

Actually, I found a confirmation of my idea reading Michael Fauscette blog post Recap of Oracle Open World 2012. Michael is comparing Oracle Open World and user conference Dreamforce by analyzing how customers were presenting during the conference. Here is an interesting passage:

Having just attended’s Dreamforce conference two weeks before OpenWorld it’s hard not to compare the two mega-conferences. Both vendors put on a great show, but there were some differences. For me the thing that Salesforce did right, and I think is clearly a best practice in vendor conferences, was weaving powerful customer stories, told by executive from those customers, all through every keynote and discussion. In other words Salesforce lets its customers tell much of its story. This is simply not true of Oracle. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Oracle customer stories involved, many in the form of videos, but the approach is just different. Oracle prefers to tightly control the message and have its executives present the information, backed up mostly by customer videos. It’s just not as compelling to me, and its a shame because there are some great customer stories to tell. 

What is my conclusion? In our online world, there is a single reason to come and attend the conference – to connect and speak to customers. In this context,  vendor-independent events are more appealing. During these events, customer can speak about real customer experience without obligation to promote a specific vendor. These are speeches that help you to learn a lot about the product, implementations and industry practices. Unfortunately, there are not so many PLM vendor-independent events. I’m looking forward to seeing more PLM events in 2013. Vendors should take a note to promote customer presentations during the events. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of [fotographic1980] /


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