Midmarket IT folks: Belles of the conference circuit

Want a few free trips to lovely places such as Vegas, Orlando and other conference hot spots? Work as an IT guy for a midmarket company.

Want a few free trips to lovely places such as Vegas, Orlando and other conference hot spots? Work as an IT guy for a midmarket company.

That's one takeaway from Orlando where the Vision Events Midsize Enterprise Summit conference happened to be held in the hotel where I was staying.

The conference had your usual trappings: Virtualization talks, VOIP primers and vendors galore. What I found odd: Attendees were flown in and put up in some nice digs just so they could be pitched by vendors. Apparently, midmarket folks are real hotties on the conference scene.

One IT guy was at his third midmarket conference this year. Another had two under his belt. All paid. All fun. All flown in to get pitched some technical mumbo jumbo. "Virtualization and all of this stuff I can't keep up with," he says. The names of folks are protected so they can continue to get these junkets.

A few takeaways from these midmarket belles of the ball:

  • None of them thought that large vendors could meet their needs;
  • Some likened the vendor pitches to being sold condos in Florida;
  • They'll keep playing along because trips to Orlando are fun;
  • But every once in a while there's something useful. One IT manager said ShoreTel was worth the trip.

The Midsize Enterprise Summit had been a Gartner conference, but the business was sold to Vision Events, which is owned by United Business Media. Under the Vision Events model no attendees pay and must qualify to attend the event. The catch: There are prescheduled meetings between vendors and chosen ones.

In other words, it's part dating game, part conference. But if you're a midmarket IT manager with a limited travel budget it's probably worth the PowerPoint fatigue.