It’s just my opinion, but I think the days of the single discipline user group conference are numbered…
The big company flagship conferences will still happen, as they are more about hype and marketing, but I’m not sure what the future holds for regular user groups that want to stay with a single focus.
I don’t know many people who work on a single technology anymore. I certainly don’t know many people who would be allowed to go to a separate conference per technology they work on. That means they need to pick a subset of events, or not get involved. Either way they are being sold short.
I’m starting to think multi-discipline events like Riga Dev Days make a lot more sense. Even Oracle have gone this route with the Oracle Code events, which are multi-discipline, with an Oracle spin of course. These types of events are not without their issues too, as there has to be a limit on the content for each discipline and there can be scheduling clashes, but I think it makes it a lot easier for people to cover their bases with less conference visits per year.
There are some really strong user groups out there, but for those that are struggling, I wonder if widening the net would help? This could affect the enthusiasm of some sponsors, but it may open new opportunities too.
What do you think?
Update: As per comments and twitter discussion, people have cited successful “single-discipline” conferences. There will always be winners and losers, and I think many of these probably do have quite a diverse range of material, with a common thread running through them. This is how I think of Oracle Code, a diverse collection of subjects loosely woven together by an Oracle thread.
If someone has hit upon a winning formula that is still specialist, I’m not suggesting they change what is currently working for them. For those that are struggling, maybe now is the time for something different?