Nobody Cares about BPM… Or do They?

Scott Francis
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Ian Gotts says nobody seems to care about BPM – on the basis of attending a conference (unnamed) in the USA, that was sparsely attended.  He has a great picture of the room, nearly empty, that presumably he was speaking in.  Of course, that picture could be taken before everyone comes in to sit down – it might not be intended to be taken for a literal head-count.  But the point is clear:
I was keynote speaker at an event billed as ‘one of the USA’s most important BPM events’ – 500 attendees.  Gartner gets fewer 1,000 at their US BPM Summit. In contrast Dreamforce (image right), which is Salesforce’s PAID annual user event gets 25,000 delegates.
As I pointed out in a comment on his blog, this is a bit of apples and oranges.  I don’t believe any of Gartner’s conferences have 25,000 delegates.  They’re analyst-driven conferences that tend to appeal more to executives than rank and file users.  Gartner’s CRM conferences aren’t attended by 25,000 people either… On the other hand, IBM Impact was attended by north of 8000 people last year. Appian’s user conference had record attendance, as well.  IBM’s other conferences have similarly large numbers of attendees (I believe the IOD conference is even bigger than Impact, for example). Ian asks:
So what is it?  Perhaps BPM has been around too long and everyone knows about it, so they don’t need to attend conferences and measuring conference attendance is misleading. But the world has moved on with technology enabling fantastic advances in operational excellence, so surely there is a need for continued education. And similarly, CRM has been around 20 years or more yet Salesforce conference attendance is still climbing.
What is it?  It is vendor-focus rather than analyst focus.  As I commented in his blog, these are just different audiences.  The vendor conferences are more users as well as decision-makers.  Users don’t generally go to analyst conferences, however.  And if you’re going to your vendor’s conference- do you really need to go to one or two more analyst conferences?  Probably not. It isn’t that BPM is too broad, any more than CRM is too broad – it is just that vendor conferences are a bit more interesting than vendor-agnostic analyst conferences.  And hey, the vendors usually bring in better bands and entertainment! My experience is that BPM enthusiasm at conferences is running high – at software vendor conferences, that is – and so I find myself in disagreement with Ian on this one.  

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