How to Justify Your Attendance At International Spectrum 2019
Justifying your conference attendance to management can be challenging for some IT staff. Much discussion is focused on the legitimacy of attending conference and trade show programs. The reality is that conferences are among the most cost effective methods of obtaining education and information, and in establishing a network.
Why attend conference and trade show events?
Conference sessions allow you to:
- Learn first hand from industry experts that have successfully implemented technology solutions
- Keep up to date on new and emerging technologies
- Take the opportunity to create a professional network
- Create talking points to communicate more effectively with vendors
- Get immediate answers and solutions to issues within your organization
- Discover new products that can decrease expense and increase revenue
Trade Show / Exhibition Events allow you to:
- See the latest in technology
- Hear new product announcements
- Visit all of your vendors in one location
- Get answers directly from vendors on the exhibition floor
- Do some comparison shopping
- Seek solutions and find new technologies
- Talk directly to your MultiValue database provider to get answers to questions
- Talk with others who are using or considering a product or service you are researching
Who attends this conference?
Executives, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Executive and Senior Level Management, Owners, Consultants, Influencers, Technical Staff, Implementers, Sales, Operations and Production, Industry Leaders, and Vendors.
Why should you attend?
- To justify the cost you need to understand the purpose of your attendance. Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish:
- Is there a current issue at your company for which you are looking for a solution?
- Are there any developing technologies you feel would benefit your company?
- Are there issues you would like to talk to your vendors about?
- Can you find one idea that will increase revenue and/or decrease costs?
- Is your company looking at implementing new technology?
- Would you benefit from expanding your personal and professional network?
- Does your company need to invest in your business system to gain or maintain their competitive edge?
Presenting to Your Management
The first and foremost communication should be your company's standard request form or a formal memo directed to your manager requesting attendance and why. Be sure to include the ROI and cost savings for attending (see below for some examples.) A sample of a memo requesting attendance can be found at www.intl-spectrum.com/s1006. Schedule a follow-up meeting with your boss to discuss the request.
In your memo and follow-up meeting focus on how attending the conference is relevant to your company and/or your team' goals and future projects. Here are some talking points to help you make a case for attending:
- International Spectrum has been hosting this conference for over 37 years and it is regarded by the industry as "the premier MultiValue Educational event."
- I am going to look for a solution for "this" problem.
- I believe "this new technology" could benefit the company and I would like to learn more about it.
- I plan on meeting with "x" vendors to discuss these issues.
- I am going to talk with several companies about "x" technology we are looking at.
- Ask how to make it happen and get the ball rolling:
- Do I get corporate travel involved?
- Do I need to have dollars in the budget right now? Is there money in another departmental budget that is unused?
- What are some of the things that I should look for while attending?
- Is there a branch office in the area that I can visit?
- If you are serious about purchasing "x" software can a vendor schedule an on-site visit to demo or meet with current users?
It is only natural for an administrator to ask, "How can we justify spending money to participate in a conference when we are facing budget reductions?" The answer lies in the value of the conference's content and the focused interaction it provides. Sometimes learning one new piece of information or gaining better understanding about only one process can justify the entire cost of attending International Spectrum. And making one professional contact can be worth much more.
As companies decrease training budgets, they still require IT to do more with less. As companies increasingly turn to technology to compensate for a lack of employees, the needs for up-to-date solutions and products become more important and cheaper to implement. Since International Spectrum brings all the tools providers under one roof, you save time and money on research by seeing everything in one place.
The cost of attending this conference is often less than the cost of attending classes at other training sites or online. By offering workshops, peer-to-peer discussions, and varied IT and Enterprise presentations, International Spectrum 2019 offers you the knowledge of multiple trainers, professionals, and companies that are focused on the use of different techniques, methodologies, and products designed to increase your productivity and ability to meet the challenges your company or organization faces.
The Conference Costs:
Registration by February 27th 1095.00
Hotel $200.00 Per Night x 4 nights (plus taxes)
Meals $80.00 per day x 4 days
Travel: $450.00 Round trip
Total (approximate): $2665.00
Your Return on Investment
To help you create your ROI statement, I've compiled a few items and assigned values to them. Use these as a starting point, and feel free to modify the information as you see fit.
37 Hours x $80.00 per hour = $2960 Per product or tool
How much time would you spend research all the available products, which companies have them, how they work, their costs, and see demos? For example, if you were researching reporting tools, how much time would it take to find all the available products, and setup times to see demos. You could spend a good day to day and a half just looking for the available products and scheduling demos.
The demo itself might take two hours. If you assume you will also lose 30 minutes before the demo getting prepared and then another 30 minutes after the demo writing up your notes about the demo and your impressions, that is three hours per product.
You also have the research on implementation which could take three or four days per product just to understand how you would integrate the new product into your existing systems.
Now this is just for one product or tool. If you are planning to look at all the different tools and their competitors, then multiply this by the number of vendors available.
12 Hours x $100-120.00 per hour = $1200.00
Many of International Spectrums speakers are industry experts and work as professional consultants. They are presenting at the conferences to help you understand new technologies and how best to implement them without costing your company tons of money. If you schedule time with speakers after sessions, you can get more in-depth answers to your questions.
You can easily spend three hours a day with one or more of the speakers. With a normal consultant's fee at over $100 an hour, you can recoup most, if not all, of your conference expenses.
Training and/or Continuing Education Hours:
24 Hours x $80.00 = $1920
With four days running five tracks of educational sessions and workshops, you could spend a minimum of 24 hours or more in industry training, not to mention product-specific training.
Many of the sessions at International Spectrum Conference cost well over $500 apiece as webinars. With the advantage of face to face time with the speakers and presenters, you are getting the benefit of onsite training, which can normally cost over $1200 a day.
Don't invest in Software, lose business:
You have likely already seen this with your existing system, or will see it soon. If you don't invest in your existing enterprise systems, you will start losing business. Or you will start hearing rumblings of "you have got to move off this old technology", when there is nothing wrong with your advanced complex business system except that those using the system—both management and staff—want different user interfaces, nicer reporting options, and web connectivity.
You have to invest in training and software exploration now, so that in the future, even just two to three years from now, you know what your options are. Look closely at what has happened to Wall Street in the last few months. There are many companies that didn't move fast enough to keep up with the changes. They are no longer in business. If your company doesn't keep up, then it will cost them more in the long run or they will start to loose business and money just because they chose to stay in the same place.
Professional networking is one those items that is hard to quantify. User groups and online forums have taken over some of this, but sometimes you can be more productive just meeting and talking to people in person. You may find someone in your vertical market place that has the same problem, or has already solved the problem you have, that you would not find anywhere else.
Attendees for the International Spectrum Conference come from many different vertical marketplaces: housing, retail, banking, manufacturing, distribution, trucking, and the list goes on and on.
Some attendees find they learn a great deal from talking to one another because they are talking to someone that has already solved the problem versus someone who will help you solve the problem. If you have to place a value on this, then I would look at it as consulting time.
Make the Most of Your Conference Attendance
When discussing your attendance with your manager, be sure to share how you will make the most of your conference attendance. Here are a few things you can do to get the most out of the conference:
Before the Conference:
- Match a list of session topics to specific challenges your business faces.
- Compare the cost of an outside or on-site consultant versus the conference fee.
- Develop a complete cost justification using the information provided in "Why Attend" page on the International Spectrum web site.
During the Conference
- Network with MultiValue professionals and users to understand how to solve specific business challenges.
- Attend training sessions and workshops.
- Request one-on-one consulting with the speakers, product experts, executives and account managers to discuss your needs.
After the Conference
- Create action reports with detailed content, form execution teams, take the necessary action and follow up. See the trip report template on the International Spectrum web site.
- Train others and give a presentation to co-workers on what you learned.
- Implement at least one performance change you've learned.
- Document savings associated with what you learned for next year.
The International Spectrum 2019 Conference is one of the best places to get MultiValue education and product information. Just by reviewing the dollars spent versus the dollars saved, how can you pass it up?