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Don’t look behind the Event Wizards curtain

In January, I wrote about “[Conference Planning | /people/jim.spath/blog/2008/01/12/conference-planning]”, a behind-the-scenes look at building a track with abstracts that were submitted in 2007.  With the speed of change thee days, here are a few ways a conference organizer tries to cope.

We learned over the years to pick alternates, and to make the succession rules clear.  Conference attendees want to hear dynamic speakers, and that is challenging to judge from a 100-word abstract submission. Poor spelling or grammar might give a clue, but should not be used to disqualify the content if the subject is intriguing. On the other hand, a highly polished paragraph strewn with buzzwords could lead to a presentation I think of as “content-lite”.  It’s disheartening to hear audience members afterwards say “oh, it was just marketing” when the intent was to impart technical details.

Circumstances change: I lost one speaker because he started working for SAP.  His new manager won’t let him travel to Orlando to talk about his former life.  Other speakers have declined for reasons including “I didn’t submit that, someone did it for me”, or “that project didn’t happen as planned” or “I am unable to travel due to pregnant wife” and finally, “I am unable to travel.” With the current US economic woes, that is starting to affect planning.  I spoke in New Orleans in late October 2001, and it was sparse.

Several abstracts were edited by possibly-well-meaning marketing droids who replaced, for example, my title of “SAP R/3” with “SAP Netweaver”.  Sorry folks, we are still using the old terms because we are still using the old product.  We haven’t upgraded, so I believe that would be false advertising to say I’m talking about a version I am not using.

The times for sessions shifted a bit since the original schedule, so I need to make sure I’m using a current version.  Otherwise, I’m going to be having people show up 15 minutes after sessions start. And instead of the traditonal first-thing-in-the-morning keynote, the general sessions occur during the day.  It will be challenging for those speaking right before or right after, since the huge rooms are usually a good distance from the main track rooms. 

For the last couple years, we’ve put together a sneak preview webcast.  While not getting a huge audience, it’s a chance for us volunteers to check that the sessions we planned are in the Agenda Builder ,  that the Advance Program isn’t too far from reality and that the session titles are clear.  

I was thanked by a fellow SAP Mentor, Harald Reiter , who gets a complimentary admission to Sapphire/ASUG08 as a speaker, for letting him in on this opportunity.  At this point, my agenda builder has his session #0603 on “SAP Interactive Forms Software by Adobe with Custom Features

at Bechtel Corporation,” and Richard Hirsch will present both at the

pre-conference event “Today’s Business Process Expert – What You Need

to Know” and in the EA track, session #1506 entitled “The Business

Process Expert Community Project: Project Diary of Your Average

Business Process Expert.”  Other highlights in the March 08 ASUG BITI newsletter .  I only have a few hours when I’d like to be in at least three places, so far! Wow, that made me think, this event is starting well before I expected.  It’s supposed to be happening in May and it’s only March.  Time to go check this out with the eventrack guru, Craig .

p.s. Craig has new, cool stuff in eventrack.  Grist for a later blog.

And, Marilyn spilled a few beans about Some of the BPX Stars Have Aligned. </p>

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    • @eventtrack now has a bookmarklet, when you are viewing the event you can find it located in the left sidebar – just drag it to your toolbar and if you are a registered user you can easily add items to the collective stream now. I just tried and your blog is there now.