I’ve just returned from another post-RMOUG conference mountain trip and happy to say that another RMOUG Training Days conference has successfully completed. It’s a massive undertaking that takes an incredible amount of time from our board of directors, volunteers and Team YCC, our conference support company. In the end, it’s all worth it and no one regrets the loss in personal life or family time to put on the largest Oracle regional user conference in the US.
As my fourth year as conference director completes, I can look back and see how the conference has changed, how we’ve successfully taken on intriguing challenges and opportunities for improvement.
Highlights This Year
The OWL, sponsored by Oracle Technology Network. Laura Ramsey and her folks did a great job with the Hands on Labs and events in the huge area designated behind the exhibitor area. She had a daily schedule that was published in our mobile app and the daily highlights, which kept our attendees abreast of what was going on in the area each day.
Keynote from Carlos Sierra and Mauro Pagano. These gentlemen have built and supported the tools that provide the deep and detailed answers that many of us in the performance arena live for. They are also incredible people and to have them share with us what drove them to build the products, the stories behind initiatives and enhancements to where we are today was really enjoyable to listen to. It was technical, it was personable and we enjoyed sharing it with them.
Over 100 technical sessions from the best of the best in Oracle, MySQL, OBIEE, APEX, ADF and others! We really are very lucky here at RMOUG. We get the best speakers in the Oracle realm- Oracle ACEs, ACE Directors, Oracle’s technical specialists and new up and coming. They all want to come to Denver each February to speak to Training Days attendees.
Lunches with ACEs. This has been the third year we’ve put this on. It’s an incredible opportunity to sit down with your Database God and get close up and discuss your technical topic of obsession. I even got back into the game, sitting in on Ray Smith’s table, (he wasn’t able to attend, my fault, we forgot to take down his table!) and we sat and discussed Enterprise Manager features for an hour.
Women in Technology Round Table. This went really, really well this year. I kept the slides to a minimum and the Denver area panel did a great job discussing topics that are at the front of everyone’s minds on how to get women ahead in technology and our children’s education more focused towards tech careers.
Now the Challenge
We are going through the same challenge as any user group is going through in the US. Without the members and attendees who made the conference fantastic this year, RMOUG, a not-for-profit organization, couldn’t put on a conference next year. Here in Denver, many of our membership aren’t aware of the impressive conference they have for the incredible low cost. Even though the early numbers are showing we had 40% new attendees, (which means my phenomenal team really did succeed in taking on this challenge) we were still down from our goals because many of our older membership didn’t attend this year’s conference.
I network with a number of user groups and user group boards. I hear the same questions-
How do we find new attendees?
How do we grow our membership?
Our membership appears to be aging out. How do we attract younger members?
These are the same challenges Training Days is going through and I often have discussions surrounding how to reach new demographics and attendance. At the same time, its common to have a conversation with someone you do expect to attend that says, “I won’t be at Training Days this year…”
Our previous attendees have become accustomed that the conference will always be there the next year. The effort that it’s taken to keep this conference active and successful is mind-blowing when I look review the data. We make this transparent for a reason, but at this time, I think it’s important to know how our investment looks to those outside of Denver and RMOUG.
Our attendees aren’t aware that some of the top database consultant companies around the US are flying in their employees to attend RMOUG Training Days. Our conference is 1/2 the length of Oracle Open World, KSCOPE and Collaborate, the three larger conferences in the US. At the same time, for only 1/2 the length, it’s only a 1/5th of the cost and you get 10 tracks and 2 1/2 days of pure technical content.
The networking opportunities with the biggest companies in the US, along with your local peers is priceless!
As for RMOUG’s board and the Training Days committee? We’ll keep introducing Training Days to new potential attendees and hope that the missing members will return to this impressive and incredible conference. We’ll keep spreading the word to companies about how inexpensive and valuable the training is at Training Days in hopes the next generation of DBAs, Developers and Database specialists have this incredible opportunity to better themselves and their career.
If we kept this information so transparent, you, as a member or attendee of RMOUG Training Days wasn’t aware of it, start thinking of our Oracle regional user group as our community and that by contributing by attending just has the additional benefit of helping out our own career! Now I’m going to enjoy a few weeks off before the planning starts again for next year!