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Free Markets and IoT Conferences I

In my role, you pay attention to conferences. Ideally, you’d go to them all and sift through the repetition to get interesting golden nuggets to write about. But, especially outside Silicon Valley, that means lots of travel, and you start to pick and choose.

As an actual practicing engineer, you (hopefully) have actual projects to work on, so traveling to conferences means trading off some productivity for learning useful things. Question is, how do you choose?

In particular, the IoT is blowing up huge. It’s the way you get attention or traction these days. And I have to admit, I’m part of the problem:

                Diligent PR person: “We have some news about [something] that we’d like to brief you on.”
Me: “Well, that’s actually not my area of coverage. I’m focusing more on IoT and related technologies these days.
Diligent PR person: “Oh, this totally has an IoT play.”

And you wonder why every press release mentions the IoT. OK, guilty as charged.

But when it comes to conferences, well, I can’t even keep track of all of the IoT conferences. Just in the Bay Area alone:

  • EE Live had a collocated IoT Summit earlier this month.
  • There was a “Markets of One” conferences in Palo Alto (although that’s more for designers, but it’s related) a few days ago.
  • There’s the Internet of Things Developer’s conference collocated with the Multicore Developers Conference in May.
  • Today I just saw that Internet of Things World is happening in Palo Alto in June

All presumably put on by different organizations. And that’s just within, what, three months? All in the same geographic area? Heck, there are probably others I’m unaware of.

You wonder, “Does the world need that many IoT conferences?” But then again, it appears we have a free market at work here. The world may not need this many, but markets aren’t about what the world needs. Presumably, each of these tries to attract the most attendance with the best presentations and the catchiest hooks and the most effective marketing. Never mind that there are many faces you’ll see presenting at multiple conferences, nullifying some of the differentiation.

I’ll be curious to see how many of these there are next year. I sense a bit of IoT fatigue – not that the IoT will necessarily go the way of push technology, but that we’re getting used to the idea of the IoT, so it’s not going to be a hook for much longer.

But my final question is, with this many conferences on the same topic, how do you pick and choose which ones to go to? Do you line them all up and compare programs? Is it pure convenience on timing? Is it the reputation of the organization putting on the show?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.

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