I spoke at the 2016 Interop Conference. The event is all about computer IT and networks. Interop ran May 2 through May 6 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
I’ve been to many Interop events over the past 10 years. The thing I noticed most this year was that Interop attendance has declined every year over the past five or so years. Now, to be sure, Interop is still a pretty big event. I estimate there were perhaps 4,000 to 5,000 people there. But attendance was less than in 2015 which was less than in 2014, and so on.
Here are three possible reasons for the attendance decline. IT is becoming more mature and the field is just more well known, so there’s less urgency to stay current at events like Interop. IT is becoming a commodity and there is consolidation to a few big players such as Cisco for hardware and Microsoft for software, and so vendor-specific conferences are getting bigger. IT is becoming more specialized (security, management, Big Data, etc.) and smaller more specialized conferences are somewhat replacing the large, general purpose Interop.
My talk was “Understanding Business Intelligence with Neural Networks”. I explained exactly what neural networks are, how they work, and described various strategies for implementing neural networks in an IT environment.
I enjoyed Interop 2016, learned a lot, and felt it was a good use of my time. I like the idea of big, vendor-neutral conferences that cover a lot of topics. Specialized and vendor-specific conferences may be more efficient for transferring knowledge but generalized conferences like Interop provide more opportunities for unexpected value via ad hoc conversations.