IBM’s Information on Demand 2013 Conference is less than a month away, and since I’ve been to this conference more times than I can remember (this will be Ember’s first IOD), she has asked me to write up something to help orient you to the conference and get the most out of it.
- Try to build a rough plan for your days before you get to Las Vegas. Unlike IDUG conferences, IOD has over 900 sessions during the conference, so you’ll want to find out what sessions you must see instead of trying to wing it using the session guide you’ll get when you check in to get your badge.
IBM provides an Agenda Builder that lets you see what sessions are available, and build a schedule. You can even download the agenda you build into your calendar (presumably so you can sync it to your phone). Unfortunately, you still can’t subscribe to the agenda you so that changes you make on the Agenda Builder automatically sync to your calendar/phone.
- You will walk a lot. I’ve heard that some people have walked upwards of 10 miles per day (depending on what hotel you stay in). Last year, I walked 6-7 miles per day, and I was staying at Mandalay Bay – the closest hotel to the conference center.
- Wear comfortable shoes. This goes along with the last item, but even though Las Vegas may be the only place where it’s de rigueur to wear 4” stilettos everywhere, save them for when you go out on the town at night.
The sessions with very popular speakers (e.g., Melanie Stopfer, Matt Huras or Tim Vincent) are held in large rooms, but they will fill up. Try to arrive 5-8 minutes before the session starts to make sure that you can get a good seat. The room handlers will stop people from massing at the back of the room, so you could be shut out of the session if you are late.
Try going to one of the Drop in Labs. These are hands on sessions where you can spend 2-3 hours working with a specific technical features of DB2 like BLU, using HADR with TSA or the pureData for Transactions system. IBM provides the computers and an excellent guide to work through the feature.
It may be hard to miss one or two sessions in order to do a hands on lab, but my experience is that they are well worth the time.
The temperatures in the conference rooms vary from there’s-too-many-people-stuffed-in-this-small-room to downright arctic, so dress for warm weather, but bring a light jacket or sweater with you to put on in those rooms that are extra cold.
If you recognize someone – either from their name or profile picture – do make sure you introduce yourself. A huge part of going to conferences is networking with your peers, and most people are very friendly and happy to chat.
Familiarize yourself with Mandalay Bay, so you can find your way through the casino maze to the conference center and various meeting points. The hotel publishes a very nice 3-D map of the property (PDF) that may be able to help you orient yourself.
Most of the DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows session are held in the North Convention Center. When you are walking in from the hotel, use either the escalators right next to the entrance to the Events Center or the staircase across from Border Grill to get down to the North Convention Center.
The room layout in the convention center is most certainly not intuitive – I have been at many, many conferences at Mandalay Bay, but I still spend the first day or two trying to get my bearings.
The rooms are not laid out in alphabetical order – don’t expect “Islander F” to be next to “Islander E” (“Islander I” is next to “Islander E”).
Ask for directions – there are conference bouncers dressed in bright green shirts who can help direct you to the ever-elusive “South Pacific E”!
Many people like to skip the general keynote sessions – they are first thing in the morning, and it can be hard to get up that early. However, the guest keynote (on Wednesday morning) has typically been very good – it’s definitely worth getting up for. In the past, IBM has had amazing speakers like Malcolm Gladwell, Atul Gawande, and Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland As.
This year’s speaker is
Mark CubanSerena Williams, one of the best professional tennis players ever (she is currently ranked #1, and she has been a professional for nearly 20 years)! I am definitely looking forward to hear what she will have to say and see how it ties into the theme of the conference.
IBM puts RFID tags on the back of everyone’s badge, so if you want to keep your IBM Rep from having blackmail material for your boss (“We know you weren’t in any sessions on Tuesday or Wednesday!” – just kidding), pull the tag off of your badge and toss it.
Better yet, stick the tag in someone else’s conference bag as a kind of digital “Kick Me” prank.
Make sure you get out of the conference center and enjoy some of what Las Vegas has to offer. Las Vegas is polarizing – some people love it, and others hate it. But if you’re going to be there, you might as well have some fun. Eat at one of great restaurants, try your luck at the Craps tables (you may find some of the Toronto folks there!), or go totally crazy and ride the roller coaster on top of The Stratosphere.
Remember the mantra: “What happens in Vegas gets posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram”
Whatever you do, don’t let someone try to get you to join their wolf pack.
Want more IOD Tips?
In my podcast, The Whole Package Cache, Fred Sobotka and I just published an episode called “IOD Hacks”. We have a great discussion with Crysta Anderson, IBM’s Social Business Manager for Information Management about some of the social networking opportunities IBM is arranging for IOD, as well as even more Pro Tips for making sure your conference is a success. Check it out!
I’m looking forward to seeing you at IOD!
– Ian Bjorhovde (@idbjorh)
Ian Bjorhovde is the principal consultant for DataProxy System Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. He has worked in the IT industry for over 18 years and has spent the last 15 years as a consultant developing and supporting large DB2 LUW databases with clients in many different industries. He is an IBM Champion for Information Management, produces a DB2-focused podcast called The Whole Package Cache and has presented at RUG, IDUG and IBM conferences.