Analytics Conferences Gone Wild!

September 15, 2011
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As a result of the attention business analytics has received in recent years, we’re seeing a proliferation of conferences tied to analytics. It seems like everywhere one turns, one finds another analytics conference.

As a result of the attention business analytics has received in recent years, we’re seeing a proliferation of conferences tied to analytics. It seems like everywhere one turns, one finds another analytics conference. In addition to totally new shows, there are also some conferences that weren’t historically focused on business analytics that are now shifting a large part of their focus to the topic. Shows traditionally focused on tools now have tracks or completely separate events that focus on the application of analytics. Have analytics conferences gone wild?

Looking back more than a few years, there weren’t many conferences focused on analytics, especially not from a business perspective. There were conferences that focused on tools, such as those hosted by SAS and SPSS. There were a few conferences focused on analytics from more of a technical and academic angle like KDD. There were hardly any shows focused on the business application of analytics. One of the earliest in that space was the National Center For Database Marketing (NCDM) show.

In the past year, I have been made aware of at least a dozen analytics oriented shows. Most of the new ones are going for a business spin. Some are general shows covering anything that can be called analytics. Some are focused on one topic such as web analytics. Some are focused on one industry, some are hosted by vendors, and some are regional while others are national. Analytics shows are popping up left and right and, overall, this is a terrific thing for the field of analytics. For the most part, they are incredible opportunities for us to collaborate and exchange ideas and experiences with one another.

My concern, however, is over-saturation of the market. How can this many analytics shows be viable in the long run? There is a risk that many of the shows will have trouble attracting enough attendees and compelling content to survive in the long run. Over time, it is almost certain that a few winners will emerge and many will disappear. In the meantime, I hope that people won’t attend a disappointing show and then write off the idea of analytics conferences in general. The analytics community needs to attract and engage as many people as possible. A compelling, value packed conference is one way to do that.

I think it is important for those of us in the analytics community to provide candid feedback to the organizers of the events we attend. Better yet, be an active attendee and provide input before the event. Guide the organizers down the path of what you want to see in a show, and which speakers have valuable insight. The organizers who listen will survive and morph into something with tremendous value. It is in all of our interest, and the interest of the broader analytics community, to make sure that when an analytics conference takes place, it is valuable and worthwhile.

Below, I’ve put a list of some shows coming up through the end of 2011. This list is not exhaustive, as it just shows the ones I’ve heard of through the end of the year, but you can see why I wonder if analytics conferences have gone wild!

I’m curious if you, our readers, have heard of others? What, where, and when are they? Were they valuable? Who can and should attend? Did any speakers blow you away?