Last month, I announced the [MC]2 MTConnect®: Connecting Manufacturing Conference with a call for papers. These papers are what we will use to determine the technical and business sessions. [MC]2 will be held on Nov. 8-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Hyatt Regency.
[MC]2 will have technical and business tracks, as well as general sessions to discuss all things MTConnect. The technical tracks will have subject matter experts leading hands-on labs for software developers to learn about MTConnect at both the machine side, as well as the application level. The business tracks will feature discussions from manufacturing business leaders that will benefit everyone from plant floor employees to C-level executives in better understanding how MTConnect improves productivity throughout the plant. The general sessions will feature discussions about what the future will hold for increasing manufacturing in an open world where data is king.
I have attended countless IT conferences and a few manufacturing conferences over the last three decades. A question that everyone asks before they decide to invest both their time and money in either speaking at or attending a conference is to determine the ROI for them from two perspectives:
From a company perspective, does this make sense for my company to invest their money and my time to attend this conference? In other words: What new skills will I learn to help me in my job? From a personal perspective: How will this help my resume? That includes getting to the next level at the prospective attendee's current company, or perhaps getting a new job at a different company.
I would argue that these two perspectives are missing the true ROI for both the company as well as the individual attending a conference such as [MC]2. The true ROI is not just what happens during the business, technical or general sessions, but what happens before, between and after those sessions in the hallways, the breaks, the restaurants and the bars. It is those impromptu conversations and meetings where you meet folks who are doing the same thing you are trying to do but have a different approach. It is these discussions that cause you to think differently and ask questions that you would have never thought of prior to the conference. Those individuals who you meet and then continue to have ongoing conversations with beyond the event are absolutely priceless. It is meeting customers in a setting where you are both searching for creative solutions that can be the petri dish for future collaborations. It is grabbing the speaker of a session and going out for lunch together to discuss some of the finer points of the session. It is the suggestion from another attendee to check out some open source software that your company could use to save tens of thousands of dollars. It is adding lots of new contacts that will save you time and your company money when you run into future challenges.
The next time you are considering attending a conference such as [MC]2, remember that the true ROI is not just the sessions, it is who you meet, what you learn, the relationships you create during impromptu conversations and meetings.
Whether you are technical or on the business side of manufacturing, [MC]2 is a MUST-ATTEND event in 2011! Check out http://MTConnect.org/MC2 for more information!
Director, The Office of Strategic Innovation
AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology