Q:

I am looking into data warehousing conferences for training purposes. I have found two, one sponsored by The Data Warehousing Institute and another by DCI (Digital Consulting Institute). Can you give me any input as to the quality of these conferences and/or your preferences?

A:

Sid Adelman’s Answer: DCI is focusing more now on customer relationship management (CRM) with a single track specifically on data warehousing. The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) has the whole week on nothing but data warehouse. TDWI has a format primarily of comprehensive full day classes while DCI’s presentations typically are one hour. If your primary interest is CRM, you may want to attend both.

Scott Howard’s Answer: Don’t dismiss conferences held by your key RDBMS and BI tool vendors. I actually prefer vendor-sponsored events to the independent ones because they tend to be more specific and more in depth. Several of this forum’s experts are also involved in the IBM DB2 and BI Technical Conference. That vendor-sponsored conference boasts extremely high attendee- satisfaction ratings for a wide variety of in-depth technical content. Not only do I present there but spend the remainder of the week enjoying other talks by lesser-known experts and actual product developers about how to best use technology to solve specific business problems. Most RDBMS vendors have similar worthwhile events. However, I can only attest to the quality of the DB2 event. I’ve attended both the Data Warehousing Institute and several different DCI conferences and found them interesting. All of these conferences must be of high quality or, like a neighborhood restaurant, would not survive from year to year. However, you do need to also concern yourself with the quality of the individual sessions. I’ve attended too many sessions by industry heralded “experts” promising in-depth topic coverage. Most are useful, but some of these sessions only scratch the subject-matter surface, turning instead into a marketing avenue for the speaker. If you sense that the technical session your are viewing is turning into one hour plus of how much better off you would be by contracting the speaker’s services, get out. You’ll still have time to catch the end of a worthwhile technical session. With that said, the rest of my advice will make good sense. Look for a wide variety of diverse parallel technical sessions pertaining to your interest. That way you are insured of an appropriate and desirable backup session should your original choice be a stinker. Also look for the opportunity to see your topics more than once. I’m not suggesting that you use your valuable finite conference time to see the same session twice. Sessions offered multiple times will offset the problem introduced by multiple parallel sessions and tracks, that is, too much of what you need to see offered at the same time. If sessions are repeated, you have more opportunity to experience exactly what you need.

Chuck Kelley’s Answer: I have only attended the DCI conferences. Most DCI conferences are mostly vendors speaking. I really like the vendor shows that go along with them. This gives me an opportunity to speak with a lot of vendors over a short period of time. The Data Warehousing Institute Conferences are noted for their more rounded speakers, but since I have not attended one, I cannot confirm that. Regardless, I think that if you know what you want to get out of a conference, either would be a reasonable conference to attend.

Larissa Moss’s Answer: DCI has an excellent data warehouse project management seminar which covers all the key issues, traps, risks, best practices anyone on a data warehouse team should be aware of. It provides an excellent architectural and infrastructure framework for other more specific seminars. The seminar is two days long, and the next one will be offered in March in Chicago. For more info go to www.dciseminars.com.

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