Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 draws to a close

Here at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007, the emphasis is on using network and server-based solutions – like virtualisation, VOIP, web apps and ‘green IT’ – to reduce both costs and risks while developing the agility to respond to growing demands on IT.

It’s a simple message and, in many ways, helps the event to have more relaxed feeling than in previous years, partly because of the dynamic industry context in which IT spending is set to exceed $3bn this year. There are few surprises for attendees here and, although final session may be on Friday morning, a lot of press and AR folk are happily packing up today in Orlando. The theme of few surprises was continued also at the AR Forum meeting and Tuesday’s AR lunch (more on that in the next posting).

The one impression that’s shared the most by attendees I have spoken with here is that analysts are cautious with their comments. They seem to feel that the audience here is more cautious and defensive with its IT than, for example, the audience at the other Symposiums around the world. The emphasis is more on change at those other events, especially because of the growth in emerging markets. One-third of IT spending is now outside North America, Western Europe and Japan.

The current estimates are 6,150 attendees (within 2 or 3% of last year’s attendance) and just 147 ITxpo exhibitors. The ITxpo floor here feels much more spacious, with lounge areas for various communities and spaces for solution provider sessions. Furthermore, the ITxpo is open only in two sessions on four days: one between 12 and 3 pm, and then a second 5.30 to 7 pm session when the floor is lifted by ‘cocktail receptions’ and solution provider sessions. Since most attendees take lunch in a large marquee outside the Dolphin hotel, that means that footfall in the ITxpo is a little constrained during the first session: in the second many attendees are attracted by the food and drink, and that’s perhaps more valable.

For the sales and marketing professionals staffing the booths, it must be frustrating to have the stalls and people there all the time, but for the ITxpo to be only open for around 12 hours over the six days of the event (including time when the floor is used for cocktails and vendor presentations). I don’t really ‘get’ the rationale for having it closed the rest of the time.

One way to try to get more people into the ITxpo is to spend less time on lunch. Food lines seemed faster this year, and your correspondent noted the absence of dawdle-inducing dessert. In previous years ice cream or cookies were available on the ITxpo floor, but none could be seen. Perhaps dessert is out of fashion here.

In many ways the booths on the ITxpo floor seem better used. Fewer firms are giving away iPods, having realised that a list of attendees who want free iPods isn’t the same as a list of prospects.

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