Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Business of Software 2009: General info

The Business of Software 2009 - A Joel On Software Conference was held in San Francisco from November 9th to 11th. I attended it for the first time even though this is the third iteration of the conference. I have been trying to get to it for the last couple of years. It is not a technical conference, which is normally the type of conference I attend for the last couple of decades. Nope, this conference was for the other half of my job, running a software development company. As much as I love designing, programming and developing solutions for my customers, I have a second role as the president of a growing company. I also love doing things like sales, marketing, hiring good people, sub-contracting, accounting, invoicing, and numerous other tasks I bundle under the term: "administrivia." This conference was more about the administrivia side of my job than the technical.

The conference was not inexpensive like a code camp, SQL Saturday, or even a regional conference like Southwest Fox. In fact the registration cost me US$1695 (early-bird saved me $300), flight was US$400, and the hotel was US$275 a night. All said and done, I spent close to US$3000 to attend. So why would I spend this much money on a conference? The marketing was simple in an email from the conference organizer Neil Davidson (founder and president of Red Gate - makers of SQL Server and .NET developer tools):
  1. It'll pay back for itself many times over. You'll come out with ideas and practical advice that will change the way you run your business.
  2. You'll meet hundreds of like-minded people. Running a business, or a team, can be lonely as well as hard. At BoS2009 you'll meet loads of people in the same boat as you. You'll be inspired, but also challenged and reassured.
  3. It will give you perspective. Two days in San Francisco, out of the office, will give you a much-needed perspective on the things that really count. It's amazing what you can get out of a bit of breathing space away from the daily routine.
  4. You'll get to hear from top people in the Business of Software. The speakers have been chosen because they have something to say, not because they have something to pitch. They are Joel Spolsky, Geoffrey Moore, Don Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen, Jennifer Aaker, Michael Lopp, Ryan Carson, Paul Kenny, Dharmesh Shah, Kathy Sierra and The Cranky Product Manager.
Neil had me with the first two, and the final two were just icing on the cake. Actually I was sold before his email as I had watched a couple of videos from prior years and talked with a couple of FoxPro friends about their experiences at prior Business of Software conferences. The only thing that stopped me from attending before was the scheduling and conflicts I could not resolve.

Since I was not speaking at this conference I had very little prep work, which was nice. The only four things I did:
  1. Reviewed the topics in advance to see which ones I thought I would get the most out of.
  2. Noted several questions I had that I was hoping to address with other delegates at the conference.
  3. Polish up the 30 second elevator speech about White Light Computing so when I was asked what I do I would have a good answer.
  4. Packed some additional business cards.
I attended with my friend Dale Zimmer (president of Detroit Area Fox User Group). We flew out to SF on Sunday, which is the day before the conference officially starts. The flight out Dale and I talked about a number of things we were hoping to get out of the conference. Honestly, based on our conversations during the 5 hours to SF and the things I learned, the conference was already in full gear before it was wheels down at SFO. Once in SF I was checking the Twitter stream to see how the welcoming reception was getting into full craziness. By the way, if you are interested in reading other people tweets about the conference, search for #BoS2009 and you will get time line with lots to read. During the conference several delegates were basically taking notes via their Twitter client. I was learning a lot reading their perspectives while listening to the speakers share their topic.

We dropped off our luggage and headed to the reception once we got to the Westin Market Street (conference hotel in downtown SF). We talked with some of the other delegates, and eventually hung out with Dave Bernard (another Visual FoxPro developer and business owner from Atlanta). I did get a chance to talk with Neil Davidson and thanked him for all his efforts in putting on the conference. As an organizer I know how much I appreciate when people let me know they appreciate the conference and the work that goes into it. Exchanged a few business cards and then headed back to the room to get some rest before the real kickoff on Monday.

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At 11/24/2009 04:04:00 PM, Blogger Dave Bernard said...

Check this out: http://wiki.businessofsoftware.org/

At 11/25/2009 05:58:00 AM, Blogger Andrew MacNeill said...


Thanks for this. I've been wanting to attend and this (and the other) summary items give some more great reasons.


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