During 2009 the JDE community had the opportunity to attend around a dozen different events including Collaborate, Oracle OpenWorld, regional Quest events and local user group meetings.  In virtually all of them attendance was down versus previous comparable events. My company was one a small number of organizations that participated in all of them.  We will be selective about what we go to this year. 

Even though 2010 will likely be a stronger year for most businesses than 2009 we believe that willingness to send people to off-site meetings will not increase significantly.  Most of you will therefore be fortunate to get approval to attend even one of these events this year. 

The first casualty of the new economic reality will likely be the local user groups.  2010 could be the last year that most hold regular meetings.  Some of the regional meetings are also in danger of extinction.  The Northeast regional conference seems to have the best chance for long-term survival.  While Oracle OpenWorld will probably continue be held long after the Sun explodes, in the next few years its appeal as a venue for JDE customers will likely continue to diminish. 

The biggest question mark is Collaborate.  2009 attendance was negatively impacted by more than just the economy – holding it in May in Orlando was not ideal and swine flu concerns were at a high point.  In spite of all this the show was still modestly successful.  A return to Vegas this coming April will almost certainly help but may not bring attendance back to the 2008 level. 

Quest is doing a good job of coping with adversity.  Much of its revenue comes from these events.  It is therefore putting much more energy and creativity into making events, especially Collaborate, more attractive and worthwhile.  A program of active and aggressive promotion of Collaborate is underway. 

If you have only the time, budget or political capital for one off-site event this year Collaborate should be at the top of your list.  It offers a rich variety of quality presentations, an outstanding vendor expo that includes many Oracle and JDE experts on every offering of interest, and lots of opportunity to compare notes with others that face the same challenges you do.  It has also frequently been a venue where Oracle makes important announcements.  I hope to see lots of you there.