I spent 2015 attending a little over 15 technology conferences as a press person to find that, frankly, most of them are essentially the same. They may all sport a different vendor’s name, but from registration to sessions to expo to closing party, they have all been cut from the same cookie-cutter cloth. Each contain minor differences and nuances, but those differences are generally due to the hosting city and its surroundings.

These are what we call “Keynote Conferences.” Keynote Conferences are events that are driven by product and service announcements, vetted and written by the company’s marketing teams. The event is kicked off by a keynote speech (there may be several other keynotes throughout the event), usually by a C-level person at the company, and then the rest of the week the event is driven by the messaging that was introduced. There may be “technical” sessions, but those sessions are designed to promote the original theme created during the keynote(s). Keynotes are grand marketing sessions. Did you know that these types of events are actually managed and driven by the marketing teams?

There’s nothing wrong with Keynote Conferences, particularly if your company and your IT team finds value in them. They are a way for vendors to reach a mass audience at a single point in time and for marketing and sales to deliver a roadmap for planned innovations. Unfortunately, and for the most part, these types of conferences are all some people really know. Additionally, some of the other conferences that were originally community events have secretly evolved or have been recently rolled-up into Keynote Conferences. As a press person, this past year I found that I could get just as much value streaming the keynotes to my computer as actually attending the events in person. I know from talking with a lot of you, you are now starting to feel the same way. Even most technical sessions can be streamed in 24 hours or less after they are delivered live.

You may not even be aware that there are different types of technology conferences. Incidentally, and because of this, our IT/Dev content team is putting together a “Guide to Technology Conferences” to help you understand the differences, know what to look for, and be able to apply those differences to your personal and professional requirements. Look for that to release sometime within the next month.

IT/Dev Connections, on the other hand, is a deep-dive, technical learning and community event – not a Keynote Conference. Yes – in the past, we’ve had what we called “Keynotes” to kick off the event week. But, those keynote sessions were inappropriately named because they were never intended to drive the week’s content, nor did they supply marketing and messaging in any way. We named them that to be just like everybody else. But, we’re not everybody else. IT/Dev Connections is a truly unique and right-sized, community and education conference. IT/Dev Connections has two simple goals: a) supply what you need for your technology job right now, and, b) enable you to join and participate in the larger community.

So, this year, we’re going all in. In an effort to further distance ourselves from the Keynote Conferences, we’re acknowledging our true event-type by eliminating keynotes completely and even kicking off the week with a fantastic community event instead of a keynote. Additionally, we’ll have extra community events and sessions littered throughout the week, allowing you to make IT/Dev Connections an even more personal and rewarding experience. To get the true value of IT/Dev Connections you have to be there. Community is not something you can stream. And, because we cap attendance, you won’t get lost in a massive crowd, won’t have your paths directed by massive rope roads, yelled at to fall in line, or miss a critical technical session because it’s too full.

Imagine that – a community conference that is blatantly driven by, and created for, the community.

We hope this news will excite you. I’m already getting excited about this new direction and can’t wait for the 2016 conference to kick-off so I can show you want we have planned and how everything I learned from my year on the road in 2015 is going into bringing even more of the best to IT/Dev Connections 2016.