Orin Thomas is great friend of IT/Dev Connections. He always provides wonderful insight through his expert sessions. One of the highest rated sessions is one that he leads entitled, “Mid-life Crisis of the IT Pro.” Select panelists offer insight into what it takes to succeed as an IT Pro.

Orin has just posted an excellent piece of content, taking the reins on one of the most burning questions of the day: Is it still worth going to conferences?

Orin does a great job making the case for attending conferences instead of just consuming the sessions through online streaming. Most big vendor conferences record every session and make them available to watch at your desk through your web browser within a few hours of the live delivery. But, there’s also a caveat here – these sessions are driven by marketing and are generally delivered as very high-level – and only delivered to support the messaging of the week proposed through the show’s opening keynotes. Keynotes use to be visionary speeches, but these days they’ve been hijacked and turned into narratives.

Orin’s suggestion for attending conferences in this new era of mega-event marketing is to be prepared. Know what you’re getting into, and instead of hoping the sessions meet your needs, look for opportunities to network and join community.

Without meaning to, I think, Orin makes the best case for attending IT/Dev Connections over any other conference. We’ve taken great care to ensure that its easy to connect with speakers, easy to find networking and community opportunities, and our session are 100% deep-dive without a shred of marketing or messaging. We still cover the same products the other conferences do, we just take a very different approach to ensure developers and IT Pros can do what’s expected – and that is to learn and solve problems. Our speakers are integrated with the event and easy to connect with. Plus, you don’t have to fight for a seat in your favorite sessions.

I think its OK to skip those mass events where its only about product announcements and just stream them online, but when you want more – when you want to go back to work with more than a couple new t-shirts, you want a conference like IT/Dev Connections where its been developed around you.

So, really – the answer is the classical “It depends.” It really depends on which conference you’re talking about.

If your idea of a conference is essentially just paid leave full of parties and an expo circus, there’s plenty to attend. Of course, after a year or more of those, management may start to wonder why the company’s technology issues aren’t getting solved, or why the company technology continues to lag behind its competitors.

At some point, the realization will be made that a conference has to benefit both the attendee’s career and the employer’s requirements. Its at that point where IT/Dev Connections becomes the most valuable event all year.