If you have been following us in the past few years, you have noticed that RADACAD is running some conferences recently; Difinity conference in New Zealand was the first one which started in 2017 and we run it once a year from that time, the Power BI Summit 2021, and 2022 which happened this March, and now we are also planning for the Data Insight Summit in Chicago in September 2022. To answer some of the questions we thought it is better to make a public announcement about why we run conferences, and the result is this post.
Running conference for profit or not?
This is perhaps the question that we need to address first; Are we in RADACAD run conferences for profit? The short answer is no. However, this requires a longer discussion. Here are more details about it:
We ran and still run free events and conferences for the community. And we won’t stop doing that. However, when something is available for free you either need to have a powerful sponsor with loads of money to spend on that event. or you need to do a low-cost event so that it is a possible-to-run event. We are not good at getting those kinds of sponsors to make our free events to become really high-quality. So the result is; that we also run paid events to have a better quality delivered to attendees and speakers.
Do conferences such as Difinity or Power BI Summit generate Profit?
Yes, Of course, they do. They are not free conferences, so there is certainly a profit. However, When calculating the profit, we perhaps did not count for the time that Leila and I and many other RADACAD staff put together for this event. If Leila or I spent just half of the time that we spend on a conference planning and organization for running our courses, the profit for that course would be much more than this. Those community friends who run conferences such as SQLBits, PASS, Power BI Next Step, DataMinds Connect, and many other events can understand it I’m sure. There is A LOT OF work involved in making a conference happen. On the other hand, conferences that are built for profit are charging much more amounts than what RADACAD charges for the conferences. There is a company (which I prefer not to call by its name here in this blog) that runs conferences on a much smaller scale and fewer local-only speakers, less content, and much less quality than the Difinity conference and yet their ticket price is three times the ticket price of Difinity conference. That business is an example of a business that is based on running conferences.
We always try to compensate even just a little to the speakers of our events. If this is an in-person event, it includes accommodation (such as Difinity), for online events we will pass on a small gift card as gratitude (such as Power BI Summit). I won’t name it but there are some conferences that won’t pay a penny to the speaker! We don’t feel that way. We believe our conferences are successful because of our amazing speakers. We appreciate them. And there are some good community conferences that are doing the same too. We always design a profitable plan for our pre-conference speakers, We don’t see a pre-con as an opportunity for us to earn money, instead, an opportunity for speakers to earn some money to cover their travel costs, etc.
Is RADACAD going to have a department of business for running conferences?
No. Definitely not from a revenue perspective. We do not run conferences for profit. However, conferences that we run generate a small profit.
RADACAD is not getting paid by Microsoft to run these events. We are, however, lucky to sometimes have Microsoft sponsoring our events (Such as the local Microsoft NZ sponsoring the Difinity conference in the past few years) alongside other sponsors. And much more lucky to have the support of Microsoft’s speakers (Such as Power BI product team speakers support in the Power BI Summit events).
So considering all of that, then why does RADACAD run conferences? let’s talk about that.
The need in the community
When we came to New Zealand in 2012, there was a SQL Server active user group in Auckland (Special thanks to Dave Dustin who ran it), There was a yearly SQL Saturday in Auckland too (Again thanks to Dave). We also had similar events and groups in other cities such as Wellington and Christchurch. However, there was no big conference focused on Data and Analytics. Even after we had Auckland’s BI user group and run multiple SQL Saturdays in Auckland ourselves, we felt that the community needs a bigger event. A multi-day event that has multiple tracks, expert speakers from around the world, the quality of venue and organization, and everything with it. There was a PASS in the USA, SQLBits in the UK, but nothing in New Zealand. That is why we decided to run the Difinity conference.
Fast forward to 2022, and we are glad that we did that. We heard from a lot of attendees of the Difinity conference that they felt the gap for such an event, and they loved it.
For the same reason, we started Power BI Summit virtual event in 2021. We have been thinking of having a virtual global event for Power BI even before COVID-19, However, we’ve been so busy actually doing it. When the COVID-19 came and changed the life of many people in the world, we decided to do this virtual event. This was a pure Power BI conference and virtual only. The Microsoft Business Applications Summit was a great event, but Power BI was just a small part of that event, and running it virtually brought the scale even smaller. So that is why we ran the Power BI Summit in 2021. It was a great success, Many of the attendees loved it and enjoyed it. There were comments such as “Even if there was no COVID, I couldn’t fly to big conferences because I have kids at home, etc”, So we decided to continue running this event, COVID or not.
Now we are thinking of running a Data Insight Summit, which is a conference with a heavy focus on Power BI and Data Analytics in Chicago in September. Exactly because of the same reason. There is a need for it. The PASS is covering everything data-related, but Power BI is not the main focus there. Power Platform conference is covering everything in the Power Platform, but again Power BI is just part of it. Data Insight Summit would be an event with the main focus on Power BI and Analytics.
There are places in the world where the need is fulfilled beautifully. Our friends in Europe running conferences such as Power BI Next Step, Power BI Gebruikersgroep, and many other events. We love their work and appreciate the time and effort they put together for such events.
So one main reason that we run these conferences is the need for that in the community. We love doing things for the community, It gives us energy. Doing things for the community is not new for us, we write blogs, create YouTube videos, speak at conferences, and travel all around the world for the community.
Credit for RADACAD
Running the conference for the community is not the only reason why we do it. Another reason is that it gives RADACAD a credit for running it.
We sponsored a couple of events back in 2016; the PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose and SQLBits Liverpool. They have both been fantastic events. However, we experienced that we (Leila and I) are not marketing people or salespeople! If you talk with us just for a few minutes you realize that we are technical people. At those events, we’ve been bored sitting at our booth, perhaps working with our laptops and not doing good booth sponsorship work. That experience made us realize that we are not good at sponsoring events (if the goal of sponsoring is to get credit or leads or whatever from the conference attendees). After we run some conferences ourselves, we realized that running a conference gives us as much credit as the sponsors (if not more) without us needing to be the salesperson or marketing person. Running a conference helps us to show our brand even more.
But does it mean that RADACAD’s business plan or anything else changes? No. We are still in Training and Consulting business on Data Analytics solutions, especially Power BI. And nothing changes that. Running conferences is just helping us to build our brand for it.
We consider running a conference like writing a book. We never write a book for profit. The amount of work, energy, and time we put together for a book is far more than the revenue and profit from it. We write books so that we help the community and teach them, on the other hand, it helps us. Others would reach out to us gradually because they read our books. We consider running a conference to be exactly the same. We do not run it for profit, so we try to keep the ticket price reasonable. It helps the community with a high-quality event and networking and learning opportunity, and also helps us build our brand even more.
So in short; RADACAD is not running conferences for profit. However, there is a small profit for each event. We run the conference to help the community and present ourselves as a brand in the community.