Countdown to UNITE 2010

UNITE will hold its conference this month - May 23-26 - at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. In recent years, the UNITE conference has traditionally been held in the fall. The timing was changed based on extensive interviews done with focus groups at the last conference in Minneapolis, Jim Shelton, chairman of the board for UNITE, tells 5 Minute Briefing. "I think it has been received pretty well," says Shelton of the change. "We are certainly getting plenty of registrations, and we are actually running slightly ahead of Minneapolis."

Highlights will include a keynote by IDC's John F. Gantz, who will address the consumerization of IT, as increasingly mobile, tech-savvy workers are blending the borders between work and home and using productivity devices (PDAs, smartbooks, laptops, tablets, e-readers). The conference will also include the traditional technical update sessions for which the UNITE conference is known. Those sessions will begin on Sunday afternoon in order to have time for them all, says Shelton. There are a number of labs which are designed to provide hand-on training in EAE, BIS, and MCP. In addition, the conference features a vendor expo hall, providing what Shelton describes as a perfect opportunity to meet a broad array of vendors in the Unisys market space, as well as many opportunities for networking, which is one of the key reasons for attending an in-person conference, he adds.

"Baltimore is a popular destination city. It should be easy to get in and out of in terms of flights and connections," says Shelton, pointing out that with its location in the inner harbor, from the hotel, attendees can easily get to restaurants, the aquarium, the maritime museum, and other activities adjacent to the conference. In addition, Shelton says, UNITE has arranged for the hotel to offer conference rates for a few days before and a few days after the conference so people can come and bring the family.

"I have heard from the hotel that is filling up rapidly," Shelton cautions. As a result, he explains, UNITE has made contingency arrangements with some additional hotels in the area to make sure no one is closed out. Information about those accommodations can be obtained by calling UNITE directly.

Planning a conference in only 6 months, as opposed to a year has been a challenge, but "the working groups, Unisys, and all the speakers have more than met that challenge," Shelton notes. "The important thing we have tried to convey is that, yes this is a change, but this is the only one you are going to see now for a year. This will be the only UNITE Unisys user conference in North America in 2010. We are encouraging people to do what they can do to come."

For more information about the May UNITE conference and to register, go here.