Going to an IT partner summit or user symposium in America these days is more like going to a rock concert than going to a conference about computers.
Instead of smart suits and PowerPoint presentations, today's conferences are all about an impressive mix of video, graphics and PA systems that would be the envy of many an undiscovered band.
Amid cool lighting and an eclectic mix of electronic music, casually dressed IT executives high on adrenaline usually bound onto the stage with radio mics and big smiles, as if they had just had a number-one in the singles charts.
In addition, IT vendors usually roll out some high-profile guest speaker to add to the razzmatazz of their conferences.
Film director Francis Ford Coppola, entrepreneur Richard Branson, astronaut John Glenn and, more recently, actor Robert Redford, are some of the 'faces' I have seen speak, courtesy of the IT industry.
Although sceptics of this sort of showbiz style at conferences might say it is the IT industry's attempt to shake of its anorak image, the bald truth is that the geek has inherited the earth.
The world's richest man is a former software developer and the most powerful companies on the stock exchanges around the globe are now companies that develop and provide IT hardware, software or services.
The bottom line for business productivity these days is all about what IT architectures companies invest in and what applications they choose to run on top of them.
These showbiz presentations probably stem from the halcyon days of Comdex in Las Vegas, where in one week you could go and see the vast majority of the great and good of the IT industry in the flesh, speaking about their visions of the future.
In Vegas, many an IT exec has had to put on a good show to compete with rivals. But despite the rock and roll, flash sets and in some cases wonderful locations, the conferences are essential.
Vendors know that it is the one time of the year when they can all get together to solve problems, reward hard work and build for the future.
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