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Right now I am in Barcelona, attending Gartner Group’s ITxpo 2013. I am really looking forward to an interesting week, and I have already attended a couple of sessions this Sunday afternoon.

Not everybody agrees that attending a conference like this is worth the money and the trip.

I have heard various reasons:

1. Biased information

Some would say that consulting companies like Gartner, BCG, Forrester, etc. only are driven by commercial interest. Hence, their message is biased and they don’t reflect the trends in the market, but rather try to affect the market to follow trends that they define so that they can profit from them.

2. Lack of relevance

A lot of the information that they base their reports on are not necessarily very relevant for the business I am responsible for, and the adaptable value is low.

3. They tend to take over

If you invite them inside your company, they tend to take over. We should be able to run our business ourselves.

4. Price

Their services and information are expensive.

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I would be careful to put any characteristics on a company like Gartner, since I do not have a lot of direct experience using them. By I have heard many keynotes and read many articles on trends, technology, strategy, etc. from them. And I find them very interesting. I don’t believe they are always correct, but they set an agenda. And I believe that is an important difference – setting an agenda contra defining a trend.

It’s with technology and strategy as it is with any other topic in society: as a consumer (business or private) I want to have as much information as possible, and make my own assessments based on the information.

So wether these consulting companies are biased or not is not that interesting, as long as I challenge my own analytical capacity and make up my mind. So I do not agree on those that believe that running the IT in a self-made manner is the best way to go.

Sometimes it can be useful to learn from other’s mistake, not always from own mistakes.

As a CIO I need input from the outside. And I don’t have the capacity to ask 1000 CIO’s the same question and get answers I can analyze. That’s what these companies do. Their assessments may be incorrect, but the input is interesting. And valueable for me.

So what to I want to get out of a week at the ITxpo?

1. Learn more about the emerging trends between business and technology, and discuss this with peers in the convention.

2. Build up my network.

3. Share experiences with peers who are in the similar situation and experience the same scenarios I have in my company.

4. Be inspired, and get some ideas for IT strategy that I can bring back to my own team.

Everyday-life in an IT department is so busy and reactive, that giving time for some proactive thinking is really something I am looking forward to.

Do you think it is worth the time and effort to go to a venue like this?