Object World Changes Yet Persists

OT still new to many users

Object World, the conference and trade show dedicated to object technology (OT), has undergone significant changes in the year since its last exposition in northern California. Formerly owned and operated by the Object Management Group (OMG) of Cambridge, MA, Object World has come under the umbrella of a major IT show promoter. OMG sold it to Softbank Comdex, Inc. (SCI), of Needham, MA, which puts on the series of Comdex shows and is known for its aggressive pursuit of other shows. (SCI also manages the UniForum Conference and Trade Show.)

OMG's charter is to provide technology standards to the industry. Managing the trade show was getting in the way of that primary focus, according to William Hoffman, former president of Object World Corp. who has remained at OMG as vice president of business development. "At one time we had more people working on Object World than in all the rest of OMG," he says. SCI's deep pockets were needed to try to grow the show as well.

This year, Object World West was relocated from San Francisco's Moscone Center to the San Jose Convention Center, 50 miles south. The change of venue was not deliberate, according to Hoffman. "We couldn't get good dates at Moscone," he says. However, the show will return there for the next three years. Taking into account the shifts in both show management and location, Object World principals call the San Jose show a success. Andy Wahtera, director of Object World Worldwide for SCI, estimates show attendance at 7,000 to 7,500--about the same as last year in San Francisco. Several observers, however, perceived the show as smaller and less busy. Just over 100 vendors exhibited.

The Long Haul

After more than seven years of promotion, OT remains an advanced technology niche market, despite the efforts of software suppliers and OMG. Its main trade show exponent also attracts a fairly narrow audience. If you are interested enough in OT to come to a trade show, you have probably done at least a little research on the technology. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that many attendees are savvy enough to know what they want to know. On the other hand, those who don't just won't come.

The test for any IT conference is, of course, to attract people from outside the industry, who use it for their own purposes. OMG sees positive movement in this regard. "We're delighted to see more end users [in attendance and giving presentations]," Hoffman says. But he admits that OT still has an uphill road ahead. "We're still in the early stages of production applications. There just aren't a lot of them out there."

"Several end users demonstrated impressive OT-based applications."

A segment of the Object World West conference--Industries in Action, scheduled for midday each day--revealed the current situation. Several end users demonstrated impressive OT-based applications that they believe will provide an edge for their organizations. However, a few other scheduled presenters had to cancel, either because their applications had not progressed far enough to show or because "their CEO wouldn't let them out of the lab," Hoffman says.

In an industry known for its leaps from one hot technology to the next, OT has had to move in incremental steps. Its advocates admit that its computing model, different from those of even the recent past, will take time to implement. The question is whether those eagerly sought adopters have the patience to wait.

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