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SPARK 2013 by the Numbers

SPARK 2013
A few weeks ago we wrapped up the sixth annual Electric Cloud Summit: SPARK 2013. This year’s event was hands down the best we’ve done, with more content, more speakers and more attendees than ever before. For the first time we had invited keynote speakers including agile development and continuous delivery luminaries like Jez Humble (who literally wrote the book on continuous delivery!) and Gene Kim. We also had live streaming so that people who couldn’t make it to the conference in person could still watch and listen to the keynote sessions — if you missed the conference, you can watch the recordings now, and I really recommend that you do.

As usual, I did some analysis of the event once the conference was over. Here are the results.

Registration and Attendance

Each year since its inception, the summit has set a new record for total registrations, and SPARK 2013 was no exception with 186 people signed up. But even more impressive is the record 168 attendees — those people that actually made it to the conference. That beats the previous high of 146 from 2011 and is a massive 33% increase from the 126 attendees in 2012:

SPARK 2013 Attendees

But that’s not the end of the story on attendance this year, because for the first time we offered live streaming over the Internet. That added an impressive 84 additional “virtual” attendees to the keynote session, bringing the total to over 250 attendees.

I think three factors contributed to the high registration and the better-than-90% conversion rate. First, there’s no doubt that the list of keynote speakers helped attract people to the event:

  • Jez Humble, co-author of “Continuous Delivery”
  • Gary Gruver, co-author of “A Practical Approach to Large-Scale Agile Development”
  • Gene Kim, author of “The Phoenix Project”
  • Paul Rogers, Chief Development Office at General Electric

Second, this was the first time that the conference was open to the public rather than being exclusively for Electric Cloud customers. Finally, this was the first time that attendees paid to attend the conference — somewhat counter-intuitively, you can sometimes increase interest in an offering simply by charging more for it. I think this has to do with the perceived value of the offering: some people think, “If this is free, it must not be very good.” Plus, once you’ve paid for a conference, you’re more likely to attend because you don’t want your money to go to waste.

Repeat attendance

A solid 25% of the attendees in 2013 had attended at least one previous summit, slightly down from the percentage of repeat attendees in 2012, but in line with the historical average. Amazingly, three die-hard users have attended all six conferences!

SPARK 2013 Repeat Attendees

Presentations

SPARK 2013 had about 20% more sessions than 2012, and again more of the content came from users and partners than in any previous year. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to see too many of the presentations since I was a presenter myself, but I did get to watch the keynotes at least. If you didn’t watch the SPARK 2013 keynotes yet, you really should. It’s OK, I’ll wait.

The 2013 conference had 35 sessions in total, spanning four days and three tracks, including all the keynotes, training and track sessions:

SPARK 2013 Presentations

Origins

As usual, the majority of attendees were from the United States, but a respectable 10% braved international travel to attend in person:

SPARK 2013 Attendee Countries

Fourteen US states were represented — the exact number of states represented in 2012 and in 2011, but a different set from either of those years. If I didn’t know better I’d say this was evidence of some kind of conspiracy. As expected, most of the US attendees were from California, but about 20% were from other states:

SPARK 2012 Attendee States

Industries and Delegations

67 companies sent people to SPARK 2013, representing a broad array of industries. Some of those are the usual suspects, like software and telecommunications, but there are some surprises as well, like the 4 companies in the retail industry and the one in education. As they say, software is eating the world. Many companies sent only one representative, but just a bit more than half sent two or more. One large networking company sent fifteen people to SPARK 2013!

SPARK 2013 Industries

Rate of registration

Finally, here’s a look at the rate of registration in the weeks leading up to SPARK 2013. In 2012 I hypothesized that the relatively low attendance numbers were partly because promotional activity for the event didn’t really get started until about 9 weeks prior to the conference. I thought perhaps that was not enough lead time for people. But to my surprise, the same is true this year and yet we had significantly more registrations than in 2012. I still think we could get even more if we started promoting the event earlier, but obviously there’s more to the story than simply that. The good news is that the team behind SPARK 2013 is already planning for SPARK 2014, so hopefully next year we’ll see if I’m right.

SPARK 2013 Registrations

Don’t miss SPARK 2014!

Overall I think SPARK 2013 represents a turning point in the evolution of the Electric Cloud Summit. In a way it’s like we’re finally “growing up”, going from a small, private event to a serious public conference. I can’t wait to see what SPARK 2014 looks like, and I hope you’ll all join me there next year!

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Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 by the Numbers

This month saw the fifth annual Electric Cloud Customer Summit, in many ways the best event yet. Located at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, California, the 2012 Summit had more presentations, more repeat attendees, and more customer and partner involvement than any previous summit. For the first time, we had a “Partner Pavilion” where our customers could meet and learn about offerings from several Electric Cloud partners: Parasoft, Perforce, Opscode, Rally, Klocwork and WindRiver. We also offered in-depth training on ElectricCommander and ElectricAccelerator the day prior to the summit proper, with strong attendance for both.

But the best part of the Electric Cloud Customer Summit? Meeting and speaking with dozens of happy customers. I always leave the summit energized and invigorated, and over the past few days I’ve used that energy to do some analysis of this year’s event. Here’s what I found.

Registration and Attendance

Total registrations hit a record 170 this year, although only 126 people actually made it to the event. That’s a bit less than the 146 we had at the 2011 summit:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Registrations and Attendance

More than one-third of the attendees in 2012 had attended at least one previous summit, a new record and a significant increase over the 24% we hit last year. Only three individuals can claim to have attended all five summits (excluding Electric Cloud employees, of course, although including them would not dramatically increase the number):

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Repeat Attendees

Presentations

The 2012 Summit had more content than any previous year, and more of the presentations came from customers and partners than ever before. I didn’t get a chance to see too many of the presentations, but I did see a couple that really blew me away:

  • Getting the Most Out of Your Development Testing, a joint talk between Parasoft and Electric Cloud, presented a method for accelerating Parasoft’s C/C++test for static analysis. The results were truly exciting — roughly linear speedup, meaning the more cores you throw at it, the faster it will go. In one example, they reduced the analysis time from 107 minutes to just 22 minutes!
  • Aurora Development Service, a talk from Cisco. ElectricAccelerator is a key component of their developer build service, where it provides two tremendous benefits. The first we are all familiar with: faster builds improve developer productivity. The second is less often discussed but no less significant: Accelerator allows Cisco to efficiently share hardware resources among many groups, which means they’ve been able to decommission hundreds of now-surplus servers. In electricity costs alone, that adds up to savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Overall, the 2012 Summit included 29 presentations on three technical tracks, including all track sessions, keynotes and training. That’s nearly 20% more than we had in 2011:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Presentations

Origins

As usual, the majority of attendees were from the United States, but there were a handful of international users present:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Attendees by country

Fourteen US states were represented — oddly, the exact number represented in 2011, but a different set. Naturally, most of the US attendees were from California, but about 30% were from other states:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Attendees by state

Industries

Nearly 60 companies sent people to the 2012 summit, representing industries ranging from entertainment and consumer electronics to energy and defense. Here are the industries represented, scaled by the number of people from each:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Industries represented

Delegations

Many companies sent only one person, but most sent two or more. Several companies sent 5 or more people!

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Delegation sizes

Comparing the size of the delegations to the length of time that a company has been a customer reveals an interesting trend: generally speaking, the longer a company has been a customer, the more people they send to the summit:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Delegation size versus customer age

Rate of registration

Finally, here’s a look at the rate of registration in the weeks leading up the summit. At last we have a hint as to why there was so little international attendance and probably lower attendance overall: in 2011 promotion for the summit really started about 14 weeks prior, but due to various factors this year, we didn’t really get going until about 9 weeks prior to the event. For many people, and especially for international travellers, that’s just not enough lead time. You can clearly see the impact of our promotional efforts as the rate of registrations kicks into high gear 8 weeks before and remains strong even into the week of the event:

Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2012 Registration rate

The Summit Is Over, Long Live the Summit

The 2012 Summit was a great success, no matter how you slice it. Many thanks to everybody who contributed, as well as everybody that attended. I hope to see you all again at the 2013 Summit!

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Electric Cloud Customer Summit 2011 by the Numbers

Earlier this month, Electric Cloud hosted the fourth annual Electric Cloud Customer Summit. By any measure it was a fantastic success, with more people, more content, and lots of enthusiastic and intelligent customers. I thought it would be fun to look at some statistics from this year’s event.

How many people showed up?

The most obvious metric is simply the count of attendees. In 2011, there were 146 attendees (excluding Electric Cloud employees). That’s literally double the number that showed up for the first summit in 2008:

This was the first summit for the majority of those present, but a significant minorty — nearly 25% — had been to at least one previous summit. Several are “Summit All-Stars”, having attended all four!


Who presented?

Another way to measure the growth of the summit is to look at the number of presentations each year, and the proportion of those that were given by customers or partners, rather than by Electric Cloud employees. In 2011, a healthy 40% of the presentations were given by customers and partners, including two panel sessions, and a keynote from GE about how Electric Cloud enabled the transition to agile development:


Where did they come from?

The vast majority of participants were from the United States, but several braved international travel to attend. Here are the countries represented:

Within the United States, 14 states were represented:


How many companies were represented?

This year’s summit was a fantastic place to network, with nearly 60 companies represented, across a wide range of industries. This tag cloud shows the industries, scaled by the number of people from each:

One thing that surprised me is the number of people sent by each company. I expected that most companies would send only one person, but in fact most companies sent at least two. Three companies sent ten or more!


When did attendees register?

I thought it might be interesting to see how far in advance people registered for the summit. It’s not surprising that there’s a spike the week before, although the magnitude of the jump is less than I expected. In fact, less than 25% of the registrations occurred the week before and the week of the summit:


Looking forward to 2012

I had a lot of fun at the 2011 Customer Summit. It was great to finally put faces to the names of people I’ve collaborated with, sometimes for years before meeting face-to-face. And it was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces as well. Here’s hoping the 2012 summit is just as fruitful.

One final thought: if you have any suggestions for additional statistics that might be interesting here, let me know in the comments.

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