Northern California Oracle Users Group (NoCOUG)
Oracle ACE blogger Chen Shapira listed her eight good reasons for attending NoCOUG’s spring conference on May 21 at the CarrAmerica conference center in Pleasanton, CA. She forgot two other reasons. She’s a member of the board of directors of NoCOUG and we might throw a hissy fit if she misses a conference. Also, the food is always good—I have it on good authority that we’ll be serving a hot lunch of Chicken Marsala and Pasta Marinara at the spring conference. Here’s a picture from the last conference.
Keynote speaker Tom Kyte (center) and NoCOUG members hamming it up for the camera at NoCOUG’s winter conference in February 2009. NoCOUG director of conference programming Randy Samberg is as pleased as punch. (Picture by Chen Shapira)
NoCOUG, of course, is the Northern California Oracle Users Group. We’ve been around for more than twenty years and had 500 members last year. We organize quarterly educational events (conferences) which attract an average of 175 attendees each time. We also produce a very good Journal even if I only say so myself—I’ve been the editor for four years. Here is the cover page of the latest issue.
I’ve often wondered why we don’t attract more attendees; our attendance and membership levels have been stagnant for years. According to Wolfram Alpha which debuted today, there were 32,950 computer programmers and 11,480 database administrators in the state of California in 2007. Oracle reportedly has a market share of almost 50% of the database software market and we can only assume that only half the number reported by Wolfram Alpha live in northern California. We are still left with a target audience of more than 10,000 Oracle professionals. This means that less than five percent (1 in 20) are members and less than two percent (1 in 50) attend our educational events.
I cannot believe that it is the lack of value for money that affects membership and attendance levels. An annual membership costs only $95 and includes free admission to all four conferences—with continental breakfast, hot lunch, and afternoon snacks—and a subscription to the NoCOUG Journal. The conferences are full-day events with three parallel tracks offering plenty of choices to attendees.
Perhaps the internet is slowly making us obsolete. When I was learning to be an Oracle database administrator a long time ago, all I had was printed copies of the Oracle manuals which I had to share with everybody else in my department; conferences were therefore the only source of alternative information. Today, the internet and Google put information from all over the world at our fingertips.
You are probably reading about NoCOUG for the first time; this means that we might benefit from a stronger marketing effort. But I believe that the real reason for NoCOUG’s stagnant membership and attendance levels is that that too many of us discount the importance of networking with one’s fellow professionals and keeping abreast with the latest technology trends .
Here are some more pictures from past conferences.
Winners at the free raffle at NoCOUG’s summer conference in August 2007; prizes included books, e-books, DVD players, gift cards, a Sony PlayStation, and a full pass to Oracle OpenWorld 2007, worth more than $2,000.
NoCOUG directors Jen Hong and Randy Samberg man the book giveaway at NoCOUG’s fall conference in October, 2007.
2007 NoCOUG board of directors. Back row, left to right: Jen Hong—Secretary and Treasurer, Lisa Loper—President, Roger Schrag—Director of Conference Programming, Eric Hutchinson—Webmaster, Randy Samberg—Track Leader, Hamid Minoui—Training Day Coordinator, Naren Nagtode—Director of Marketing, Joel Rosingana—Director of Membership, Darrin Swan—Vice President; Front row, left to right: Iggy Fernandez—Journal Editor, Nora Rosingana—NoCOUG Staff Member. Not pictured: Hanan Hit—Track Leader, Diane Lee—Vendor Coordinator and IOUG Representative.