There was a lot of debate about the level of attendance at Convergence, the Microsoft Dynamics user conference being held this week in New Orleans.

There was no doubt that attendance was down from last year's more than 9,000 or the roughly 10,000 predicted by the show's exhibitor prospectus, which was prepared in better times not that long ago. Someone who is usually well connected with Microsoft executives said that the total was 6,800, probably a good-enough figure.

But that didn't mean it was a bad show. In fact, some exhibitors on the Expo floor said booth traffic was good and visitors qualified. It's possible that I talked only to the lucky few. But it is not likely. And you can substract perhaps 1,000 to 1,300 Microsoft staff from the total of those interested in buying from exhibitors.

So why should these vendors be happy?

I believe it is because the economy weeded out the tirekickers. The end users that showed up had the money to travel and probably the money and need to buy software.

This might suggest Microsoft and other companies that hold user conferences change how they run these events. Should they continue to take money from all comers? Or would the the hosts and their exhibitors be better off if there was some way of selecting those who truly need information and have a reasonable chance of purchasing products. That would require removing some corporate egos that seem driven by the bigger-and-better approach.

It's worth considering a philosophy of "Only the serious need apply."

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