To Meet Or Not To Meet?4:29 PM EST Fri. Sep. 14, 2001
Industry events and meetings were abruptly suspended last week as people struggled to cope with personal losses and transit shutdowns during the terrorist crises in New York and Washington.
At least two meetings ended with the fiery blast of a commercial jet crashing into the World Trade Center. Compaq and Accenture were co-sponsoring a financial technology conference, organized by Risk Waters Group of London, on the 106th floor of the North Tower when the hijacked planes hit. At press time, the companies reported that 114 people remained unaccounted for, including 12 Accenture employees and 16 Risk Waters staffers.
Rev. Gerard Durley of the Providence Baptist Church in Atlanta offered prayers to N+I attendees last week.
At three other events,Networld Interop in Atlanta, CTIA's Wireless IT conference in San Diego and the Compaq Enterprise Technical Symposium 2001 in Anaheim, Calif.,the shocking news disrupted activities. Solution providers scrambled to find rental cars to drive home, and some vendors rented buses to transport staff and customers.
At N I, vendors such as AT&T and Novell packed up their exhibits. Facing a room full of journalists last Tuesday at 9 a.m., just minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Novell executives proceeded with their long-awaited launch of NetWare 6 but quickly folded up shop after the press conference. At press time, a few Novell employees working in the Wall Street area remained unaccounted for.
Some N I attendees expressed confidence that the federal government will punish those responsible for the attacks. "There's going to be hell to pay for these people," said Drew Wahlberg, a consultant at Varberry Associates, Atlanta.
Last Tuesday, Ken Sauter, Northeast vice president at Sun Microsystems, was scheduled to hold a town hall meeting with channel partners in Burlington, Mass. But the gathering, along with another event scheduled for last Thursday in Somerset, Mass., was cancelled.
Sun also postponed its iPlanet Partner Conference and iForce Partner Summit 2001, scheduled for this week in Orlando, Fla., a company spokesperson said. At press time, the events hadn't been rescheduled.
In an e-mail to attendees, Gary Grimes, Sun's vice president of U.S. partner management and sales operations, and Barbara Gordon, iPlanet's senior vice president of worldwide sales and operations, said the events were postponed in the "interests of partners and employees." They also cited the government's air-traffic shutdown, which affected travel plans.
Jim Quasius, vice president of operations at Gateway Computer Associates, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Sun solution provider, said he's not surprised that Sun postponed its events.
"When you're at war, you have to change," Quasius said, adding that the postponements will affect business. "I had meetings taking place there. I also wanted to hear about the new stuff," he said.
Air travel difficulties and attendee concern about the terrorist attacks also led the to the postponement of XML World, scheduled for Sept. 17 to 20 in San Francisco. An XML World spokesperson said the event had not yet been rescheduled.
And Greenville, S.C.-based ScanSource cancelled its biggest annual event, the ScanSource Empowerment Conference, scheduled for Sept. 16 to 19. ScanSource uses the event, held in Greenville, to discuss solution provider strategies.
Not all events were postponed or cancelled, however. The Storage World Conference, scheduled for this Friday in San Jose, Calif., is slated to run as planned, organizers said. ScanSource wireless product training events on Sept. 24 in Denver and Sept. 26 in Phoenix are also still slated to run as scheduled, a company spokeswoman said.
HEATHER CLANCY, PAULA ROONEY, LARRY HOOPER, JENNIFER HAGENDORF FOLLETT & KRISTEN KENEDY contributed to this story.