By: James Parrish, Lenny Chesal, and Joe Monaco
The ITPalooza event is scheduled for December 4, 2014 at Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences. In just its third year of existence, the annual gathering of technology groups has become one of the largest technology events in the region. This year, the organizers are anticipating more than 2,000 registrants who will attend daytime presentations and training from over 60 speakers on a wide variety of technology related topics, learn about the 50 plus technology groups representing themselves at the event, enhance their career options at the ITPalooza hiring fair, and enjoy the evening holiday celebration featuring a live band comprised of local IT Professionals.
On the surface, the event seems to be all about the local technology community getting together for a day of education and fun. However, we at the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) believe it to be much more. We feel large technology events such as ITPalooza and the eMerge Americas Conference to be held in April 2015 are opportunities to demonstrate and enhance the strength of the tech ecosystem in South Florida, which is central to the SFTA mission to enable the present and shape the future of technology in the community that we love.
ITPalooza, perhaps more than any other event, is representative of this community. Everything about the event, from the planning, to the selection of topics and speakers, to the event operations and entertainment is carried out by a group of dedicated volunteers from the technology community who share a passionate belief that South Florida can become a technology hub comparable to California and the Northeast. Yes, the event might be for attendees and technology groups in South Florida, but the audience who will be paying attention to ITPalooza is much greater as evidenced by the number of media outlets that covered the recent press release from October 28th entitled “Today, Analytics is King.”
The attention ITPalooza has received presents an incredible opportunity for all of us involved with technology in South Florida. As was the case with the first eMerge Americas conference, a well-sponsored and well-attended ITPalooza will send a signal to the rest of the nation that South Florida has a strong technology ecosystem where business, education, and government have all aligned to create an environment attractive enough to entice investment from outside our area, but also to retain the talent we are producing within. However, whether or not the South Florida technology community can capitalize on this opportunity is the question. Unlike the ITPalooza event, this opportunity can’t be carried out by a small group of dedicated volunteers. It is going to take involvement from the entire community.
Therefore, we at the SFTA are putting out a call to action. We need the support of everyone that loves technology, the technology community, or the community in general in order to make ITPalooza a success. Your support could come in many forms from becoming a sponsor, to giving your time as a volunteer, to simply registering for and attending the event. Every bit of support will help ensure the message we want ITPalooza to send will be heard loud and clear (like the rock and roll band). The South Florida technology community is our community and ITPalooza is our event. Please help us to leverage the opportunity we have to strengthen both for all of our benefit.
James Parrish is an associate professor of information systems at Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences, Lenny Chesal is the CMO of Host.NET, and Joe Monaco is the Director of Florida/Gulf States sales for Earthlink. All serve on the Executive Committee of the South Florida Technology Alliance (www.southfloridatech.org).