We've rescheduled the SaaS partnership conference, SaaS Connect, to October 5-6, 2020.
I'll be reaching out to attendees, speakers, and sponsors with next steps.
Thankful for an easy decision
As the domestic data became clearer, there was only one decision. We could not morally justify putting anyone's personal health and their communities at risk of COVID-19, nor the other very significant risk of getting caught in isolation or quarantine due to business travel.
Fortunately, Cloud Software Association will survive financially. At no point did we have to trade off our viability against attendee safety, so it was an easy decision for us.
Thank you to our amazing vendors for being flexible, Bespoke, NVision Events, and ACA Video. And thank you to CSA's officers, Steven Larsen, Dina Moskowitz, and Jake Wallace who quickly helped me build a robust decision making framework and crisis response plan.
I'm also very thankful my worst day was deciding whether or not to host a room full of business people. My heart goes out to the front-line health care workers and researchers around the world who are putting themselves at risk on our behalf.
Easy, but not painless
I did not want to reschedule SaaS Connect.
At first, I didn't want to believe this was happening. I didn't want to think it was that bad. Then, convinced it was bad, I wanted to point fingers at public health officials.
I'm human. Denial, bargaining, anger are normal ways to deal with painful change. I've heard from many who are still struggling to contend with this situation.
It's ok to feel that way. You're not alone. We're all facing it together.
Let's be thankful our jobs keep us off the front line, and in most cases, give us the ability to work from home.
I prefer to view this as a challenge we can overcome, not an obstacle.
We have more to say and offer in response, but one day at a time.
Changed your travel plans?
Survey results from March 1
SaaS Connect has many stakeholders. While I was working through the implications of not hosting SaaS Connect in April, I got in front of the issue with the members, sponsors, speakers, attendees and the board.
We surveyed our members early on. As of Monday, March 1, we had a pretty clear picture of how sentiment had changed across the tech industry thanks to your survey responses (n=98, MoE +/- 10%, p=0.05).
We found 44% of members were cancelling some or all events, 24% were considering it, and only 29% were still committed to travelling. SaaS Connect faired better with 54% still committed to coming and 14% committed to cancelling, and 32% considering cancelling at that time.
Some conferences haven't cancelled. Why?
If you want to understand the behaviour of conference organizers across the world, they have 3 primary risks to balance:
- What is the public health risk? Either to personal health, community health, or the risk of quarantine or isolation while on business travel.
- Will anyone show up? How many attendees, sponsors and speakers will pull out.
- What is the downside financial risk? For conferences as a business, this could be significant loss including bankruptcy.
They are trapped between a rock and a hard place. I feel for them. I am thankful we were able to make a decision on public health alone.
Strongly advise against business events and travel
As of March 1, corporate travel restrictions were light. As the week progressed, we have seen many more companies institute travel restrictions.
We recognize we are not a public health authority. Nevertheless, the Cloud Software Association does lean strongly against business events and travel for the immediate future.
In-person events and mass gatherings are particularly risky. The excellent contact tracing of Patient 31 in South Korea demonstrated the risk of mass gatherings early on. In the United States, there have been dozens of cases stemming from the Biogen Conference in Boston (February 26).
Further, if you're away on business, you may be caught by isolation and quarantine measures. Italy just locked down the entire country. It's conceivable these measures will be adopted by other countries in the coming weeks.
Every individual and every company will eventually have to reconcile with what this situation means for them.
Let's count our blessings that this virus is easily managed with basic precautions.
Avoid unnecessary travel. Stay home when sick. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid handshakes.
And please get the flu shot. Take the burden of the seasonal flu off the health care system.
President, Cloud Software Association