I spoke at the National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment (NCOF) last week in Las Vegas. As most of us suspected it would be, attendance was WAY down, and the exhibit hall had only a skeleton representation of about two dozen vendors. Even though I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the attendees (I spoke to a dozen very interested professionals on the subject of Mobile Commerce -- see Forum post above), it is still clear that the future of the conference is in jeopardy. The fact that for the first time in 20 years the conference program and Website failed to announce the site of next year's show was a strong indication that there may not be one.
Jim Tierney of Operations & Fulfillment/Multichannel Merchant magazine has a good blog post on that - check it out.
It was I, in fact, who suggested that the NCOF might become a members-only organization (which Tierney mentions), like the B2B Roundtable used to be or the Young Presidents Organization still is, where members must attend at least 3 of every 5 meetings, come prepared to make a 10-minute presentation and get feedback from the group on it, and have this group serve as a kind of mentoring/sounding board.
On the other hand, I had a chance to meet and talk with Larry Kimmel, the new CEO of the Direct Marketing Assoc. about the future of not only the NCOF but of the DMA in general. I found him open-minded and eager to get the DMA into the mix of where multichannel marketing is headed. That's a tall order, though. I myself find it hard to know which way the wind is truly blowing. And there are issues like privacy and data security that may prove difficult to get out in front of (the PCI Data Security Council is having a tough time dealing with mobile payment applications - see this report from Internet Retailer). For some of my comments on those issues, see a recent post on this blog. And as always, I invite your ideas and feedback.