Gartner, Inc. promises to cut through the hype when it brings its IT convention to Canada for the first time next week.

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2001 Canada opens Sept. 5 in Toronto. The conference will cover six tracks: customer relationship management, IT investment, Internet security/privacy, IT management, application integration and wireless. The Stamford, Conn.-based research company holds eight such events around the world, but country manager Albert Motz says the conference has been tailored for Canadians.

“Within those track we do have some sessions that are focused on Canada-specific IT and business issues,” says Motz.

“I think we’re showing our commitment to the Canadian community and our clients up there. We’ve been expanding aggressively. We’re doing that through launching a well-branded event there, but customizing it with Canadian-specific IT sessions,” adds Kathy Foreman, vice-president Symposium programs and executive events at Gartner.

There will be more than 30 sessions at the three-day assembly targeting anyone involved in the development or execution of IT strategy. Foreman says it has selected the sessions based on surveys of Canadian customers. She says she hopes the content will help attendees with their IT strategy and what they need to do to build their infrastructure.

Motz says it has 60 employees in Canada and conducts Canadian-specific research, and it’s these clients how have been asking for such a forum. Foreman says interest has met her expectations, but she isn’t expecting a crowd of 10,000 like Symposium in Florida. A more realistic number is 2,000, or something on par with the Australian version.

Foreman and Motz agree that the significant difference between their conference and vendor-driven ones is objectivity.

“Clients have been telling me that they attend a number of conferences and the one thing that they don’t get, and they do get with Gartner, is the really objective view of what’s going on,” says Motz.

“We’re not a vendor event, we’re not supporting any vendor. It’s an unbiased view into what’s happening in the industry. We cut through all the hype,” says Foreman.

Don’t expect Symposium to be free of vendor influence. Bill Bergen, president, Oracle Canada, David Booth, president, Compaq Canada and Frank Clegg, president, Microsoft Canada Co., to name a few are scheduled to speak.

While Canadians may be clamouring for the event, it is also a substantial business for Gartner.

“We have the largest IT conference business in the world. It’s a very profitable business for Gartner and our Symposium is no different,” says Motz.

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