On the floor at FOSE (tick, tick, tick)

FOSE

How to make the most of your time with the show's exhibits and sessions

On March 7, more than 20,000 federal employees will descend on the Washington Convention Center for the 30th edition of FOSE, featuring some 185 education sessions and a floor full of booths staffed by IT companies. Over three days, you can see the latest and greatest wireless gadgets, servers, storage arrays and other devices. You can hear about everything from enterprise architectures, RFID and Defense transformation to the principles of better management.

But you can't do it all while standing on one foot. So how do you make sure that you'the busy federal employee'optimize, strategize and maximize'even synergize'your time at FOSE?

You can't spend 72 hours camped out on the convention center floor, living off booth candy and the odd free meal. I know. I've tried it and it's not an ennobling experience. So here is a guide for those who have a short time each day, or one full day, or just a few hours to spend at FOSE.

First, some of the basics. The conference, which is sponsored by GCN's parent company, PostNewsweek Tech Media, starts Tuesday at 9 a.m., with the opening keynote by Robert J. Stevens, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp. The exhibit floor opens at 10 a.m. and stays open until 5 p.m.'a full hour later than it did last year. The gathering ends Thursday afternoon with an assortment of educational sessions, including a 'sneak peek' at Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows edition called Vista.

This year, the show planners have added 85 educational sessions to last year's total of 100 and five new pavilions on the floor to go with the Defense and Homeland Security pavilions.

The new pavilions cover radio frequency identification, human resources, enterprise, data center storage and intelligence.

Additionally, FOSE has partnered with the Telecommunications Industry Association for an assortment of educational sessions, including forums on voice over IP and municipal wireless deployments. InfoComm, an association of audio-video companies, will discuss how to deploy secure visual communications over IP networks and how to use audio/visual control systems.

And of course, the General Services Administration will host its training sessions on an assortment of topics, including how to use the schedules, E-Buy and how to prepare a quality IT offer.

For the third straight year, there also will be a two-day career fair, featuring private-sector companies looking to hire federal employees for IT positions.

With all this to do, where do you start?

Tuesday

This is probably the best day to hit the exhibit floor. Get there early if you want to talk to company reps about their latest products and services. The show's energy is building, and the people who come just to collect the free gifts haven't attacked the booths yet.

One tip: I like to walk the entire exhibit floor and check out where the companies are, then backtrack to the ones I definitely want to meet. That way I don't waste time in one area of the floor while missing another area with companies that interest me more.

Tuesday also features a keynote speech in the Enterprise Pavilion by the Office of Management and Budget's chief architect, Richard Burk. He'll discuss making the agency enterprise architecture more useful. Before your eyes glaze over at the thought of it, Burk does a very good job using plain English to describe the impact of EA and its importance to IT and program managers alike.

Over in the DOD Pavilion, Defense officials will discuss their closely watched business transformation program. In the Homeland Security Pavilion, Scott Hastings, CIO of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system, will provide a program update.

Wednesday

Keynoter John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems Inc., should be well worth hearing. Cisco is one of the companies whose products will be involved in changing the way the government works over the next decade'from IP convergence to IP Version 6 to VOIP.

In the Defense Pavilion, an afternoon session will focus on electronic health records. Also in the afternoon, the CIO, Chief Acquisition Officers and Chief Human Capital Officers councils will be holding updates on their progress. Included in these sessions is an OMB update on the Lines of Business Consolidation efforts. So no matter what your focus is'IT, acquisition, HR'you will be able to get a better understanding of what these councils' priorities are and what they have accomplished over the past year.

Thursday

If the last day of the show is your first day of attendance, don't feel like you've missed all the good stuff. Retired Navy Capt. Michael Abrashoff, author of It's Your Ship, will talk about his leadership experiences'particularly, taking over a destroyer with an inefficient, disgruntled crew and turning it into one of the Navy's best ships.

There also still will be plenty of educational sessions in the pavilions and from GSA, and the exhibit floor remains open until 3 p.m.

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