For the first time ever, Gartner Inc. will make every analyst session and keynote speech at its Symposium/ITxpo conference available as a live webcast for people unable to attend due to travel restrictions and concerns prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the company said Monday.
The conference began Monday and ends on Friday. Gartner is expecting under 6,000 attendees this year, down from about 7,500 last year, due to U.S. economic problems and the recent terrorist attacks, a Gartner spokesman said.
The seven keynote speeches will be available for free from Gartner's Web site, while access to the rest of the Webcasts will carry a charge. Information about purchasing a virtual pass to the conference can also be obtained at the company's site.
Monday's morning session began on a patriotic note when Gartner analyst Richard Hunter played the U.S. national anthem on a harmonica, as images of a waving U.S. flag ware projected on the two large screens flanking the stage. Hunter's performance was rewarded with applause from the audience.
Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Michael Fleisher thanked attendees for coming to the event and said that IT professionals have a big role to play in the country's recovery and continued struggle against terrorism.
"We win and the terrorists lose by our continuing to 'play ball,' by our continuing to do the important work that keeps strong the institutions that support ourselves, our family, our friends, our co-workers and all Americans," Fleisher said.
"I know that it is awkward and difficult to discuss the business ramifications of these tragic events, but this is what we must do over the next five days," he said.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush also addressed the audience and thanked attendees for coming to the show, and with their presence boosting the state's economy.
Gartner has tweaked its lineup of sessions at the show to address the interest that topics such as disaster recovery, business continuity and security have gained as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.
More information about the event is at http://symposium.gartner.com/news/.