Tuesday’s FutureTech 2002 conference at uptown Charlotte’s Adams Mark Hotel captured about 200 attendees looking for something to break the regional technical freeze.

FutureTech presenters and exhibitors were able to showcase real-world examples and solutions to current problems facing local small to large companies. And that’s what techies came to see first hand at the show which was organized by the Metrolina Entrepreneurial Council.

Making this year’s show different, says MEC Executive Director Lori Antoniak, was that conference goers had a chance to interact and understand the particular business issues that decision makers deal with and match them with another individual who has solved that same issue.

“Overall, we’re pleased with the caliber of conversations and discussions that will lead to some real business interests right here in Charlotte” adds Phil Morris, MEC conference co-chair and founding partner of Mariner, a consulting firm specializing in software applications.

One segment Morris would like to attract would be the larger corporate professionals.

“We’ve had a hard time getting larger companies to come to the table, and there was tremendous how-to applications for this segment,” Morris adds. “We will look at doing additional things next year to appeal to them.”

Also at the show, Qualitech Solutions, Inc. unveiled a new product called “Executive Dashboard”. It’s basically an easy-to-use executive information management tool that facilitates shorter and better decision-making processes that translate into significant cost-savings. The program monitors key performance metrics while providing vital indicators on a single Web age with powerful drill down capabilities.

A day full of information

Representatives from both Giga Information Group and Gartner presented throughout the day. Chip Gliedman, Giga’s IT management and economic analyst, engaged the early morning crowd on the role of business value, volatility and flexibility in the IT decision-making process. Gliedman developed Giga’s Total Economic Impact (TEI) framework, which helps clients make decisions about the overall financial value of IT strategies.

The keynote presentation was led by Gartner analyst Paul Schmitz, Ph.D. Schmitz explained that there would continue to be increased pressures on enterprise-wide operating costs and budgets.

“2002 information system management priorities will focus on delivering and demonstrating short-term business value,” explained Schmitz. “CIO’s are responding to tough economic conditions with near-term focus, but they will have to position for the longer term and you must be ready.”

Morning panel discussions included Beth Hardin from University of North Carolina — Charlotte, who discussed the Institute for Technology Innovation’s efforts to accelerate the growth of intellectual capital with technology. This was followed with two breakout sessions ranging from market exchanges and infrastructure to streamlining logistics in supply chain management. The afternoon line up included breakout sessions on eLearning and information access with representatives from TrainOne and Corning Cable Systems.

Attendance was down roughly 25 percent versus MEC’s first conference last year where 275 attended. But while attendance didn’t match last year, exhibitors came to the table in much higher numbers. Exhibits in the technology pavilion numbered 26 in addition to 17 service-oriented companies. There were 14 booths sold last year, according to event organizers.

Sponsors for the event included Sun Microsystems, Corning Cable Systems, Pioneer DataComm and elogex.

For more information on MEC, visit www.mec.org