Sending software engineers to conferences is both a time and money expense, but conferences exists because they provide value to attendees and companies that send them. Some of the value may be obvious, some may not. Here is a list of the top business reasons to send your developers to CppCon or any other C++ conference:
- Education: There is a new release of C++ every three years. If you aren’t arranging C++ training on a regular basis, then your team is losing their edge. Not because they are getting worse at what they do, they aren’t, but because they are missing out on learning industry best practice. Conferences like CppCon are where the community as a whole evolves the definition of best practices in C++ and educates itself on best practices related to new standard library and language features. CppCon features pre- and post- conference classes for formal training workshops, but the entire conference is about learning better ways to use C++. The difference between regular conferences sessions and the workshops offered by CppCon and many other conferences, is that workshops usually feature hands-on exercises, which aids in both understanding and retention.
- Motivation: No one comes back from CppCon without being energized to write quality code and to raise the code quality bar for themselves and their team.
- Language Expertise: Don’t underestimate the value of language skills training. Unless you are in the tools business, the purpose of your app is not C++. The language is just a tool to express your team’s domain expertise, but don’t get trapped into thinking that all your training investment should be focused on domain expertise. For a team made up of domain experts, the ROI on further domain training may be lower than the return from having a few team members that can leverage the power of C++. Having a team member that understands the best way apply C++ to the problem at hand and able to quickly parse hard-to-understand compiler errors, may result in a better result, more quickly arrived at, than having yet another domain main expert with redundant knowledge.
- Recruiting: If you want C++ engineers outside your company to know you are hiring and have a great working environment, there is no substitute for sending your team members to meet them in person. Even better if they present a session that ends with a slide that says, “If you’d like to work on challenges like this with people like me, my company is hiring.” Leverage this by being a conference sponsor or exhibitor. If you hire most of your team from a particular region, supporting a conference (or local user groups) in that region will increase your recognition as a company that is engaged in the community and likely to be a good team to join.
- Morale: Sending a team member to an important conference like CppCon is a way of saying, “We value your contribution and we want to invest in you.” This will make anyone feel better about their job, their career, and you.
- Team building: If you can send your whole team, great—the shared experience will make them a better team, but that is often unrealistic. Instead, the team members that you send will share the best of what they’ve learned with formal trip reports and and informal discussions. Either way, the entire team benefits.
- Resources: The number of development websites and tools, both proprietary and open source, is growing every day. Is your team getting the best use of all of these? No, because no one can keep up with all the new tools and new features of existing tools. The best way to stay abreast on what new resources are available and get motivated to use them on your project is to see them demonstrated and speak with knowledgable developers. A conference like CppCon will features dozens of opportunities to learn about tools and engage with their developers and users.
- Skill building: Presenting technical information is an important software engineering skill that is needed by senior engineers in all companies, but growth opportunities in this area are limited in most companies. CppCon offers attendees the ability to present technical information in the main program, Open Content sessions, lightning talks, and the poster competition. Presenting at local groups and conferences an unparalleled opportunity for technical presentation skill building. CppCon offers a one-day workshop one technical presentations lead by some of the best known presenters in the C++ community.
- Contacts: When it comes time to find someone for contracting, training, security audits, outside code reviews, or anything that requires finding someone with rare technical skills, there is no substitute for having engaged with them personally at a technical event. Your own team can become your first and best resource for find special talent.
- Give Back: Your organization’s success depends upon the ecosystem of C++ compilers, tools, libraries, and shared experience to port to new hardware, adapt to industry advances, evolve standards, and developer best practices. Bring your in-house expertise and domain experience to the broader C++ community to advance the state of art for the industry and for the broader community.
Attending CppCon (or any C++ conference) is the one of the best ways for your team to support, engage with, and leverage the wider C++ community. For information about C++ conferences worldwide visit the Conferences Worldwide page on the Standard C++ Foundation’s wiki. For CppCon, register here: https://cppcon.org/registration/