As Dell prepares for its annual conference in Las Vegas, event organizers are hoping that bigger means better

Posted May 5th, 2017

When Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell delivers the keynote address at his company’s annual conference in Las Vegas on Monday, he’ll be standing on a stage in a cavernous room that seats 12,000 people — about double the size of his keynote address in Austin last year.

The sheer size of that room, and the accompanying convention space at the Venetian Hotel, is a major reason why Dell Technologies moved its big annual conference, called Dell EMC World, from Austin to Las Vegas.

Event organizers are expecting at least 13,000 attendees, up from the 8,000 that attended Dell EMC World last November in Austin. “When you get to that size, there are very few spaces you can hold a conference,” said Dell Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Burton, noting that Las Vegas offers bigger convention spaces than Austin.

Organizers of this year’s Dell EMC World conference are hoping that bigger also means better. Besides nearly doubling the attendance, Dell Technologies is offering five times as many technical training sessions and a trade show floor with double the number of vendors.

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Though the event’s attendance has steadily grown since its launch seven years ago, the main reason the conference is substantially bigger is due to Dell’s purchase of data storage company EMC Corp.

After Dell Inc. purchased EMC for $58 billion in September of last year, the company needed to merge their two separate annual tech conferences, called Dell World and EMC World.

The smaller of the two was Dell World, which had about 8,000 attendees last year. (It was technically branded Dell EMC World for the first time last year.)

These tech conferences are largely a marketing opportunity for companies, and a way to reward and woo customers and vendors.

Nearly every major tech company in the United States hosts its own conference, and many choose to have them in Las Vegas, where hotel rooms and convention space are plentiful. Las Vegas is also where the Consumer Electronics Show is held every year.

The conferences also generate revenue for the companies. Tickets cost $2,295, though there are discounts for early registration.

Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFFAudience members listen to Michael Dell give the keynote speech at the Dell EMC World conference at the Austin Convention Center Wednesday morning October 19, 2016. 

The majority of people who come to Dell EMC World are not necessarily IT buyers, Burton said. “They are practitioners, the people who don’t technically buy our technology, but they use it,” he said.

Industry analysts and the media also typically attend, and the company is expected to make several new product announcements during the conference.

Attendees will be able to take classes geared around certain tracks, such as “Technology,” “IT Leadership,” and “Code and Modern Ops.”  

“About 1,500 people from the show, they actually go home with a real certification, something they can put on their résumé or show to their boss,” Burton said.

Many of the featured speakers are from Dell’s leadership team, but the company did bring in some notable tech celebrities. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, will be speaking, as will Tim Sweeney, CEO and Founder of video game company Epic Games.

There’s also an element of tech show business to Dell EMC World, with a trade floor teeming with various tech gadgets and innovations, and a special section for virtual and augmented reality technology that attendees can sample.

The conference, which starts Monday morning, will wind down on Wednesday evening with performances from pop music stars Andy Grammer and Gwen Stefani.

“People want to have a good time while they are here,” Burton said. 

They also want to keep people at the Venetian, where the conference is held, rather than losing them to the Las Vegas playground of casinos and Cirque du Soleil shows. 

“We don’t want people wandering off into Vegas and doing whatever,” he said. 

512tech at Dell EMC World

Technology reporter Lilly Rockwell will be in Las Vegas this week covering Dell EMC World. Look for her live coverage at and on Twitter at @LillyRockwell.