Now that it’s February, I feel I can write about business trips again. 

One of the first on our calendar is the Gaming Technology Conference (GTC), which we will hold next month, March 17-19, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Here are five reasons why we think you should join us:

1. The most comprehensive technology program anywhere. GTC features18 breakout sessions conducted by more than 50 high-level gaming executives, including many of the industry’s top technology minds, focused on three core areas:

• IT—Sessions include: Which Cloud is Right for You?; Cyber Security – The SUPERNAP; IT Service Management and ITIL; System Integration – 360 Degrees; Emerging Technology and Partnerships; and Lower My Operating Costs with New Technology.

• Executive Leadership—Sessions include: the CIO Roundtable; Technology Leadership – Where’s the Next Generation Going to Come From?; The Art of Getting the Money; Strategic IT Planning; Marriage Made in Heaven – IT and Marketing; and The Problem with Regulators.

• Marketing—Sessions include: Getting Connected/Staying Connected; Digital Marketing Update; Big Data; Where is My Data and Who Owns it?; iGaming/Social Gaming and the CMO/CIO Roundtable.

2.  Impressive keynote speakers. There will be three keynoters at GTC:

• Bill Schmarzo, EMC CTO, enterprise information management & analytics practice;

• Tim Huckaby, Microsoft RD & MVP, CEO - Actus Interactive Software and founder/ chairman – InterKnowlogy; and

Ramesh Srinivasan, president and CEO, Bally Technologies.

Schmarzo, who will deliver the opening keynote, is known as the, “Dean of Big Data,” and has authored, Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business. He is consulting CTO to EMC, and former VP analytics Yahoo and Business Objects.

Huckaby is focused on the Natural User Interface (NUI)-Touch, Gesture, and Neural, in rich client technologies like HTML5, Silverlight, WPF, & IOS on a broad spectrum of devices that include computers, tablets, the Surface, the Kinect, and mobile devices. He has been called a “Pioneer of the Smart Client Revolution” by the press, and been awarded many times for his highest-rated technical presentations and keynotes for Microsoft and many other technology conferences around the world.

Srinivasan of Bally is very well-known to the gaming industry as both the leader of one of the industry’s top game and system suppliers and as one of the most compelling and practical-minded speakers in the business of regulated gaming and wagering. His closing keynote address will be called, “Five Ways the Industry Needs to Prepare for the Gamer of the Future.”

3. Andrew Cardno’s opening-day workshop on how to see and use your data. The CTO of BIS2, Andrew is known to many of you as one of the best presenters in the industry on the topic of business intelligence and gaming analytics. In this opening-day, three-hour workshop, he will dig into on the topic of “Overcoming Information Overload: Best Practices in Data Visualization in Gaming,” or, as I put it, how to make the needles bigger and the haystack smaller.

Casinos, as we know, have never lacked for data, and its supply is increasing all the time. Data visualization software has for years offered operators the chance to access actionable information in user-friendly formats, but it’s not enough to simply invest in the software with the expectation that all problem-solving will be automated. In this intensive workshop, Cardno will take you through real-world business situations that can be optimized through the use of data visualization software.

4. Richard Schuetz session on “The Problem with Regulators.” More on that on page 10, but who better to take us through how we can help gaming regulation keep pace than Schuetz, the current California Gambling Commissioner and former top-level casino executive. We had him keynote at Casino Marketing a few years ago and he brings a unique and profound understanding of this industry to attendees.

5. Claudia Winkler, president of GHI Solutions, who puts it all together.Claudia put together our highly-rated conference last March, is back as our content director. We survey attendees at all of our events and the overall satisfaction rate last year was over 90 percent, our highest ever. Claudia, as many of you know, brings decades of operator experience across multiple departments and a deep understanding of technology to the table.

 The full conference program, as well as information on how to register, is available at www.gamingtechnologyconf.com. Hope to see you there.