Every year a rather large P&O cruise ship weighs anchor off the coast of Guernsey and hundreds of IT Directors are trapped on board. Unable to escape, plied with food and drink, and courted for 2 and a half days by suppliers, consultants and speakers of every variety.
It's the IT Director's Forum, and it's easily perceived as a jolly, yet while entertaining, and fun, it's anything but.
Your 15 hour day starts at 7:30 when you're informed it's time for your breakfast meeting, and ends at 22:30 when you step out of your dinner meeting. With often less than a couple of hours rest time throughout the day.
By the end of the forum you feel physically and mentally drained, but you've learnt more about the concerns and needs of the industry and your peers than you do most months.
This year was no exception; and the focus on mobile working, the wave of new devices hitting the enterprise, and cloud computing was clear.
These themes weren't just prevalent in the hundreds of supplier meetings and case studies, but were the most talked about topics round the dinner table from the many Senior IT executives in attendance.
The talks were varied and thought provoking, from Euan Semple's clear message that social networking (though he has issue with the phrase) can be a powerful force for good across our organisations, and must not be ignored, to the keynote by Donald Sull, using famous boxers and their styles to echo the capabilities of our organisations (is your organisation agile like Ali, or absorbent like Foreman?).
The case studies, such as Reed Sheard's use of disruptive thinking, innovation and cloud technology at Westmont College in America, were informative and educational (take a look at Meraki and their wireless solution).
And the keynote by Christian Gansch comparing the operation of a business to that of an orchestra, was inspirational, true, and extremely moving.
Criticisms? Well for an IT conference they could have standardised and advertised the hash tag better (#itfd #itd11 #itd #itdf11 will get you most of the conversations). Also there's an awful lot of paper, agendas, questioners, etc, that should be electronic.
And why oh why was no one tweeting!
But when all is said and done, ITDF is simply invaluable.
Roll on next year!