The highlights, lowlights and bright lights of a Vegas SharePoint conference
Vegas days are like dog years – they require a different scale. Getting through a day deserves the same respect as getting through a week anywhere else.
SharePoint Conference 2014 attendees were asked to get through at least five days and nights in Vegas. Now, once more for scale, a week of SharePoint happenings in Vegas leaves the same wear and tear on our minds and bodies typically reserved for a whole month of shenanigans.
To start, your diet changes. Gone are your responsible three meals a day – replaced by a “grab-food-when-you-can-get-it” mentality that makes scheduling a meal difficult. But it’s not all unhealthy – remaining on your feet for 15 hours a day sheds the calories that are typically untouchable sitting at your desk in the office.
With SharePints, Welcome Receptions, ClubSPCs, SharePints, Vendor parties and more SharePints, your liver is often startled by all the newfound attention it’s getting, albeit unwanted attention. Moderation (a word cast aside by the majority at these events) is your only saving grace. And knowing when to walk away is steady advice that carries over as well to those so inclined to have a bit of a gamble on the casino floor.
So with vices all around, how does one focus on the task at hand – the SharePoint Conference?
Well, despite activities around every corner, they mostly all gravitate around SharePoint and networking within the SharePoint Community. SharePoint is a team sport and the Community is built around like-minded people from all over the world getting to know each other and, not just having fun with each other, but also helping to fill in the gaps for each other as needed. This can be done by being a trusted advisor or consultant, a vendor with a useful resource, or by presenting a possible partnership.
I happen to be a big fan of the Community and do my best to immerse myself in the nightly happenings as well as remain a useful resource by day at the booth.
Speaking of, Fpweb.net brought a new booth to SPC14. Gone was Boothzilla, the two-story giant – replaced by a slightly more useful booth that brings the upstairs’ comfort of Boothzilla down to the exhibit floor where attendees could enjoy them as much as we did. Thanks to a Charging Station and some comfortable furniture, anyone was welcome to lounge at Booth #2014 for as long as they needed to rest those feet.
Our caricature artist was a hit and I still am amazed how he was able to highlight everyone’s features to make a quick, accurate cartoon version of us all. (Although my nose is not as pointed as my caricature would lead you to believe and, as the weather warms up, I’ll do what I can to trim back the chubby cheeks.) Nevertheless, on evening events in the exhibit hall, the line to get drawn tended to hold steady at 10-15 people deep.
And while we’re on evening events, having three social hours in the exhibit hall was a pleasant surprise and seemed to draw large crowds. Despite the noisy MySPC that made conversations difficult, I think I was able to sell a bit of our managed SharePoint services just by dancing for attendees.
On Monday, our CEO Rob LaMear ran a session on the executive track entitled “The Tipping Point Between On-premises and the Cloud” (his blog is coming soon) which attracted around 400 attendees. His talk helped you discover what may be leading or keeping you away from the cloud. And one of his slides had a picture of Mr. Bean in it…
All in all, it has been very interesting to see how the conversation has shifted from SPC to SPC. My first SPC conference was in Anaheim in 2011. The majority of conversations began with “We aren’t going to the Cloud.” In Vegas’ 2012 conference, those conversations had grown more welcoming of the cloud and most were going to be trying out Office 365. By SPC14, those same conversations had shifted to how they could get more customization and control out of the cloud model – which made for a perfect segue to our dedicated SharePoint solutions.
Now, as these SharePoint conferences are wont to do, let’s give out some awards:
MOST OFTEN ASKED QUESTION AT SPC14:
“What’s the difference between you guys and Office 365?” A question we had anticipated and even added to the booth. The difference: Total server control, unlimited customizations, knowing where your data lives, an average six minute ticket response time, free SharePoint migrations and more…
As we said on the booth, it’s what makes us, us.
BIGGEST HIGHPOINT OF SPC14 FOR ME:
I helped Jill Kunkel present our Partner Luncheon on the Wednesday afternoon. Despite being the type of person that never shuts up, I managed to work up a few nerves before the session started. Once the light turned green though, we managed to convey our partnership program in an easy-to-digest and even humorous way. Thanks also to help from Ken Lo and Tony Smith, two great Fpweb.net partners, we received some solid feedback for which we are very grateful, and we have been able to start some great conversations as a result.
Thanks again to all who attended!
BIGGEST LOWPOINT OF SPC14 FOR ME:
When I got turned away from the Keynote… Getting up early isn’t easy in Vegas, especially when you don’t have to. I was patting myself on the back the entire way to see Bill Clinton on Monday morning, and hadn’t even considered that my Exhibit Hall Only pass was going to keep me out. It did. After being told I could not enter, my heart was further broken as I was informed that no, I could not have any coffee either. Live and learn.
BEST EVENT FOR ME:
Metalogix’s Best of Breed party. I’ve been to Club Marquis in the Cosmopolitan before, and the way they rebranded that club to be a SharePoint party was just damn impressive. Well done to all involved and the other sponsors who took part.
WORST SPONSORSHIP OF SPC14:
Fpweb.net having the misfortune of choosing MySPC for our sponsorship… A sponsorship that would place our logo (known to the SharePoint community as a trusted SharePoint hosting provider) on a site that would break throughout the entire conference and lead everyone to believe we hosted it.
While we were upset that we had to use so much of our time explaining that we didn’t host the site (and maybe next year Microsoft will consider letting us), I’m still grateful that you all asked us rather than just assumed so that we could set the record straight.