I’m mid-flight heading to the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando and anticipating the week to come.
This isn’t the first large Microsoft conference I’ve attended and I ’ve learned a few things along the way on how to get the most out of my week. The first thing I like to do is set an overall goal for what I primarily want to learn about and then focus many of my sessions and expo hall stops around that goal. There are so many sessions covering a wide-range of topics, it is easy to become overwhelmed, spread yourself too thin and leave feeling like the week had no direction and purpose.
This year, my focus will be a deep-dive on Information Management, Data Protection and Compliance in Office 365. These 3 topics cover a wide range of sessions and sub-topics, however they all have a common theme that I find myself working on with my customers on a day-to-day basis. Customers are all concerned to varying degrees about things such as data sovereignty, data security, ability to meet regulatory requirements and a myriad of other compliance needs. Although many of my clients are open to moving to the cloud, some are not. I recently worked with a client that described their organization as “abundantly risk-averse”. With descriptions like this, I find myself needing to dig in and really understand the current capabilities of the services my clients are using in this space: SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer, Teams, Groups, the roadmap of what’s to come and where the gaps lie.
In addition to this overall goal, I’ll of course be attending the keynotes, foundational sessions and some community sessions to get a lay-of-the-land for what’s new in my Professional area of focus which is: Office 365(specifically SharePoint, OneDrive, and Yammer).
One of the main reasons I like to attend an event like this in person as opposed to watching sessions remotely is the networking aspect. There are lots of other people working in the same areas as I am on a day-to-day basis and conferences like this are a great place to meet and have off-the-record, informal conversations about things we’re each working on and what kinds of things we’re struggling with. It’s an opportunity to not only ask questions but also to share your own experiences with others. I have grown professionally in leaps and bounds since focusing on the networking aspect of my career.
Last, but certainly not least is having some fun with friends I’ve made through conferences like this. Yes, they perhaps started out as professional acquaintances, but many of them have now turned into personal friendships that make events like this a lot more fun and something I really look forward to every year. I have made friends across Canada, USA, Europe, UK and Australia.
Fun side note: I recently put out a Twitter poll on what people were most looking forward to at Ignite. As you can see below, Networking/Community won out by a healthy margin. This came as no surprise to me as I feel exactly the same way.
I’ll report back at the end of the week and let you know how I made out reaching my goal.
Have you set a goal for your Microsoft Ignite week? Good luck! It’s going to be a busy and fun one.
Thanks for reading.