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Microsoft’s Next Big Conference

Back in July, Microsoft announced that there will be one big unified technology event for enterprises, and it is going to be held in May in Chicago.  This conference is supposed to replace several different conferences that you may have been to before:

  • SharePoint Conference / Office 365
  • MS TechEd
  • Exchange Conference (MEC)
  • Lync Conference
  • Project Conference
  • Microsoft Management Summit (MMS)

Earlier this week, I had an amazing opportunity.  Microsoft invited me and several other community influencers to Chicago to talk about ideas for this new conference.  They included influencers and MVPs who have been to one or more of the aforementioned conferences, as well as about ten Microsoft folks.  We all arrived on Sunday, and had meetings Monday and Tuesday.

First, we took a bus to the event location, McCormick Place.  We got a tour of the venue, and then we went to a meeting room and went straight to work.  Here is a photo of my SharePoint friend, Naomi Moneypenny, and I looking at an event being set up in one of the expo halls.

What did we do in our meetings?  Basically, Microsoft asked us a *bunch* of questions.  They want to make this conference the best it can be, so they took a lot of notes on the ideas and brainstorming that went on.  They asked us questions like:

  • What has been something about a previous conference that you liked and would like to see return at this new conference?
  • What new ideas do you have about things you may have never seen at a conference and would like to see?
  • What makes a conference “cool”?
  • What kind of session builder / content is important to you?
  • For someone who has never been to a Microsoft conference, what would be some driving factors that would bring them in?
  • SOCIAL – we had a lot of discussions / ideas about how to involve people socially, bringing in ideas of things that went well in the past, and trying to get people engaged who wouldn’t normally be.

That first evening, we all went out to dinner and then went to the John Hancock Observatory, AKA 360 Chicago.  We got to do the Tilt, and then had a nice little reception and dessert.  Here are a couple of pictures from that:

The next day, Tuesday, we had more roundtable discussions, and we did some photo and video shoots as well.  My crappy little camera phone doesn’t really do it justice, but Rick Claus took a ton of pictures with a really nice camera.  Who were the other participants and influencers?  Let’s see, I’m just going to list them by twitter name here, you know, since we’re all so social…

@NickLagalante @Begley_D @joeysnow @RicksterCDN @Golnaz89 @MichaelBender @Pluralsight_Ed @fabianwilliams @nmoneypenny @meetdux @ToddKlindt @_JoeKelly_ @expta @Ladewig @Hoorge  @JasonSherry @tompacyk @larryla @Hfitz11 @MarkDeFalco @olafhubel

Sorry if I’m missing anyone.  I just grabbed these out of my twitter stream/mentions from those days.  In counting the people in the above photo, I’m clearly missing some names. 

Anyway, so what next?  Microsoft is going to continue to keep us engaged, and updated.  They encouraged us to tweet and blog about this roundtable.  Also, you can use the comments area here on my blog if you have any input around any of the topics / questions that I mentioned above.  I’ll be sure to send your feedback right to Microsoft! (my blog comments are moderated, of course)

There were so many amazing ideas and super smart people, that I could go on and on, but in general THANKS MICROSOFT for wanting our feedback, and I’m excited to see what comes out of all of this.

10/22 update: Microsoft announced the name of the new conference last week! Microsoft Ignite! Registration is open!

11/24 Update!  Call for topics!  This is a survey.  Microsoft is asking ALL OF US what content we want at this conference.  Please make your voice heard here.

See you there!!

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