By John Filippis, Strategic Engagement Manager, Quorum
Let me put this on the table first…I love summer and I love the beach.
To be even more specific about it, I love the amazing golden sun drenched beaches of the Gold Coast. There is something up there in Queensland which makes the whole beach experience somewhat surreal. The perfect weather, the relaxed temperament of the people, the meter maids and the never ending golden sand that stretches out to the horizon just like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. On any given day with some luck from the Gold Coast gods, you can rub shoulders and share an espresso with the likes of Margo Robbie or Jordan Belfort in a Broadbeach coffee shop.
It’s a special place for sure.
So you can imagine my excitement when on a fine sunny spring day the boss told me to go home and pack my gear fast, because tomorrow the Quorum team were going to Microsoft Ignite on the Gold Coast!!
The next morning with my sunnies, zinc cream, board shorts, Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Windows Phone firmly under my arm we headed off on a Qantas flight with the Quorum crew to the newly reinvented Microsoft Ignite event, which promised a revealing look at Microsoft’s technology strategy for the future.
If you go by the copy spilling off the keyboards of IT commentators in Australia you would get a sense that Microsoft have been under fire from all angles over the last few years. It seems that many hungry competitors from all areas of the IT landscape have started to grow muscles and have started to bite pieces out of Microsoft’s pie. Some commentators even go so far as to say that Microsoft’s influence on the modern IT landscape is looking lost and tired and their relevance is fading into the rear view mirror behind these fresh, dynamic and agile young guns and their shiny new toys.
That is one perspective I suppose…
But as far as I could count there were about 2500 IT professionals from CIO’s through to the junior tech who would strongly argue that point otherwise. You see Microsoft has been really busy reinventing itself, its technology stack and its value proposition to be more “Relevant, Agile and Dynamic” at all levels with its customers. And it shows.
Microsoft Ignite 2015 this year encompassed a more interactive and diverse session format which enabled a broader perspective of its offerings over the pure technical format used at Tech Ed in years gone by. I have been a veteran of Tech Ed events for over 15 years and I can say that this year looked a little different from the position of session offerings. As is always the case there are so many great sessions that you can’t attend them all, but I was on a mission to get a broader view for myself from what was on offer.
You see it is all too easy to see the world through the same atavistic filter all the time, think “I am an Infrastructure guy, I am going to the Windows Server session, that’s what I do..” But put on a different set of “glasses” and you start to see things differently and all for the better I might add. So I selected my sessions with the view to broaden my perspectives on things I knew little about and there were plenty to choose from. I scanned my agenda and saw topics such as “Dynamic Teams”, “Perpetual Intelligence”, “Internet of Your Things”, “The Cloud that Chuck Norris built”…yes even Chuck Norris provides an alternative lens on the world these days when it comes to the cloud…I am liking this already.
With my “broader perspective” session agenda all sorted and in hand I needed two other essential survival items in hand before I hit the Ignite sessions. The first is a “punch in the face” strength cup of coffee and the second is my note taking weapon of choice. The coffee part was easy or so I thought, the coffee cart queue was longer than a line of overly eager and giggly teenage girls waiting for a Taylor Swift concert. Mental note to mention more coffee carts for next year on the feedback form..
As I waited patiently for my coffee to be poured it gave me an opportunity to observe the buzz that circulated in the transit areas of the convention centre, people were moving in all directions like worker bees in a hive. All of them carrying some form of back pack and electronic equipment to ensure that they capture, connect, exchange and pollenate via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to every other electronic device that they come across. Electronic promiscuity is a virtue here, in a way that make Aldous Huxley’s immortal utopian statement of “Everyone belongs to everyone else” in Brave New World, ring eerily close to the mark. In this era of electronic gadget frenzy, everyone needs a device to record the information that they will receive; notepads and pens no longer apply.
My many years of conferencing has taught me to “travel device light” at these events if you are to have a good experience, lugging heavy and excess equipment around is never fun. In the old days travelling “light” at a conference was a 5kg laptop (I am still getting physio on my shoulder), then we progressed to a 2kg laptop, now it’s a tablet for most people.
I however have evolved the art of conference note taking to military SAS levels where my only companion is my trusty new Microsoft Windows phone (v8.1…still waiting for v10!) with OneNote loaded and synced to my OneDrive. With this trusty companion I can take notes all day without typing much, don’t need to carry a charger, can Wi-Fi for web access, stay connected to work, take pictures, record voice and run applications. I can pretty much do everything and anything I want to from my pocket.
Surveying the foyer floor as the coffee cart lady was drawing a leaf on my latte revealed an array of people using tablets and shiny new thin laptops. I smiled smugly as these rookies lugged and setup their new tablet or thin laptop setup. It is interesting to note how big and heavy these devices are looking to me these days as a note taking machine, how times have changed.
I was getting antsy now…like a sprinter waiting for the gun..
I had my new broader perspective Ignite Agenda in hand ..CHECK,
My extra strong Latte with its pretty leaf design (I eventually made it to the “Taylor Swift concert”)..CHECK,
And my OneNote Windows Phone was charged, Wi-Fi connected and ready CHECK…
The Ignite conference bells rang bell stirring the mood of the crowd and signalling that sessions were about to Start…the swarm started to move…the worker bees were in motion…it was Go for the Show….!!
BUT you will need to Tune in next time to learn about what happened next…and you are going like it!!
Check it out…. https://msftignite.com.au/