I wanted to drop a quick note down to say how great the recent International SharePoint Conference has been.
Once again, organised by Steve Smith (@SteveSmithCK) and Zoe Watson (@ZoeWatsonCK), with the help of many others I am sure, from Combined knowledge, the event went without a single hickup and contained many fantastic sessions. The quality of the speakers and sessions just gets better and better every year. Once again we are asking the question “How can we better it next year?” If I know Steve, he’ll find a way!
Even the quality of the conference bag that are a free give away are the best quality I have ever had. The number of cheap rucksacks I have sitting at home is huge, but these Swiss branded bags are the quality I would (and have) bought myself!
The International SharePoint Conference is a superb opportunity to link up with other influential SharePoint people from all around the world, with a large speaker continget from the UK and overseas (America, New Zealand, Holland amongst) the differing views are a true compliment to the multitude of ways the product can be used to solve business requirements.
Which neatly brings me on to the new Business Track. I think this went down very very well and I attended a number of the sessions. Over three days this track followed a fictitional company FIZZ Oil through the complete project lifecycle from asking “Why do we need SharePoint” all the way through requirements, build, Governance to the Project Launch Party. They even had bottles of Champagne at the end to celebrate the launch within the company! Well done to Andrew Woodward (@AndrewWoody) for organising that many characters into a comprehensive and coherent series of sessions.
As usual, the Developer, IT Pro and Information Worker tracks were world class. And the Case Study track gave a really great view on the Real World aspects of SharePoint from the ground. There are far too many speakers to mention them all here, but rest assured, every one of the presenters stepped up to the challenge and spent a lot of time ensuring their content was spot on, relevant and full of information that the delegates can actually take back into their own companies and make a difference.
One of the concerns I have as an organiser of the SharePoint User Group is that a lot of the content just cannot be presented in a detailed enough way in 1 hour sessions. So Steve has very wisely recognised this and a number of the sessions in this Conference were spread over 2, 3 even 4 sessions to show the true depth these topics require. Some of these even crossed track and speaker boudaries to show projects being handled, for example, by the Information Worker guys and girls to do the branding, then on to the Dev Track to be integrated into a Web Template, etc.
There was a pretty hardcore SharePoint Environment set up, that would rival a lot of companies Production SharePoint Farms, available for the presenters to use for their demos. I was even told that the search server was tuned so well (too well) that some demos didn’t work because the indexing couldn’t be made to go slow enough to show what was happening under the hood!! That’s what happens when you get people of that top calibre together to build your demo environment.
As for my session “Using Informationm Architecture to Liberate Your Content” I was very happy with how it went. I got a good discussion going in the room based on my ideas, hints, tips and experiences which is always good. I manage to learn new things myself, even as a presenter! If you were in the session, or see it on the DVD, I would love your feedback and suggestions of what you found useful and how you think I can improve in the future to ensure I get the best message across.
There is always a small (ahem) social side to the Conference and this year didn’t dissapoint. SharePint on the Monday night, sponsored by Lightning Tools, is a good attempt to see how many geeks you can squeeze into a single pub and one way to get to know the delgates and speakers a little bit more. The Conference Party was held in the very swanky Cafe De Paris club on Leicester Square with the using stilt walkers, dancing girls and bands. The drinks might have been a little on the expensive side, but hey, your in Leicester Square! I caught up with some older friends and made some great new friends whom I hope will become older friends in the coming years which is always nice… and messy! It was great to see so many people who come to my North West SharePoint User Group making an appearance and showing the South that there is something North of the Watford Gap!
So, with the dates for next year already set: April 15-17th 2013 (http://www.sharepointevolutionconference.com/) you should get in early and book your tickets as soon as you can to avoid missing out. I know it sounds like I am giving us all a big slap on the back, but I truly think it actually went that well! If you missed it, please go next year.
It’s work every single penny and you won’t be dissapointed.
Tweet me @MarkStokes to share your experiences of the conference, I’d love to hear your thoughts.