I wrote this blog post a few weeks back now, but “lost it”… I figured the information is still relevant so I’d post it anyway.
I’m due shortly to fly home to Australia for Las Vegas. I’ve been here now for 8 days, a little longer than I should have due to a planning mishap on my part. I wanted to put together a few thoughts on the event, the people and the location for reflection. For those that did not come – well – you missed out on a great event. Make sure you book in early for next year (no that is not a paid comment) 🙂
The Event. SMBNation 2009 was for me the best ever SMBNation event. It felt to me that the vibe was back where as in previous years it felt flat. The vibe comes from the people attending, presenting, organising and sponsoring the event. Susan and I were the tech chairs for the GeekSpeak track and whilst Harry had his own ideas on what should be in it, he gave us great flexibility to “make it our own”. Susan and I set about creating a track that would help resellers of all sizes understand the current and future technologies. We reviewed the submissions and then went about dragging in various resources to build the track that you all saw. We hope we identified areas that people did not know existed such as the “Alternates to Microsoft” track that Eriq Neale presented, or the “Migrating to Windows 7” track that Mikael Nystrom ran. I think that one of the best attended sessions was the “SBS Migration Strategies” with Jeff Middleton and Karl Palachuk which was both insightful and a riot – the only thing missing from it was the boxing gloves and the bell 🙂 Also we had two Aussies presenting this year – myself with Dana Epp about Virtualisation in the SMB space, and Robert Crane with his SharePoint specialities that got rave reviews. I have to say too that normally when I come to SMBNation, that I learn very little. Such was the quality of the sessions delivered by the GeekSpeak track that I learned a heap!
The People. The people that attend an event really make a big difference. With things like TechEd, or Partner Conference, I tend to find that the attendees keep to themselves more so than at an SMB focused event like SMBNation. The amount of information sharing was fantastic. Also the vendors that were at the show were really SMB focused – some of them were products I’ve never heard of and now I’ve got some interesting work to do in Australia to see if some of these products have a place in our market. The presenters made themselves available and I saw and was involved in many discussions that went beyond the things we discussed in our presentations that added great value all round.
The Location. The location in Las Vegas was fine with me – I heard some people express concern over the hotel rooms, but mine was fine. The conference rooms were all good except for the underestimation of the power of the GeekSpeak track and it’s room being a long narrow airplane style room which made it very hard for both presenters and attendees. Internet access was also very frustrating for both attendees and the presenters and I think this is an area that needs to be resolved for next year. The rooms were all in one area which made it very easy for us to get around and having the hotel rooms close to the conference itself was very much appreciated.
Harry and the Team. Harry, Cindy, Jenny, Patti, Julie (and other nameless faces) that did everything to make this work well. I’ll ensure I bring more Caramello Koalas for the girls as a reward for the hard work they did. Harry – thank you for having the balls to pull this event together in a time when the world wide economy is struggling. I believe that the investments made in the SMB space will reap rewards in a massive way as the economy picks up for everyone.
The last thing I ask everyone who attended (me included). Spend a few minutes each day this week reflecting on something new you’ve learned over the conference. Make sure you write down your plans and then stick to them. Take the business cards you gathers from people and ensure you stay in contact with them. And finally – join the online community and continue the discussions with the people you’ve met there. You can find out more about the online communities at www.sbsfaq.com/helpme