During the last week of September, 2016 I attended the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta, GA with 23,000 IT professionals, community leaders and technology visionaries. I had never been to a conference like this before, and I learned a lot.
- Microsoft is cool. They are not making sleek iPhones or watches, but Microsoft software looks incredibly good, and Microsoft is working diligently and thoughtfully to connect users to colleagues and information to work more effectively in a collaborative, transparent environment. There are some very impressive things happening at Microsoft.
- Nerds love Star Wars. There were over 23,000 attendees at Ignite, and so very many
of them were wearing Star Wars shirts, getting Star Wars related swag at vendor booths, and some were even carrying around plastic light sabers. At least I think they were plastic.
- Yammer is on the right path. The enterprise social network platform will now be implementing many features that users have been asking for. We will soon be able to edit posts, move posts, make groups more accessible, and get users more engaged. New file previews, photo albums, group banners, etc. Keep up the good work, and keep those developments coming!
- 10,000 steps is a lot. I learned that 10,000 steps is approximately 5 miles. In the 5 days of Ignite, I walked about 93,000 steps, or 45 miles, or 9 miles a day. Ignite is huge, and if you are attending Ignite, you are walking Ignite. Embrace it, enjoy it, track it…boast about it!
- Swag gets old. Swag is everywhere, and it quickly loses its luster. After about a day and a half, you realize you have become a walking billboard, lugging around mugs and baseball hats you will never use and never wear. How will this all fit into your suitcase? What will you do with it when you get home? Why do I need a branded tin of mints???
- Community, is community, is community. A big conference focused on technology does not necessarily scream “warm, welcoming community!” but that is exactly what I found. People welcomed me into circles of learning and friendship. People made themselves available, and people sought me out. I felt welcomed, valued and appreciated.
- They are getting close with O365 groups. Yammer is now a core application in the O365 suite, and O365 groups will be the primary means by which Yammer connects to Outlook to Delve to Graph to Delve to Excel to Word and beyond. I hope they crystallize and clarify the language around these developments as the new functionality is rolled out, but they are absolutely on the right track.
- This was not a Jewish conference. A big sign hovering over everyone said “Did you say Pecan Smoked Bacon?”
- This was not a non-profit conference. Always free soda, coffee and juice. Dove ice cream bars at 3:00 p.m., free drinks on the exhibition floor at 5:00 p.m. Fresh fruit, salty snacks and giant barbecue turkey legs served along side corn dogs, chicken sliders and s’more ice cream cones.
- The conference continues. The conference is over, but my new colleagues and friends are still in touch. Whether posting in the new Microsoft Tech Community, on Twitter or in the Yammer Service Updates external Yammer group, we continue. We continue to keep in touch, we continue to learn together, and we continue to engage our own communities in collaboration, transparency and technology adoption.
Until Ignite 2017!