Two weeks ago, the conference I’d been helping organize came to fruition and was held here in Sydney over two days – 16th and 17th June. The conference has since been referred to by many as one of the best and most successful SharePoint conferences ever held! The conference, in its first year here in Australia, had in excess of 600 attendees, it attracted speakers like Arpan Shah from Microsoft in Redmond, Todd Bleeker from Mindsharp (USA), Michael Noel (USA and author of the upcoming SharePoint Server 2010 Unleashed book by SAMS) and numerous other well known and respected international and national SharePoint experts and speakers. Delegates who attended the event travelled from all around Australia, including Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra.
Debbie Ireland – SharePoint MVP from New Zealand (SPEvents) – was at the helm of organizing the Australian (and New Zealand) event/s – this year also saw the second New Zealand conference, held over in Wellington the week prior to the Australian conference, and which saw a 25% increase in attendance on last year’s conference! Debbie, and her team from New Zealand, did an absolutely outstanding job in organizing the conference, conference logistics and behind the scenes project management – it was a pleasure to meet and work with them – and I look forward to working with them and supporting them in future like endeavours. It was also a pleasure to work alongside the other conference organizers (both Australian and New Zealand), including James Milne (Brisbane), Mark Orange (NZ) and Brendan Law (Melbourne).
We had a fantastic line-up of sponsors – we also received favourable feedback from delegates on our conference sponsors, including the fact that exhibitor stands were easily accessed throughout the conference and session breaks. See the conference sponsors page here: - http://www.sharepointconference.com.au/sponsors.htm. Plus, a huge thank you to those sponsors who provided the prize draw prizes for both Day 1 and Day 2.
So, what made the conference a success? I believe the fact that (1) we (the key organizing team) all worked as a team – with a shared vision - from the outset and throughout the 6-7 month period leading up to the event; (2) we are all SharePoint experts (or SharePoint subject matter experts and actively working with (and in) SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 and related technologies), so we had a good feeling for the market and what people would be interested in, and we carried out market research from the outset; (3) we had a good assortment of topics and allocation of speakers; (4) we included a number of tracks to suit all audiences, including business, technical, Voice of the customer (real-life implementation scenarios) and vendor-specific sessions – this attracted a diverse group of people – many from the same company/ies who saw having the multiple tracks of real benefit - including System admins, developers, designers, business analysts, project managers, CTO’s and CIO’s and other business stakeholders – having such a diversity of tracks and people allowed for cross-pollination and sharing of information all at once!; (5) it was a ‘community focussed’ event and we had the SharePoint community behind us who greatly promoted the event and provided support throughout the two days, with the likes of a User Group Community Booth (the go-to spot for SharePoint questions and post-session follow-up) which was manned by the Australian and New Zealand SharePoint community throughout the entire conference; (6) We had Microsoft’s full support, both as a sponsor and as a community-focussed supporter, from the outset; (7) the venue – the Hilton Hotel – was the perfect venue, in terms of location, rooms and comfort – I constantly heard very positive feedback about the food – FOOD is an important part of any IT event! (8) The sponsor/exhibition area was well laid out and easily accessible to delegates throughout the conference; (9) the Ask the Experts panel – this was a great way of winding up the conference on the final day and we encouraged several international and local speakers to get involved and to include a good cross-section of SharePoint skills – including admin, developer and infrastructure.
This post is by no means the first, or only, post-conference write up. We’ve (the organizers) received numerous congratulatory e-mails and feedback; I’ve included a couple of links below:
Craig Bailey (@craigbailey) – convenor of the popular ‘Sydney Business and Technology user group’ and who attended the conference - provided a great post conference review - http://www.craigbailey.net/australian-sharepoint-conference-review/ (thanks, Craig)
IDM – our media sponsor and partner throughout the conference – also wrote a good post-conference review - http://idm.net.au/article/007910-australia-sharepoint-conference-schedule-return-2011 - interestingly, this article cites the percentage of female conference attendees at 25% - a vast (and welcomed) contrast to that number usually seen at IT events.
Also, a big thank you to Rose Stamell, Microsoft, for organizing the wrap-up networking drinks for MVPs and Speakers at The Hilton – it was a nice way for the conference speakers to reflect on the conference and discuss SharePoint goodness. Plus, a big thank you to Emantra Hosting Solutions (Australia) – and Mark Rhodes – for providing and hosting the main MYSPC SharePoint 2010 site used throughout the conference and provisioning and hosting the individual delegates trial SharePoint (server) 2010 sites.
Well, what about next year’s event? We hear you and planning is already underway for next year’s (2011) Australian SharePoint Conference. Thank you to all those conference attendees who completed the preferred conference location survey during (and post) the conference – even those who cheekily completed the survey multiple times! J At this stage, Sydney is the favoured location. In terms of next year’s conference dates, based on feedback received from this year’s event from Microsoft, sponsors and delegates, next year’s conference looks to be 8th and 9th March, 2011, at The Hilton Hotel. Keep an eye on the conference site – http://www.sharepointconference.com.au for further updates. Now is the time to start planning to attend! Also, if you are interested in attending next year’s New Zealand event, then keep an eye on the New Zealand conference site – http://www.sharepointconference.co.nz – for updates, including dates and location.
If you are interested in speaking at next year’s conference, then initial speaker interested is being captured via http://spevents.co.nz/AUSPC2011/default.aspx - simply visit the site and complete the Speaker Registrations survey by clicking on the link in the left-hand column. Similarly, if you are interested in speaking at next year’s New Zealand SharePoint conference, then visit http://spevents.co.nz/NZSPC2011/default.aspx and complete the Speaker Registrations survey.
Hungry for more SharePoint information now? In terms of other SharePoint events happening between now and next year’s SharePoint conference, here’s a list of some of the events happening here in Australia:
SharePoint Saturdays Australia: Sydney (7th August - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/sydney); Canberra (18th September - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/canberra); Melbourne (16th October - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/melbourne) – they are FREE but you need to visit the registration sites shown in order to register for each event.
SharePoint Saturdays globally (some of these happen as online events!) – see http://www.sharepointsaturday.org for a full listing of SharePoint Saturday locations.
TechEd Australia – will include a number of Office and SharePoint tracks - http://australia.msteched.com/ - up on the Gold Coast again this year (2nd year running at the same location!). Don’t forget about user group registration discounts for TechEd AU - if you are involved in a UG then you should ask your UG leader for further details. Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year’s TechEd due to a number of existing Sydney-based commitments.
Office DevCon, Sydney (will include both Office and SharePoint tracks) – http://www.officedevcon.com.au – FREE plus a two-day weekend event – but you must visit the registration site in order to register for the event so we can properly cater for all for both food and space.
Australian SharePoint user groups – see http://www.sharepointusers.org.au/default.aspx - for a user group location near you. SharePoint user groups are a great place for meeting other SharePoint enthusiasts and experts!
SharePoint MVP online chats hosted by Microsoft – these chat sessions happen on a monthly basis (as of writing this blog post) – see details of the latest chat session - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepoint/archive/2010/06/17/live-chats-to-learn-more-about-sharepoint-with-the-mvp-experts.aspx – and are a great place to ask your SharePoint questions, ranging from administration, development, infrastructure and design.
SharePoint 2010 MSDN forums – a great place for asking (and answering) SharePoint 2010 questions - http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/sharepoint2010.
SharePoint 2007 MSDN forums – questions and answers specific to the SharePoint 2007 versions - http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-AU/category/sharepoint
PLUS, Microsoft has announced their SharePoint 2011 conference, happening over in Anaheim, California, in October, 2011 - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepoint/archive/2010/06/08/save-the-date-sharepoint-conference-2011.aspx.
2010 – it’s a wrap!