Full disclosure: This recap won’t speak to the sessions and announcements made by Microsoft at the conference. I spent way too much time shooting basketballs at our booth to make it to any sessions, plus Microsoft highlights the sessions and recaps nicely, so why try to top it?
Instead, I’ll speak to my experience last week in Chicago as an Ignite Sponsor/Exhibitor, and why I can never get enough of the SharePoint Community (and their parties).
Bringing Professionals Together
Well, we certainly learned that whenever you bring together 15,000 professionals working within a myriad of IT and business positions all over the world, they can inevitably come together over one topic: not liking the food…
Yes, unfortunately Microsoft dropped the ball in this area, but we’re not here to focus on the negatives (though I will say one more thing before I drop this topic: quiche does not belong in a box lunch – if you were even fortunate to get a box lunch before they ran out – if one should even be expected to have a box lunch at these things…) Okay, let’s move on!
Wearing St. Louis Cardinals Gear at Wrigley Field
For Fpweb.net and a handful of partners, our week started on Sunday afternoon with a special event at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were playing the Brewers, and we were saying thanks to our friends who have worked some opportunities with us through the years. Anytime you can involve baseball with work, you’re winning – even if it means having to see the Cubs play.
I will say that this experience wearing a Cardinals shirt in Chicago trumps the time in college where I almost had to battle the entire Cubbies fanbase in what would have been some kind of twisted, baseball version of the scene in Kill Bill: Vol 1 where Uma Thurman battles Lucy Liu’s Crazy 88’s. But I digress. We had a great time, and it was brilliantly organized by our Director of Channel and Alliances, Jill Kunkel!
The Exhibit Floor
I knew before the conference started that if I didn’t properly stretch before each day, I wasn’t going to make it.
I don’t know if you guys were tracking your steps, but we were and, between us, we averaged about 15,000 steps a day at the conference. Granted, most of that was basketball involved, but if you were going back and forth to sessions you probably hit 20K a day at least. That place was huge.
Swag Gets Thrown Away
If you stopped by the Fpweb.net booth, one of the first things you were greeted with was that message. Yet no swag hunters were dismayed.
Why? Because we tried something different – something I hope catches on and is everywhere at the next big conference. Rather than give out little pieces of plastic with our name on it, we decided to donate to charity each time we scanned a badge.
If that’s something that appealed to you, please direct all of your thanks to Charity: Water.
What an amazing charity that not only gives 100% of the funds they receive to the field, but also continues to draw back the curtain and place full transparency on their actions so you can see where your money is going and who it is helping. We’re humbled every time we visit their website.
Hoop it Up
Before you heard about the donations and before you probably even got a chance to read our booth to see what it is exactly that we do, you most likely saw myself or a colleague shooting hoops on the side. And there’s a pretty good chance you joined in.
As a last minute addition this year, we decided to add a small backboard to the side of our booth and had a few balls designed with our logo to shoot with. The game was simply to make a shot from the free throw line and you’d be automatically entered to win a Bose Bluetooth Speaker at the end of the day. With a new winner each day, it was a fun contest that helped us meet a lot of fun people – including this winner:
— Fpweb.net (@fpweb) May 7, 2015
But it wasn’t all easy times at the booth…
Okay, maybe it was.
The Rise of Administrative Support Services
We’re no stranger to talking about our dedicated, private cloud services for SharePoint. We’ve been in the SharePoint hosting world since it was created back in 1999, but this year another topic stole most conversations: Purchasing administrative support services in convenient hourly blocks.
And while most conversations began with, “Well, that’s what I do so I’m not interested,” that quickly shifted when we explained that we were freeing them up to work on the core parts of their business rather than spend all of their (expensive) time putting out fires and fixing/maintaining everything at all hours of the day.
We have regular Admin Support packages for businesses that need help throwing expertise at their SharePoint deployment, and we also have Enterprise Admin Support packages for partners looking to resell the service. I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that this dominated our conversations. It’s truly a service that can find a unique place within each organization.
And the Parties…
My name is Peter, and I like to party.
If you’ve been around SharePoint in the last four years and have made it to the big conferences, there’s a decent chance we’ve met or you’ve at least seen me in the background demanding that the DJ play anything by Will Smith (even though he never listens…)
I’ve always considered the SharePoint Community to be a friendly, entertaining group that enjoys a good cocktail. Where else can a complicated platform like SharePoint have it’s name so cleverly twisted into the infamous SharePint? This year, I met some more great people who I had a blast talking and laughing with most nights.
At Ignite, I enjoyed, as always, the Welcome Reception where attendees were able to add a few lagers to their conversation and open up about their SharePoint (and sometimes personal) needs. This year that was immediately followed by a massive SharePint at the Virgin Hotel (compliments of the overachieving Bill Baer, sponsored by AvePoint and Fpweb.net and DJ’d by Chris Givens (who should immediately claim the DJ name, Chris Spinnens – okay, not my best work…)
Tuesday night, you had your choice of the AvePoint Red Party or the Metalogix Party. I chose the former – or should I say, the former chose me – where attendees were treated to a great night out at House of Blues.
Fpweb.net had our team dinner Wednesday night so I can’t comment on what conference events happened that evening, and since we had to catch flights out on Thursday after the exhibit hours finished, I didn’t even get to see one of my favorite bands, Fall Out Boy, perform at the attendee party. Jill attended and was nice enough to share videos via text with me (because everyone who’s missing the concert loves when their friends do that…)
See You in Chicago Next Year
Looks like Microsoft has locked down the McCormick Convention Center for the foreseeable future and next year it’ll be the same bat time, same bat channel for all your Microsoft Stack conference needs. If we didn’t get to share a conversation (or a drink) this time, I look forward to catching up at the next one.