Overall, the event was a spectacular success. The facilities at the MTCC are world-class. The keynote presentations and break-out sessions were all very well organized. In fact, the PowerPoint slide decks are already available online and will soon be followed by streaming video of the keynote presentations (As an aside, the SharePoint site where Microsoft is coordinating all the materials and information about the event is an example of how appropriate technology enriches and extends the experience of a single-day event like this. Thanks to the Toronto SharePoint User Group.)
In another first, bloggers could do their reviews of the event in real-time, courtesy of free Wi-Fi connections. Photographers could post photographs immediately to Flickr and tag them with EnergizeIT and see the results on the large screens in breaks between sessions. Very hi-tech, very cool, very appropriate. Kudos to Microsoft and their partners for enabling this kind of connectivity and communications during the event. (Note: some of my photos of the Toronto skyline as viewed from the Holiday Inn on King Street as well as a couple other EnergizeIT photos are here - including one of some of us WWITPRO members with Phil Sorgen, President of Microsoft Canada.)
There were a couple other innovations at the event that merit special comment and congratulations. T-Shirts for geeks (and tiny T-shirts for future geeks) were sold with all the money going directly to a charity. There were attempts to deal with environmental challenges through reducing power consumption (see http://www.bullfrogpower.ca/) and an admittedly symbolic innovation of having evaluations of the event done via online forms. I was also impressed with the wide-screen monitors placed outside each breakout session for those arriving late or who were unsure which session to attend. Great idea!
I would recommend more tangible environmental initiatives in the future, including far less vendor paper and brochures in our goody bags. I know that's what sponsors want, but how much of that material gets read before it's tossed in the garbage? I'd far rather a perpetual location like the Sharepoint site with vendor ads than having to carry that stuff around all day.
Hands-on sessions can be a mixed bag. Personally, unless the user has a familiarity already with the broad concepts and layout of the software being demonstrated, there isn't much to be gained from doing a set of exercises. The context is everything. Without that, it's mindless, numbing, and futile.
Thanks to all the TechNet, User Experience, and Developer advisor and product managers for doing this, with special thanks to the support staff who make it all run so smoothly. Thank you to Microsoft Canada for hosting an event like this. You rock, Microsoft! Special thanks to Ruth Morton, the newest IT Pro Advisor for all her help to the WWITPRO executive.
Breakfast with Phil Sorgen, President of Microsoft Canada
Originally uploaded by rtfax