A Week in Chicago for Ignite

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Leading up to Microsoft’s Ignite event in Chicago last week, there was a lot of anticipation – and concerns that there would be too little content for practitioners of any single technology. After all, Ignite was the inaugural event that combined 6 former Microsoft conferences into one, doubling the size of the last SharePoint conference alone with over 26,000 participants. And while no event goes off without any problems (the wi-fi was once again sub-par, at best) I have to say that I was very pleased with the event overall. The sessions were, for the most part, packed tight – with all three of my sessions drawing capacity crowds. I have a couple other Ignite recap blog posts in the works, so for this post I thought I’d provide an overview wit links to each of the recordings.

My first session (“SharePoint on-prem, online, and everything in between”) was in the expo hall on Wednesday, and was a 20-minute primer to the Thursday MVP panel event. The Office 365 Theater #2 included 25 seats, had over 500 people indicating interest in the topic, with 100+ people standing and watching the presentation. The session was a short recap of my SharePoint Conference session last year (“SharePoint in the clouds – select, mix, and deploy what’s right for you”), which is a link to the Channel 9 session recording. The primary message I tried to convey centere3d on slide 13 – build or buy – and how so much of the hybrid discussion is about doing what makes sense for your business, and not simply moving to the cloud because that is what is being pitched to you by Microsoft or any other vendor. My slides:

On Thursday at 9am, I gave my second session on the topic “Strategically Evolve Your Role as an IT Pro” (this is a link to my slides) to a capacity crowd. The last time I checked, there were over 1500 registrations for a room that held around 600+, which was the largest response to any of the sessions I was registered to conduct or was peer reviewing. I’ll be honest – a few folks pushed back on the fact that I was giving a talk on this topic, and that it should be given by someone who has actually lived through it. My response? While not an IT Pro, I’ve certainly hired them, managed them, and worked side-by-side them for the past 25 years, and have written and interviewed extensively on the topic. As such, my presentation was built on the comments and feedback from the community – so the guidance provided and ideas shared are almost entirely from self-designated IT Pros. And I was able to add some humor to what is obviously an important topic to many. My goal was to inform as well as entertain, so please take a look:

Also on Thursday, I was joined by fellow MVPs Dan Holme (@danholme), Laura Rogers (@wonderlaura), Jennifer Mason (@jennifermason), and Chris McNulty (@cmcnulty2000) for what turned out to be a very lively panel discussion on the topic of my expo hall session, “SharePoint On-prem, online, and everything in between” that included a PACKED room, with people living the sides, and a completely full overflow room downstairs. In fact, they had to turn people away from the overflow because it also reached capacity. What made this session special, in my mind, is that the 5 of us are good friends, and so the chemistry was strong – but the content was also outstanding, and well worth a listen:

Overall, it was a great event. And if you’re not paying attention – Ignite will be back in Chicago the same time, same location in Chicago next year, as Microsoft signed a 2-year deal with the McCormick convention center. So be sure to book your travel and hotel space early, as it will all fill up quickly – and I’m sure the event will once again sell out completely. Until then, I’ll be doing more writing on excerpts from the event, so watch for updates.

And on a personal note, I’d like to thank people within the community for stepping up to help my future son-in-law through prayers and donations. While he still remains in a light coma, he has been moved from the ICU to a rehabilitation center, and continues to improve every day. We are hopeful that he will have a full recovery, and the doctors are all very optimistic. You can continue to donate to his GoFundMe account at http://www.gofundme.com/jaredworkman

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Lehi, Utah, through which he provides fractional-CMO for partners in the Microsoft ecosystem.