Living it up at SPTechCon Boston 2011

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[This post has been updated June 5, 2011 to correct some errors that an alert reader has pointed out to me.]

OK, granted, it was my own fault for coming to this, a mistake I am not likely to repeat.  You go to enough conferences, and sooner or later you make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows how to put on an event that isn’t lame.

Here is my current view of SPTechCon Boston, 2011:

What – no coffee available before the first keynote of the morning?  None of those conference area stands would have coffee until 10:45, because after all, what makes more sense: providing coffee at 9:25 a.m. before the keynote, to get everyone jazzed up, or just having the coffee stands out to show people what they will be able to get in another hour or so?  Hey, and providing outlets to the seating area of the keynote is just not as easy as nearly every other conference would have you believe.  Can’t people bring their own 28′ power cords?

OK, this one is my bad – since the registration desk did not provide me with the WIFI code when I checked in, I made the mistake of assuming hoping expecting that it might be would be provided in the event brochure.  Oh well, it was nice of the registration desk to provide it to me somewhat grudgingly after the Keynote, which isn’t quite standard or best practice, but hey better late than never.

I had plenty of time to figure it out anyway, because after the Keynote my Analyst / Press credentials allowed me NO access to any part of the event for the next nearly four hours after the Keynote.   When I asked the Registration desk if indeed my interpretation of things was correct – that I was to sit around and wait nearly four hours until I was allowed access to any other part of the event, I was told that this was indeed correct.  (What the heck, the parking is only costing me $35 while I sit here waiting to use my event credentials in the meantime.)

So in the past five (5) hours, this is what I have learned:

  • SharePoint has been out for 10 years.
  • SharePoint brings in more than $1.3B in annual revenues.
  • The product brings in $6B of partner revenue.
  • There are 100M licenses outstanding.
  • There are 17,000 enterprise customers.
  • Oh – and this is what the inside of a hotel looks like:

But wait – the exhibit doors have opened!  Recess is over!

Ah, the revelations and insights that must await me inside these exalted doors!

I would say “More to come”, but, really, folks, this is not likely.

Oops – almost forgot: I did catch one of the flying monkeys during the keynote, while drinking my coffee – without spilling a drop.

Microsoft flying monkey

What more could an Analyst want?


  1. Ruven Gotz says:

    Hi Bob,

    I will state up-front that I don’t know what you were told/given/sold that gave you access to the keynote, so it’s quite possible that you didn’t get what you were expecting. And, full disclosure, I was a speaker at this event, but not otherwise connected to the organizers.

    I was disappointed to read your account of this event: I spoke to many attendees who thought that they had received great value. I attended many sessions and often had a tough time choosing between several excellent speakers. The issue of coffee before the keynote didn’t apply to the rest of the attendees, as they had been provided coffee by the organizers at breakfast and the break times were noted in the program. Power and internet connectivity was an issue in some locations (rooms), but worked fine (with multiple power bars) in others.

    One of the strangest things about your piece was that you kept bashing Microsoft for all of your perceived issues. Microsoft was just one of the many sponsors of this event, but it was not presented by Microsoft. As a researcher and analyst, it felt to me like you’d missed an important element of where you were and who you were reporting on.

    I guess the real question is: Was your ‘press’ credential supposed to give you full access to all sessions, or just the keynotes and exhibitor floor?

    I have attended or spoken at a number of SPTechCon events and I find it to be a well-run conference that fulfills its prime purpose: Putting experts in-front of people seeking information and knowledge. This makes it anything but ‘lame’.

  2. Ruven:

    Thanks for your comments, and for taking the time to contribute.

    I was clearly told that “You may attend all events, such as Lighting Talks, keynotes, the attendee reception etc., but are not allowed to sit in on workshops and/or technical classes. Please let me know if there are any questions.” This email came to me from the “Conference Coordinator” (with no company affiliation provided to indicate the company or organization issuing press / analyst credentials to me.)

    So while there was no misleading me as to what the Press / Analyst credentials entitled an Analyst to attend, there certainly would be no expectation that an event – that I was clearly attending for the purpose of covering it and reporting on it – would deny Press / Analysts access to all parts of the program for nearly 4 hours in the middle of the day.

    There are obviously different types of events: Conferences, end-user training events, workshops, etc. (I will not attempt a full event taxonomy here.). I would not pretend to think that all events are alike.

    There is, however, regardless of this, simply no excuse, in my opinion, for an event organizer to not understand the Press and Analyst communities, to understand their own self-interest in providing Analysts with a pleasant, productive experience, and to know how to structure the event in such a way that serves the interests of the various constituencies and makes efficient use of their time.

    The Press / Analyst is there to cover the event and the subject matter of the event. Putting a nearly 4-hour hole in which you are not allowing them access to any part of the program seriously compromises the very reason the Analyst is attending the event.

    This is not rocket science (or news) for the vast majority of event organizers.

  3. Ruven:

    Thank you for the very important notation that this SPTech event was not a Microsoft event. I should have been clearer in indicating this. I will update the article to make clear that the event organizer is BZ Media, and that BZ Media is the appropriate target of my event criticisms. I do apologize to Microsoft Corporation for any undue criticism that it appeared I was misdirecting to them.

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