Those in the great land of the down under have been waiting for word about their own version of TechEd 2014. Though it's normally a grand event like the ones in Europe and the U.S. where geeks of all sorts gather, Microsoft is making some significant changes for the Australia version that could actually have repercussions for all future events.
Instead of a large event, hosted in a single location, TechEd 2014 Australia this year will be held as smaller events in multiple cities around the country. Instead of a weeklong tech fest, TechEd will now be delivered in two-day chunks.
Also, this isn't a one-time thing. Citing the speed of technological progression as the reason for the change, Microsoft has already started planning additional dates for 2015. The first two dates are already set with the kickoff in Melbourne on October 7th and 8th, and the next in Sydney on October 27th and 28th.
Many have voiced concerns over the change, but the majority seem to be pleased with the new format. Smaller, more focused events align better with Microsoft's accelerated product release schedules. Each event will produce new announcements based on significant changes in products. It might also allow Microsoft to produce more laser-focused events, concentrating on specific products instead of the complete, generalist package.
With the communicated changes, there arise more questions that, so far, have not been addressed. Things like:
- Will there be an Expo?
- How will the price change?
- Will attendees still receive the legendary TechEd bag?
It's also questionable as to which Microsoft RockStars will be on-hand to speak at each event. With the number of overall events increasing, it'll be tough to keep program managers and keynoters on the road all year long. So it'll be a sort of game of Russian roulette as to who exactly shows up to deliver sessions.
So, could this be the format for all of TechEd going forward? Probably not, but if Australia works out, I'm sure Microsoft will be further scrutinizing a large, single event.
With the death of MMS this past year, many side-events have started growing. Some are vendor sponsored. Some are being hosted by User Groups and old MMS community members. Why? MMS started out as a community event and many have been displeased with the TechEd-ization of the beloved event over the past few years. Once a deep technical event, delivered in smaller chunks across the globe (sound familiar?), alumni felt it had turned into a marketing and messaging circus. Many felt a reboot was needed. Start from scratch and get back to basics. And, that's what they are setting out to accomplish.
Interestingly enough, the last time I was in Australia was to speak at an MMS event.
So, the need actually exists for smaller, more focused events. The new TechEd Australia could be a huge success and if it is, expect to see similar changes across the entire Microsoft event landscape. I know, personally, the company has been looking to make some significant changes in this area and this could be the forecast of the future.
Some sources suggest that the TechEd Australia change was accidental and only the result of some failed negotiations and internal politics. Even so, I've learned that the best things in life are unintentional. I mentioned yesterday that I will be revisiting Microsoft's assault on IT in the coming days, hoping to use TechEd North America to finalize my thoughts. With Microsoft taking so many things away from IT Pros in the last year, smaller, more focused, more technical and less salesy events could ultimately help sway my opinion. Put the "tech" back into TechEd.