Well that was quick, the CLS2013 conference is done and people have made their way home. While only an evening and a day this event was packed with some of Microsoft’s latest and greatest information kicked off with a great keynote by Leonard Brody. The night before was the social kick off with a visit to SPiN https://toronto.spingalactic.com/ for some ping pong and refreshments. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a social gathering at a ping pong hall (very much like a pool hall) but it was different and refreshing.
I mentioned before this event almost didn’t happen but it is clear with 250 people in attendance that people look forward to this event. This year was a bit different as it was hosted at the newly opened Toronto MTC which Microsoft has invested a lot of money into. The premise of the MTC is to allow customers to utilize the technology within the centre to solve business problems, a POC concept of sorts. It’s free for enterprise customers with the caveat you need to get yourself to the centre and for people out West that can be a bit of a challenge to justify that expense to sr. business leaders. Either way I think you’ll see some businesses utilize this great opportunity to solve some business problems not easily solved within an enterprises own walls.
Leonard Brody was an amazing speaker with a very eye opening topic around the next 365 days and how we are going through a “great re:write” with the way we as humans behave and consume information. We as humans produce more data in the last 48 hours than we have in our lifetimes. Just think about that for a second. That’s almost incomprehensible yet is something we are faced with and is only increasing as we produce and consume more and more data. I keep thinking about how things will change for my kids as they grow up in a world that is infatuated with data and how wearable devices are only going to contribute to this never ending trend. The last thing I’ll mention that really hit home with Leonard’s talk was that the key to the next 365 days is understanding human behavior, not technology as some may think.
There were some great sessions which allowed for a lot more interaction than last year and had Microsoft staff willing to help and assist with understanding certain technologies. I found this interaction to be much more effective than someone sitting up on a stage talking at me. Sessions really highlighted Office 365 and the interaction between email, Lync, and SharePoint. I even picked up a few things that I didn’t know that can help be more efficient with my use of Office. Old dogs can learn new tricks 😉
The one thing I get the most out of with events like this is the networking. Hands down it’s at least 50% of the value of attending leadership events like this. Getting real world examples from other peers within the industry really helps dispel some of the things vendors will say that maybe are not 100% true. Even with Microsoft framing the event, it helped to talk on things like Direct Access, Office 365, and other “work from anywhere” types of discussion.
The last thing I’ll mention and something I think Microsoft really missed the boat on, was using an event like this to get technology into the hands of the influential leaders within an organization. Microsoft should be handing out Surface Pro’s and or Windows 8 Phones to it’s enterprise IT leaders. This gets devices into the hands of influencers who can test out the devices if they don’t have them already and see if there is value there. I think its a huge lost opportunity in my opinion and one I hear was addressed in past CLS’s. I guess that’s budget cuts for you.
I look forward to attending next year and hope it’s back in Redmond which offers a much better CLS experience I think.