I wanted to share my key learnings from Microsoft Ignite 2015 event in Chicago. This was the first attempt to combine multiple different Microsoft product lines as I wrote in my previous blog entry. Now the question is: how did Microsoft do? I did participate in the first main keynote that was pretty long and extensive and with an audience of +20k people. The setup was amazing. The keynote with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and many others really gave the reasons why Microsoft has this new format for the conference. I gave my feedback of the conference to Jari Kotola from Sovelto in an interview (in Finnish). It is clear to me that Microsoft has to move from “product line specific” conferences towards conferences where multiple different technologies are integrated. When delivering sessions globally in software related topics, I typically emphasize the need to create effective consumable APIs (application programming interfaces) that enables the development of composite solutions. What Microsoft brings to the table is the platform and software vendors (ISVs) bring the additional tools that one can use to create different types of focused solutions.
A good example of this is BPA Solutions that has created a bundle of 30 enterprise ready SharePoint web parts that enable power users to define and create different types of business solutions in an effective and more rapid way. One can say that BPA Solutions has built an abstraction layer on top of SharePoint that enables the creation of relationships (one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many) in a way that is not possible with SharePoint unless you put a lot of money in custom development. It was clear to me during the conference that the new web part bundle is what organizations and development partners want to see and the rich ecosystem of Microsoft partners provide services that enable this.
I was mostly spending my time in the expo area (which was huge) and especially in the Office 365/SharePoint section with tens of other ISVs. When talking to both attendees and expo vendors, the size of the conference was something that everybody was pondering about. Having more than 23k participants to move from one place to another is a challenge and the amount of available session content is also huge. However, I really think that Microsoft does not have a choice not to consolidate these different conferences to one. Organizations and ISVs need to explore how adjunct technologies are used to create new innovative solutions. Software vendors and developers that ignore to renew their perception on how to create new generation software apps will eventually find out that their skills are outdated and irrelevant. Each one of us has to continuously develop our skills and to make sure that we stay on top of the game in whatever we do. This applies especially to me as well as I educate software vendors and end user organizations in different topics and for me to be able to teach, I have to know the topics myself. I even wrote a blog entry about my personal fear of becoming irrelevant.
I heard that Microsoft has agreed to do Ignite again next year so if you did not make it this year, you should definitely do it next year. I am sure that Microsoft also learned lots of things in this conference so some of the kinks that people might have experienced, are gone next year. My next big conference is Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 (WPC2015) in Orlando, Florida (July 12-16, 2015) where I will be a speaker as well. If you are a Microsoft partner and have not booked your participation yet, it is time to do it. It is the most important conference of the year for Microsoft partners.