08-06-2018 08:54 AM
08-06-2018 08:54 AM
My name is Josh Blalock, and I am a Microsoft MVP in the Office Apps & Services category. Specifically, though, my passion and focus is on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. I am also a Principal Consulting Engineer for CDW, where I have the privilege of strategizing with customers about how to bring unified communications to life in their unique environments.
I hale from the Tampa Bay area in Florida, so I won't complain about the 1 hour and 45 minute drive as I think about how far away so many are flying in from.
My career began in the United States Air Force, administering Exchange 5.5 servers in Okinawa, Japan, and I worked across the spectrum of Microsoft applications and servers since that time. I found a real passion area, however, once I began seeing the real power of a truly unified communications experience with Lync Server. This has led to a heavy focus on Lync, Skype for Business, Office 365, and now Microsoft Teams – and involvement in the social communities around these products has been what has kept me hooked ever since!
You can follow me on:
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their career in IT, what would you tell them?
Never presume to know everything about a particular topic, even if that is your specialty area; you can always learn more. Embrace opportunities to continue learning, no matter what level you are at in your career.
How do you stay up to date with changing technologies and updates?
RSS feeds to blog sources where you know the latest industry news breaks is helpful, but I would argue that Community is far more powerful. Staying plugged in to key influencers and hashtags on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn has been the best way for me to get the very latest news, from the individuals who live and breathe this content.
Setting aside the desire to get the information as it breaks, meetups and User Groups are a great way to get caught up on pertinent updates while having the opportunity to ask the industry experts questions in person.
How has IT changed since you first started your career?
I would think that for most people, a monumental shift to "the cloud" would be the de facto answer to this question, across various factions of IT. With this shift, we see a lot more companies approaching IT as a consumable service, rather than a capital expenditure.
Companies are starting to understand that IT is far more important to the organization's success than it was once thought to be; a strong IT strategy can make or break a business in today's competitive market.
What advice would you give to a first-time Microsoft Ignite attendee?
PACE YOURSELF. You will be tempted to pack your schedule as tight as possible to get the biggest bang for your buck. This approach, however, will not only leave you flat-out exhausted, but might not even be possible. Putting a session in EVERY spot on the Schedule is likely not feasible due to the sheer amount of walking between locations. Do you best to weed out anything but the most desirable sessions and remember to leave plenty of time for the Expo Floor!
What are you packing for Microsoft Ignite?
A cowboy hat, cowboy boots (do not as I do!), jeans, and only a couple t-shirts (you can accumulate an entire weeks' worth of swag t-shirts if you try). Backpack is not necessary, as Microsoft usually issues you a bag during your Swag pickup (SCORE!).
Why should people follow you for Microsoft Ignite coverage?
A quick visit to my Twitter feed or YouTube channel during the timeframe of the last couple of Microsoft Ignite conferences will reveal that I try not to miss a beat when it comes to Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams announcements. If Microsoft Unified Communications (or shall I say Intelligent Communications) is your game, I am one of the key guys to tune into!
08-06-2018 10:18 AM
08-06-2018 10:28 AM
Thanks, Harjit! I am super excited for the opportunity, but also slightly nervous - you guys set a high bar last year!