As a team who (used to) regularly speak at conferences or while creating engaging online technical content for various platforms – we thought we’d try something a little different. Talking with folks online to collect their feedback and taking stock of what the rest of the technical event space has been doing over the last year – let's all acknowledge one thing: there is room for improvement.
As a team - We’re going to try to do something about it. I’m here to share what we’re planning and how you can get involved and participate. It’s a little moment in time we’re calling “IT Ops Talks: All Things Hybrid”. You might have seen the team tease some stuffout about it recently, well now it’s time for the full deal – or at least as much as we want to share with you today. ;)
I thought I would kick off a series of posts about why we are doing this and how the event will take place. In this post, I’m going to have a look at what we’ve heard over the last while regarding online events and what we’re trying to do.
First off - the topic. “All About Hybrid”. Microsoft has been building out a broad platform in the hyperscale public cloud space that any workload can thrive on. I’ve been talking about Microsoft Azure from an IT Pro / Operations perspective for over 9 years and watched it evolve to meet different customers' needs. But I started to think about what part is often overlooked with most “cloud projects”? As a team, we started to poke around and ask folks in the community: What’s missing? what resources aren’t there right now? What we’ve come back with is “it depends”. Most cloud projects or cloud strategies would benefit from enabling Hybrid planning and how you can use them to solve problems you have on-premises today. Most times, folks just think hybrid is about establishing a secure link to your cloud provider and then poof you are done. There is so much demand for resources about hybrid capabilities we decided to shine a light on it. We’re focusing the discussion to talk about all things hybrid to make your on-prem world better.
As for the specifics on what we’re going that’s different than any other online event? Does any of this resonate with you?
Online event sessions are too short. They shackle the expert from being able to present at the depth we’re looking for.
Events are scheduled at a time that is not convenient for me. I can’t take time off work to participate. I lose focus or get called away and I don’t have the ability to pick up where I left off
I really miss the connectedness of having hallway conversations or discussions / questions about the topic in question. I don’t need to ask a question right now, but I do want my questions answered at some point.
You’re one of the 20% of attendees who actually want to ask a live question at a microphone stand and talk to the speaker directly. How can I do this in an online fashion?
I don’t want to get a whole bunch of marketing emails or calls from folks because I signed up and registered for the event
This is a lot to unpack, so let me do my best at answering most of these.
There is substantial data we’ve looked at saying that shorter is better for the attention span of most folks in the industry (and in online content in general). While this is true on the one hand, it also hinders the ability to have those longer format depth sessions folks are looking for. What if we turned this on its head and didn’t have a limit on length for this topic from speaker [insert speaker name here]? BUT – instead of using a traditional “presentation” format or monologue, let’s go with a more interactive interview / audience advocate to help break things up into shorter chunks. This should give the presenter someone to engage with as well as someone to act as a guide to help the audience follow along with the flow and jump to sections, they find relevant.
We’re all dealing with challenging schedules and times that we try to separate between Work / Home / SELF. Why be constrained to a clock and consecutive sessions to make an agenda, when the most common and flexible form of video consumption is on-demand. What if an online event released ALL the content right at the start – all at the same time as a content release? Have a point in time and then let YOU the audience decide which sessions are interesting for you to watch and YOU choose when you watch them based on your flexible schedule. You can see from the session details which ones are interesting to you as well as fast forwarding to sections you really want to hear about or rewinding to see something again.
If I have the ability to watch on demand, whenever it suits my schedule – but what about interacting with someone on the topic being presented. Where do I ask my questions or geek out about a cool demo that took place? Don’t worry, we got you covered here too. We are going to try using a live 24-hour FOCUSED chat channel that opens the same day the session becomes available. As you are watching the session – you can fire off comments, observations or ask questions whenever you like inside this channel and other attendees will be participating in the same channel (on their own schedule) to interact with you. We’ll seed the channel with experts on the topic as well the speakers themselves so that we can literally be there with you in the hallway – talking about the topic.
You want to ask questions and get them answered in real time by the session speakers. I am the same way. Remember - we’re limited to the time zones that work for when the speakers are awake, so we do have some hard constraints. We’re planning on releasing the content at a single moment in time. You can asynchronously engage with folks / speakers on that topic leading up to a dedicated set Q&A time that will hit at least two major time zone areas to maximize audience coverage. We’re going to set this to be one week AFTER the release of the content so that everyone can take the time to catch up on their homework before showing up for the dedicated Q&A timeslots. These will be live hosted chats, taking live questions from the audience watching as well as some of the top questions from the session discussion areas.
Registrations are for traditional events and follow up content / product leads. What if we just didn’t have a registration process and left this wide open for anyone to participate? We are focusing on getting the right speakers out to deliver the right content that matters to you. We’ll be including all the relevant resources for each session with you in each of the session write ups. – what else do you need if you have all of that?
I hope this covered the WHY we’re doing this and the WHAT with regards to how we are approaching this. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now with regards to getting this all nailed down and ready to go. You might have guessed from the teasers leading up to this – the MAIN EVENT will be taking place on February 2nd.
What can you do right now? Well, I would normally say “go register” but that doesn’t work for this event. How about you SHARE this blog post out and talk about it with us here in the comments. Is this something you have been waiting for? Are we way off base or completely missed something? Anything in particular you would like to see?
I’ll have more details to share next week about the topics we’re covering and pre-recording for the main event.