Fall Ahead! Office 365 Conference Wrap-Up

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wp 20151004 12 18 28 proStory by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

I’ve escaped again. The post-Fall collapse that has afflicted my

amazingly hard working staff has them taking a week off to recharge. But I’m online and ready, able and willing to report to you how the 13th annual Fall Conference changed.

Student / Teach Ratio

If the mark of a good educational experience is small classroom size so you get the teacher’s attention, I’d offer our 300-person show (in-person and online) is right where we want it. I repeatedly heard how meaningful conversations were cultivated in our three-day “Jam Session” format. Craving anonymity? Then we’re the wrong conference and I’d suggest you consider DreamForce held just before our event in San Francisco with over 115,000 attendees LOL! We’re good for making connections surrounding targeted content that this year included Office 365, Azure and Windows 10.

Disturbing and Disruptive Content

One of our speakers, Karl Palachuk, who always seems to be everywhere, likes to often repeat one of my keynote lines that conferences should be disturbing and disruptive. Hopefully we met our goals in spades there. The technical content, always the most well attended sessions, was delivered from a non-blue badge independent vantage point. Our technical content, led by Robert Crane and Grant Thompson, is our core asset in the SMB technology event field populated by one-day money-makers and booty shakers (you know who you are). The business content that I directed is a whole ‘nother story. My belief, as a weekend conference, is that the business track should be viewed as a three-day Executive MBA retreat. I specifically write content that is focused like an academic major, in this case Lead Generation/Management/Scoring. So over our long weekend you are immersed into a single topic that I don’t think is being well covered in other venues. For example – we went deep into predictive lead scoring. Boom!

I certainly didn’t make any friends with my keynote. In my sermon, I shared research I’ve conducted over the summer gathering facts from numerous sources such as extensive vendor interviews, reading research reports and talking with MSPs and CSPs. Invoking a fire-and-brimstone delivery method, I revealed the declining IT value chain. Work that MSPs and CSPs used to perform for $5.00 can now be accomplished automatically for a net cost of $0.50. So, I preached that you must repent and CUT COSTS because you can’t increase revenues fast enough. Cloud changes everything, and is causing a fundamental reset. You must terminate your staff of $100K server-side MCSEs and use cheaper faster contractors from WorkMarket or Odesk to perform the monkey work. SkyKick affirmed some but not all of my thinking in its keynote where it presented a pathway to recurring revenues. I guess that’s a nicer way of having this conversation than my fire everyone on Monday mantra.

Did I mention that conferences should be disturbing and disruptive?

What Others Are Saying

Our publishing partner Channel Pro covered the event here and Rich Freeman made the following, very well-written contribution: http://www.channelpronetwork.com/article/smb-nation-2015-spend-less-sell-more-survive-cloud?utm_source=cpdirect&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cpdirect10082015

Channel Pro also had a fly-by post-up concerning the conference here: http://www.channelpronetwork.com/news/smb-nation-2015-taking-place-redmond

Robert Crane, one of our leading speakers, opined here: http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/10/office-365-nation-wrap-up.html

Should there be another Fall conference next year?

The beautiful thing about a digital life is that we can solicit your feedback very quickly. Years ago, when Apple bailed on MacWorld, the CEO of IDG held a community meeting at the event seeking input about the future of the show. I’m doing the same using different tactics. My talented staff at SMB Nation can continue to add value to the community in a variety of ways. But is a three-day destination conference the proper way to achieve this goal? (Contrast it with having a traveling one-day road show, as an example.) Lemme know!