Last week I attended TechEd Australia in the Gold Coast. I had a great time learning, connecting, talking, networking, teaching, socialising and presenting. Having said that I left the Gold Coast both drained and a bit frustrated.
While there was a lot of content there, there was an awful lot of content that was not there. I was lucky to be one of the speakers in the UC track. There were 12 sessions allocated for the UC track. Nine were focused on Exchange 2010 and three went to OCS 2007 R2. Now, granted, Exchange is a flagship product and 2010 is an exciting release. I would not take anything away from Exchange. But OCS 2007 R2 needed much more coverage. Rewind a year to TechEd 2007 and all the OCS 2007 R2 content was still under embargo so the result of the lack of sessions at TechEd 2009 is that R2 content has not really had a good airing at a large public conference in Australia.
This is not due to a lack of speakers – I submitted two other sessions that did not make the cut. I know other external speakers who put sessions forward that did not get a slot at all. I know the Microsoft UC guys could of done more sessions. Nor is it due to a lack of things to talk about. In pulling together content for our overview session Derrick Buckley and I drew content and inspiration from no fewer that 5 TechEd US sessions! Oh the detail we could of gone into if we had had the time. Edge Services, Conferencing Solutions, Group Chat Architecture and UC Applications could all easily be sessions in their own right.
So if we need more room in the UC track (among others) and we can’t trim back on the existing content because we need that too, what’s the solution. Simple really. TechEd Australia should be five days long, like the one in the US is.
Now, I know that events cost money and extending TechEd Australia to five days would not come cheap – but there must be a way. One suggestion I would put forward would be to combine TechEd Australia and TechEd New Zealand into one ANZ event. Surely it would be cheaper to run one event for 4000-5000 people than two for 2500 each. Also with fewer flights and nights of accommodation for the US speakers that hit Australia and New Zealand perhaps we could get more US speakers out here for the same money? More days, more colleagues, more experts and more content. It sounds like a winner to me.
Now – in reality this would probably mean canning TechEd NZ and just having one in Australia since there are no venues in NZ big enough to host an event that size. I use to live in NZ and I would of crossed the Tasman to attend TechEd in Australia if need be, but I’m sure there will be plenty of naysayers. Even now, if NZ builds a venue I would happily cross the ditch in the other direction to attend an ANZ TechEd in New Zealand.
I tweeted this thought the other day and got a few comments back from people who thought two more days would be great if their livers could hold out. What say you Microsoft?