Note: To be completely transparent – I am pulling for Halifax on this one. I was born in Fredericton, grew up in Saint John and have a particular soft spot for “out east” or “down home” when it comes to this question.
A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I were swinging through the Atlantic Region with a whirlwind tour of 5 cities over 4 days as part of EnergizeIT. We took the opportunity to meet with as many people as possible during the structured events in the evenings, but we also went out of our way to hold informal/unstructured “meet and greet” events like ”CoffeeAndCode” in each location.
The method to our Madness was really to get out, be accessible and make some new connections as well as keeping up the existing ones. We don’t get the opportunity to get out East as much as we’d like to – we have to take advantage of every trip down that way that we can.
Not surprisingly, one conversation topic that came up a lot was “Why doesn’t Microsoft care about <insert: Halifax, St. John’s, Moncton, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Atlantic Provinces> and why don’t you come down this way more often?”. You know what? We do care, but like everyone else – we have constraints on two resources: Resources and Money. If you’ve followed this blog or know my team – we’re 7 people that cover all of Canada and our mission is to make a difference in the Canadian ICT community by being the face to Microsoft – connecting and LISTENING to you – all of you. Remember those constraints? Well, 7 people have a budget we are able to allocate to travel and expenses – and it’s stretched pretty darn thin over the course of the year. This means we have to make choices whenever we plan “what we do” and “where we do it”.
This brings me to the title of this post – “7th City for TechDays 2009 – Halifax or Edmonton?”. A quick bit of review for those not familiar with what is TechDays in Canada. TechDays was our first “Paid For” event that my team produced in Canada last year. It’s goal was to provide Technical Training to multiple geographies in Canada based on the best of the best content pulled from TechEd, Mix’08, TechReady (internal technical training exclusive to MS) and PDC. It was delivered by Microsoft employees AS WELL AS local Technical Experts (76 of them across Canada) focusing on current technologies and current issues you are facing today in your work environments. This was about as FAR AWAY from marketing as you could get and was designed to hit the sweet-spot depth of content level for 80% of the technical audience who would be attending. I said “Paid for” event – but it was setup internally to be a cost recovery conference with a modest cost of $500 for 2 days of sessions (with an early bird price of 50% off). So in a nutshell, we were bringing the best 40 sessions of technical content to a city near you where you had an a-la-carte selection of 8 sessions over two days with 5 tracks of sessions to choose from. How was it received by last years attendees – phenomenally well, exceeding our expectations. There is no way we could not do this again this year – so we are, but with a slight twist.
We’ve made all the cities 2 day cities and we’re going to most likely keep the price the same as last year ($500 for two days with a 50% savings in the form of an early bird rate). The full price and early bird discount is still not 100% official, but it is definitely looking like it is going to be in the same range as last year.
We’ve booked venues in 6 of the 7 cities. Vancouver (9/14&15/2009) and Toronto (9/29&30/2009) are up first for the month of September, with Montreal (12/2&3/2009), Ottawa (12/9&10/2009) and Winnipeg (12/15&16/2009) taking the month of December. Smack in the middle of November is Calgary (11/17&18/2009) and one UNKNOWN city on the 25th and 26th.
The challenge – where should it be? The cool part – You decide!
Your choice is either:
-> The Atlantic Region with it taking place in Halifax (11/25&26/2009)
-> Another Western Region city with it taking place in Edmonton (11/25&26/2009)
How are we measuring interest in either of these two choices? You have to send my colleague Damir Bersinic an email indicating how many people at your place of work are willing to commit to coming out and registering for one of these two cities? Remember – this is a Technical Training Conference that was designed from the ground up to give you the skills you need to be successful in your job. Either you, your boss or others on your team need to send in an email of support for either the Halifax OR Edmonton location of the November 25th&26th open slot. It has to be in by MAY 15th in order to count. The city that shows the most support by email by May 15th will become the 7th confirmed city for Techdays 2009.
<Atlantic region bias>
Hey Atlantic Canada – I’m talking to you. We’re BEHIND the level of support already expressed by Edmonton.
If Halifax is going to be an option – we need to get the vote out!
</Atlantic region bias>
I’m very excited to be part of the team that is putting TechDays on in Canada once again – it was an absolute blast last year. We’re getting more community involvement with content selection this year and we’re already deep in planning stages to make it a bigger success then last year. We are aiming to have the updated TechDays website up and online in June with a complete listing of tracks, sessions, dates, speakers and all sorts of resources live for you to see as well as registration for TechDays Canada 2009.
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