This was always going to be a slightly different TechEd for me. Firstly I am a Mentor now. There are lots of Mentor-specific events, meetings with senior executives, etc. My agenda was already looking full before those were all added. Plus, having your name on your back makes it easy for people you’ve never met to find you and strike up a conversation. That happened more than I expected, and certainly feels a bit odd at first.
Secondly, there was a definite flavour (pardon the pun) of SAP Screen Personas about the week for me. I was speaking about Personas in one Expert Networking Session and planned to support, as much as I was able, the Personas sessions run by others. In the past I have only been a consumer of information at TechEd. Being a provider of information to others is definitely a new experience!
The journey there should have been straightforward. I live 5 minutes walk from a train station which is 10 minutes ride from the airport and Amsterdam is just over a 1 hour flight from there. Easy. Just as I got on the train I got a text message from KLM telling me my flight had been cancelled. What? The instructions were to go to the KLM ticket desk where they’d find me another flight. Of course when I got there, there was a whole aircraft full of people ahead of me in the queue at the ticket desk. And the queue was moving so slowly it would have taken me 2 hours to get to the front. Thankfully, KLM have some very helpful people running their Twitter account and they were able to rebook me while I was still in the queue and after “only” an hour I was on a new flight and able to ditch the queue while I was still some way from the front. Thank goodness for Twitter! Sadly the new flight was at 5:30pm, rather than my original 11:15am flight, meaning lots of time spent sitting around in the airport departure lounge. And of course the new flight was delayed further, so I didn’t land until after 8pm and didn’t get to my hotel until almost 9. All I was in the mood for was sleep, which is a shame as I had two events in my diary for the Monday evening. Ah well.
The Main Event
As usual the main TechEd event started with a Keynote. If you believed the agenda you’d expect this to start at 9am and finish at 10:30. Of course, these things never start or finish on time. Eventually the keynote finished at 11am. That would be fine were it not for the fact that I was speaking at an Expert Networking session scheduled at 11:30 and during the keynote I’d had an email from somebody back home telling me that the Personas stuff I was about to demo, live, wasn’t working 😯 . As soon as it finished I ran to the Expert Networking Lounge, fired up my laptop and checked everything through. No problems. Great. Until I got up front and the WiFi decided to have fun with me. Enough of the demo worked to provoke lots of discussion, which is the main thing for an Expert Networking session. I even ended up talking with somebody for a further 30 minutes afterwards. I didn’t notice how many people were there but there was standing room only – maybe 30-40 people? If you were one of them, sorry you didn’t get to see the demo in full. The Personas theme for the week continued as I hung around other Expert and Speaker Networking sessions, and even the 2 hour Personas deep dive lecture, to pick up questions and generally help out.
Away from Personas I managed to fit in a few lectures and hands-on sessions on the Cloud Appliance Library, SAPUI5 app development, NetWeaver Business Client, Fiori security & technical architecture and others.
The social aspects of TechEd were much more important for me this year than in previous years. I’ve previously written about how social media, and especially Twitter and SCN, have made TechEd a more social experience for me and this year was even more of the same. Especially as wearing a Mentor shirt makes you very conspicuous! As does being up on stage with Chip and Maggie before demojam 🙂 . I had several conversations this year with total strangers, some Personas-related but some not. If you were one of those people, do please follow me here on SCN or over on Twitter and maybe next time we won’t start out as strangers.
I remember my first TechEd being a very solitary affair. I knew no-one and just wandered from session to session to session. That was such a poor experience compared to the TechEd last week. TechEd is so much better when you know people and you can experience it together, even if they are people you only meet at TechEd. If you were on your own in Amsterdam last week, do try to make connections with others here so that next time there will be people you know. It really does make a big difference.
By the end of Thursday I was a spent force. Being an introvert I find interacting with people very tiring. I don’t mind doing it (well, I do a little, but I’m getting better at that) but it is very draining and TechEd doesn’t provide much time to hide away and recharge. Friday was a relatively uneventful journey home, and I spent the weekend doing as little as possible (sorry, family) trying to recover. I’m finally enough back to normal to think about blogging again!
I’ll be processing all of the activities of TechEd for some time yet. I’ve learned new stuff that isn’t immediately applicable to my day job but most likely will be some day. I need to reinforce that knowledge and look out for opportunities to use it. I did some new things – being an upfront person, and especially a speaker, was a new experience and I need to process that and figure out if I want to do more of it. And I met lots of new people – some I “knew” on Twitter or here on SCN and have wanted to meet in person for a while, some who knew me on Twitter or SCN and wanted to meet me, and some who were completely new contacts.
TechEd is a great conference. As Vishal Sikka said during the keynote (by video) it is about Tech and Ed, but it is about a lot more besides. It is about making connections, or even friends, having fun, trying new things. TechEd is an experience, and if you haven’t tried it before start planning for a TechEd near you in 2014. And in the meantime, maybe try an SAP Inside Track as a sort of “micro-TechEd”…?