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This episode of ‘On the way to…’ is once again brought to you by my house. I tried to get a picture of Charlie on my easy chair, but that didn’t work out. I ended up finishing this blog on my back deck, so you’ll have to settle for a picture from there instead.

Yes, you read that right. Microsoft Ignite/Microsoft Envision. For the first time in 8 years, I won’t be at SAP TechEd. I am totally bummed out that I won’t be with my fellow SAP Mentors for our 10th Anniversary celebration, as well as the ASUG Volunteers and other nerds; but sometimes corporate funding priorities and additional job responsibilities make for changes in the direction of the winds.

After the impact of Hurricane Irma, I was unsure if the I-Drive corridor would be back in business for 20,000 attendees. But emails from Microsoft say that OCCC is ready and they’re going on with the show. They are doing a non-perishable item collection, so I’m hoping that there’s a lot of donations made.

For the first time in a while, I am going into a major technical conference as a ‘new’ attendee. I’ve done as much due diligence as I can: watched Microsoft’s videos, read the MS Tech Community and combed through a bit of Twitter. Here’s some of the tidbits I’ve gathered:

  • We’re at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. This makes me happy as a long-time ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire attendee. I’ve got a full understanding of the lay of the land and am surprised to see that Microsoft is only using the South Hall and not both.  But they are using the West Hall, which ASUG Annual Conference doesn’t use.  With my Envision pass, I will also have access to  sessions at the Hilton.  Microsoft is also using the Hyatt Regency for session rooms and auditorium space.  (Sidebar: I remember when it was The Peabody.  I wonder where the ducks went?)  All of that means one thing: comfortable shoes are a requirement. Sneakers are likely my standard shoe by Wednesday afternoon!
  • 20,000 people are expected.  Another good parallel to ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire.  At least I’m used to handling big conference crowds.
  • The swag is on point and I should get to the expo floor early to grab some.
  • There are plenty of BI & Analytics sessions, but they are definitely spread out amongst the campus.  I’ve been spending a lot of my time trying to come up with a good travel plan.

 

Now, there are some questions that I don’t think I’ll be able to answer until my boots are on the ground:

  • What is the ‘actual’ dress code?  I am thinking by the speakers and topics on the Envision schedule, that their dress code will be more business casual and there won’t be much deviation. I’ll get the feel for that on Monday,  but will ‘dress up’ a bit more than usual on Monday.  The Ignite side seems a bit more casual, so I’ll just have to wait and see!
  • How does everyone interact?  Is it more like ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire or SAP TechED?  More techies that business users?  Equal mix?  More suits than sneakers?  I’m pretty good at figuring out these vibes and am looking forward to the challenge.
  • Sessions?  How are they run? How do the speakers interact with the attendees?  To be honest, I’m really interested to see the Microsoft format to compare to SAP.
  • Overall vibe. You can tell the difference between SAP TechEd and ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire.  There’s something innate in the air surrounding each event and if you’ve been to both, you know what I’m talking about.  I’m really interested in seeing what kind of vibe my ‘spider senses’ can hone in on.

What will be a new feeling is going to a major technical event without knowing a single person. My Microsoft BI contact? Nope. A good friend who is a Microsoft Account Executive? Can’t make it. The only person I have a meeting with is my corporate Account Executive. Which will be nice, since I’ve never met him before. But other than that, I have zero plans and no drinking buddies. Staci says that I’m always making friends, so I’ve got that going for me! But honestly, I may just lay low, take in the landscape and go where the winds take me. Or a car. I will have a rental, so I may just visit Disney Springs for some early Christmas shopping one night or drop in on my family.

I’ll be keeping an eye on all the SAP Mentors 10th Anniversary excitement, as well as trying to check out the ‘Big Data’ announcement SAP will be making from TechEd. If you see or hear anything from Las Vegas that you’d like to share, please tweet me. I’m looking forward to posting a new kind of trip report in a few weeks, too. If you’re going to Orlando or Las Vegas, safe travels. See you in Orlando next week (and hopefully next June for ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire 2018)!

(As always, this blog was also posted on my personal blog, too. This is the first part of the blog.  I will be posting a post-event recap.)

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