While there are many options for relevant conferences each year around the world, living in New Zealand means the options on these local shores are few and far between. In past years I have enjoyed traveling to conferences in far off places – London, Utrecht, Florida, and even Sydney (among others) – but in this season of life, that’s not my recipe for business and learning. Therefore, when the options are few, it is important to make the most of what is available – such as the local Office 365 and SharePoint User Group, and the Digital Workplace Conference each year hosted by ShareThePoint.
As 2019 kicked into gear, I was hopeful of being able to attend the Digital Workplace Conference in Auckland this year, an event I last spoke at in 2016. I submitted four different sessions to the call for speakers, and had one of those accepted (on Safeguarding the Digital Workplace). Debbie, the intrepid leader of the conference, also asked if I could do something around return-on-investment for Office 365, a topic area she felt wasn’t covered well enough in the other submissions. Of course I accepted that challenge, especially since it aligned so well with a research project I was doing at Silverside. I also submitted the same four sessions for the Australian edition of the Digital Workplace Conference later in the year, but the speaker roster hasn’t been released yet. I play the wait-and-see game on that one.
Having two sessions to prepare made for a busy April, but come the beginning of last week, I was finally in Auckland and almost ready to go. Several last minute changes to my ROI deck were required on the day before the conference started, and my Safeguarding session for Wednesday at 10.30am was finally finished just before 8am on Wednesday morning. It was probably a cut too close, but then again, when Ross Mayfield was the CEO of Socialtext and I was the conference track organiser for a conference in the US about a decade ago, he told me he wouldn’t even start his slides until the morning of his talk! By that standard I was well-prepared. I decided to skip the first session of Wednesday, and instead swam 3km at the hotel to get me into the zone for presenting. After my swim, I packed up my room, checked out of my hotel, walked quietly up to the conference, visited a local cafe for a morning snack, and then turned up on-site 20 minutes before I was due to begin.