Why Attend Microsoft Ignite, or Any Conference?

This is a question that comes up often, how do I justify the costs of Microsoft Ignite conference when the return on investment may not have a direct correlation?

My answer: awareness.

Sounds simple, but it really isn’t.

I remember many years ago hearing a financial adviser talk of watching where you spend your money. And one of the areas that was suggested you scrutinize was hobbies. The first thing to do was stop reading about it, cancel magazine subscriptions, etc. In essence, limit your awareness to curb your knowledge on the subject and thus cut expenditures. I think the opposite is true if you want to drive innovation and digital transformation. A lack of awareness of what is happening in the ecosystem of technology can seriously cost you: what you don’t know can hurt you (or your bottom line at least). Sure, we have online articles, posts, podcasts, and ever so applicable marketing emails, but where does all the information land during your fully booked Outlook calendar week?  I can’t imagine really absorbing a week’s worth of new info while working anymore than I can imagine a great week of vacation while still working.

And that’s where conferences like Ignite come in. Of course, your phone will still vibrate notifications (assuming you are at Ignite where the WiFi surprisingly works well), but with your physical presence at the event you get immersed in the information around you. And believe me, there is a lot of information. Perhaps the only downside to the conference is that you need four of you to be able to go to all the sessions you will want to. And yes, that sounds like an exaggeration, but when I plan my week out I select all the events I’m interested in and go back to clean it up, I find myself removing 3 to 1 for each time slot (oh, and I guess I should plan time to eat?).

It would be crazy to try and cover all the topics here, but I do want to give you an idea of the variety of content. There are detailed sessions on how to send birthday notifications with workflow, how to ensure user adoption, avoiding bias and pursuing diversity, moving to the cloud, quantum computing, and so much more. And while this (very limited) sample of sessions is specific to this conference, I’ve seen this breadth of offerings at most conferences. I’ve learned so much from sessions on the technology I’ve used, but so much more on the technology I wasn’t even aware of. Not to mention sessions on leadership, inclusion, company culture, and more.

Being aware of the digital world around you allows you to bring that world to life in your organization to drive productivity and profitability.

Taking the time to attend the conference and gain the awareness of the current trends in an ever-changing digital world has inspired me to push change in my own life that I know would not have happened otherwise. It’s one thing to read about a roller coaster; it’s a completely different story when you experience one yourself.

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