I get the question wherever I go, "You speak at a lot of conferences. Which one should I attend?" That's really a loaded question. Each conference has a different agenda, so I'd need to sit and talk with you about what your goals are with SharePoint, what your user level is, what projects are you working on.
Instead of me trying to give a specific answer to a question like that, let's let the conference organizers tell you why they created their conference. I'm speaking at Best Practices Conference, Washington DC August 24 – 27th, and at SPTechCon Boston, October 20 – 22nd. Let's hear what David Rubinstein and Bill English have to say about their events and then open it up for comments from people who have attended or plan to attend them.
Best Practices Conference, Washington DC
The Best Practices Conference is an outgrowth of the SharePoint Server 2007 Best Practices book published by Microsoft Press. That book helped thousands of deployments avoid the more common pitfalls while also helping them gain a better deployment. The conference is focused on best practices for a SharePoint deployment and has content that will appeal to nearly everyone involved with SharePoint: from the technically-oriented developers and IT administrators to the non-technical project managers and decision makers.
The Best Practices Conference is the only conference that contains series elements in each presentation. We expect each speaker in each session to give out at least 3-5 best practices, at least one worst practice and at least one tradeoff decision (if you say "yes" to this, you're saying "no" to that). In addition, while some of the sessions have portions that are highly technical, this conference will also have content that is planning, design and architecture in nature for the non-technical project manager and decision maker. We try to focus on the "why" of a decision and less on the "how". There are plenty of conferences that will tell you "how", but not many that will tell you "why". We focus on the "why".
This year, we're also trying out a post conference filled with full-day presentations that offer more education on individual topics than can be presented in 75 minutes. Over a four-day period, you'll learn a great deal about SharePoint Server 2010 and the best practices for deploying it in your environment. This conference will be held at the Reston Hyatt, outside of Washington, DC, August 24-27. We hope you can attend.
To learn more, please visit http://www.sharepointbestpractices.com/.
Conference Organizer: Bill English
We agree with Bill English that the SharePoint market is a large one, with a great need for technical education. We have an excellent relationship with Bill and the Best Practices event, and Bill is actually one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming (Oct. 20-22) Boston event! And we agree that his description of Best Practices being a "why" event and SPTechCon being a "how-to" event is fairly accurate as well.
BZ Media has been producing conferences for many years, and we try to create large, inclusive, exciting events where we are somewhat "all things (in this case SharePoint) to all people." We want SPTechCon to become "the place to go" for SharePoint technical education, whether you're an IT administrator, a software architect, a developer or a business user. SPTechCon classes run the gamut from beginner to very technical and geared toward those wishing to become experts in the field – taught by experts in the field.
Interestingly, we have never seen a market with such an array of highly professional, entertaining, effective instructors. We don't have an identical look and feel or structure to each class but use rigorous evaluations from attendees to weed out any speakers or classes that are not top-notch. At the last SPTechCon, the average score across all classes and workshops was 8.8 out of 10.0. Of course we do mix in about 15% new speakers and 30% new classes each event, to offer a mix of new material along with proven excellent sessions and instructors.
We must be doing something right, because our most recent SPTechCon, in the San Francisco Bay Area in February, attracted more than 1,000 registrants and more than 50 corporate exhibitors and sponsors. That's the kind of community BZ Media has experience in bringing together. We hope to see you at an SPTechCon soon!
Conference Organizer: David Rubinstein
So there you have it. These are two very useful conferences that are looking for different audiences. I'm sure there are other conferences you will consider, and I'd like to hear about them.
In the meantime, pick and choose which is most useful for you. But no matter what, you'll see me there along with a host of other SharePoint experts, looking to have some fun while working with SharePoint.
(Editor's note: As a media sponsor of both the Best Practices Conference and SPTechCon, Bamboo Nation gratefully acknowleges Mark Miller and EndUserSharePoint for permission to reprint his post as a guest blog. As well, the resulting discussion in the comments on EUSP includes additional commentary by both Bill English and David Rubinstein, and is recommended for further reading.)