MS BI Conference 7: Wednesday evening
The evening was the Partner Pavillion Expo reception. Open bar and light supper and you wander around the booths. Microsoft has areas where you can talk with the product managers. They have tables marked "Reporting and Analysis", "Integration and Data Warehousing", "Database engine", "ProClarity", "Performance Point Server", yadda yadda yadda. I wanted to talk to some of them from the Analysis Services team, to talk about the mutli-developer scenarios that I had been going through with my customer, and some of the problems I have had with team development in Analysis services. But I couldn't tell which guys were the SSAS ones, which MS people were just wandering around themselves, and I'm not great at starting up conversations with people I don't know anyway. And I wasnt' with anyone who would help bolster my courage. So I wandered around the tables, looking like I wanted to talk to someone if only they would come up to me and introduce themselves. It sounds stupid I know.
I decided to go back to the hotel at that point, and chat with my DW for a while, and my boss was asking me about the day too. MS Canada was hosting a party at the Fox Sports Bar a block away this evening, and Gary, the sales guy from Imaginet who is also here, said he was going to go, so I headed down there about 9.
I guess MS Canada just had an area of the bar, because there was still other "non-geek" types there - as evidenced by their lack of conference lanyards. It wasn't immediately obvious which area was the MS Canada reception, but there was a busy corner so I went over there, looking for Gary. It soon became apparent that Gary wasnt' there, and there was no one there I knew. Ramon, a manager at Imaginet, and former MS Canada guy, had sent me some contact info for the MS Canada BI tech lead, whose name I have since forgotten, so he was hoping I would connect with him and introduce myself. The bar was fairly loud, I didn't really know anyone, and pretty much everyone was already chatting amongst themselves, so I'm not one to stand at the edge of a group and horn in. Or go up to a complete stranger and introduce myself. If Ramon had been there, he would have known probably 75% of the people there, and he probably would have introduced me (actually, he would have "talked me up") to anyone that mattered. His reasons to go to a conference like this (and Gary's reasons too I bet) would be quite different than mine. He would have gone to network, to make contacts, to find business, and to come home with $150k worth of leads.
Me, I come to these things to soak up the knowledge. To find the best sessions and learn stuff I don't know. I don't really like the vendor booths because I don't much like the sales pitch. I do try to think about how I would apply the things I am learning within Imaginet, or with my customers and on future projects. But I don't really think "hey, if we took that idea to Customer X, we might get $50k of work out of it". I suppose I should. My value equation, I think, is using the knowledge I gain from events like this to do my work better, to recognize ways I can add value to customers or leads when they come to me with a problem. Joel, on the other hand, is much better at this than I am, he comes out of these thigns with ten new product ideas, and a strategy to talk with a dozen of our customers about what they are missing because they haven't done X or Y yet, and look at what you could do! ("and the villagers dance," as he would say).
Today I was wondering at a couple points about my last customer - I view them as at the "tactical" level of maturity, because they see the value of BI at a department level, at the IT level there is support for it, but it isn't particularly engrained at hte management level. I am left thinking "it's too bad they don't think at the broader scale about this." I imagine that Joel would be thinking "how can I talk to the right people there, so that I can convince them they need to think of this at a broader scale." There's a difference there. I'm not sure I'll ever get to where Joel is. I could be wrong, I suppose.