INTEGRATE 2017 USA – In Conversation

INTEGRATE 2017 USA – In Conversation

INTEGRATE is a global annual conference organized by BizTalk360 for people working in the Microsoft Integration space. It is held annually in London and this year it also took place at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, USA between 25-27 October.

Here’s a short Tête-à-tête talk between Duncan Barker and Bhavana Nambiar on their experiences at INTEGRATE 2017 USA.

Duncan – This is my first Integrate event in the US and I received a lot of good feedback and had some very interesting conversations, did it meet your expectations, Bhavana?

Bhavana – Duncan, it was incredible! It was great it all came together after a lot of hard work. I had certain expectations and it exceeded all of them. We reached out to a wide range of participants from the Microsoft Product Group to Partners and from Consultants to End Users during this event and we were also able to touch so many Industries & Sectors, such as Healthcare, Utilities, Retail, Defence & Space, Paper Products, Forestry, Finance, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Food, Wine & Spirits to name a few. Talk about global reach…people traveled from 17 different countries to attend this event. Above all, this is the most satisfying part of organizing this event in what they call the ‘Technological Mecca’ – the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond.

Bhavana – Duncan, you mentioned interesting conversations – what were they?

Duncan – To start with, I was so pleased to be able to introduce some of our attendees to the Microsoft Product Group. It isn’t very often they get the chance to speak to the very people who are shaping the future in Integration. Furthermore, such conversations are invaluable for the Microsoft Team to speak directly in person to those using their software.
Other conversations I refer to, are those between Consultants and end users. In face to face meetings Consultants could respond to questions about the challenges end users face in their day to day operations.

Integrate 2017 USA was a great possibility for me to vent some of the challenges and questions we have been facing when creating Azure solutions for our clients. I was able to have very beneficial discussions with the Microsoft Product Group on these items, so besides all the great knowledge I take home with me from discussions and presentations, I also bring home new relationships that will help my team and I in the future.

And importantly for BizTalk360, I met and spoke to some of our users and to those who are evaluating our products for use in forthcoming projects.
I saw a lot of these conversations happen outside the conference room and at the informal dinner on Monday evening. I can only imagine this exceeded your expectations. Did you think it would work as well as this?

Bhavana – When we were planning this event, we wanted to give plenty of opportunity to the attendees to network with people from the same community. That was also the idea behind the Evening Dinner which we arranged in the Microsoft Commons. I was quite pleased with the turnout and loved the space it gave for the attendees to mingle with the Product Group and each other.

Duncan, would you believe it if I said we were also instrumental in some of the reunions that happened during this event? Two of the attendees met each other for the first time in 10 years during Integrate 2017 USA. And Saravana mentioned a few people he met during the event who were colleagues from his previous job 9 years ago, before BizTalk360 was born.
I was also overwhelmed to see how people with different nationalities came together and they all spoke one language – ‘Microsoft Technologies’.

Bhavana – I think we always need to make certain things better for the next event; so tell me about the challenges you faced while networking?

Duncan – I wanted to meet as many people as possible and to engage in quality conversations about their roles in the Integration space. For the first time in many cases, I could put a face to an email contact and have a personal discussion. Everyone was very friendly and wanted to talk about their BizTalk experiences – being quite new to the industry, it gave me great insight into how companies manage their integrations. But with my poor eyesight, one challenge was trying to read the name badges without staring at people’s waistlines! Next time we should make the names and company names bolder and reduce the size of the lanyard so it hangs a bit higher!

Bhavana – Duncan, I remember your comment after Integrate 2017 in London and I did take it on board and ordered a different lanyard this time around but it is unbelievable how people with IT skills could not work out how to use a lanyard! We will need to do more brainstorming and research on this topic.

Bhavana – What did you think of the Event Venue?

Duncan – At Integrate 2017 in London, some felt trapped in the auditorium without the ability to come and go freely from time to time. In my view, the Microsoft Campus facility gave the best of both worlds –a freer space to listen to the addresses and move around without disturbing the speakers – the audio visual worked very well with the 3 huge screens, back and front. However, some of the speakers missed the theatrical spotlight of the London venue and requested the rock ’n roll intros of London!

Duncan – As the organizer, how did you manage to co-ordinate the speakers and the content of their speeches?

Bhavana – I think all the credit goes to Saravana in liaising with the Product Team and the MVP’s in bringing the right content to our attendees. One of the main reasons for the event’s success is the quality of the content presented in these sessions and I think we were spot on. It was a good mix with sessions focusing on all the main technologies such as BizTalk, LogicApps, API Management, Messaging, Microsoft Flow etc.

Bhavana – Being a Business Development person, trying to engage with more and more Partners & Consultants, how did this event really help you?

Duncan– Two Partners, VNB Consulting and Devscope sponsored the event and several more traveled to the event, some travelling half way round the world. This commitment to attend proves the benefit for them. The success of Integrate 2017 USA has prompted some Partners present in Redmond to express an interest in sponsoring the next event. So, for me it was a great opportunity to listen to what our Partners require to meet the needs of their clients, and to hear more about what they want out of the Integrate events and BizTalk360 as an ISV. I hope our announcements about product improvements to BizTalk360 and ServiceBus360 plus the unveiling of our new product, Atomic Scope, have demonstrated we are a company to work closely with.

Duncan – We haven’t mentioned the superstar of the conference. What was the reaction to Scott Guthrie’s keynote?

Bhavana – It was a great privilege to have Scott Guthrie do the keynote. It did add star quality to the event and the attendees were really excited by his presence. Personally speaking, I was awestruck and remember how we cautiously approached Scott’s assistant in the hope of having a photograph taken with him and ta-da here is the result!

Integrate 2017 USA organizers

I must say it did start a trend as everyone jumped up to take their selfies with Scott. A big thanks to Jim for his efforts in getting Scott on board. Without him this wouldn’t have been possible.

Bhavana – So if I can ask you, what did you take away from Integrate 2017 USA?

Duncan – As in London in June, my first impression was one of community. Despite the different roles of attendees, we all have one thing in common – to move forward with and get the best out of Microsoft Technologies. The collaboration amongst everyone was first class. Secondly, it was a super opportunity to meet people in key decision making positions, meeting influential people who are shaping the way their companies are run is exactly what I want.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone I got to know at Integrate. I will speak to and meet many of the attendees again, perhaps at the next Integrate event!

I have been asked by many at the event what the final statistics looked like – do you have the final numbers?

Bhavana – During the 3 day event there were 25 Speakers presenting 24 sessions to 222 Attendees from 17 countries.

All in all, a very successful event. Thanks to you, Saravana, Gowri, Sriram and Parthiban who all worked behind the scenes to make this event a success. A big shout to all the attendees, Product Group, MVP’s, sponsors and the community in backing us all the way.

Our hunt for a new event venue for Integrate 2018 in London starts now ……

Attendee Testimonials

Integrate is the must attend event if you are involved in the Microsoft Integration space. There is no better place to learn and communicate with your peers and the Microsoft Product Groups.

A very informative event with excellent speakers and relevant content. Highly recommended.

Thank you for a great conference. Very informative and good speakers, and very interesting and rightly balanced sessions.

Eye opening event, extremely useful.

This event gave me the answers to the direction I should be directing my staff to stay current on technology.

The presentations were really helpful at enabling me to identify a well-reasoned and justifiable path forward. I was feeling quite frustrated before the conference.

Author: Bhavana Nambiar

Bhavana makes sure our customers and team are well taken care of: license keys, payroll, benefits, taxes, accounting, dealing with the bank — she does it all!.

Looking back at INTEGRATE 2017

Looking back at INTEGRATE 2017

The curtain has come down on INTEGRATE 2017 and as the saying goes ‘The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come!’.

Today when I look back at the success of INTEGRATE 2017, it feels like we have come a long way and every year we have just got better and better. From BizTalk Summit 2013 to INTEGRATE 2017, it is a great leap in terms of the success of the event, given the fact we are a small team doing this event organization.

We have had some amazing feedback from the community for our efforts, which boosts our morale to organize this event every year.

“You guys should be really proud of INTEGRATE 2017. I was amazed by last year’s event, but this year you guys set the bar really high.” – Wagner Silveira, Theta

A well planned and performed event with the right content and the right people!

 “The largest organized event around the current state of Microsoft Integration in the world.” – Steef – Jan Wiggers

‘Great event with like-minded people, already looking forward to the next event.’

‘This is the must-attend integration event for Microsoft technology. The event organization is excellent with thanks to BizTalk360.’

Venue Hunt:

Organising an event year after year and delivering quality content comes with its own challenges. It all started in November 2016, when we approached Excel for booking the venue, we were met with disappointment when we found out that the venue was not available for any of the dates we requested. We were so not ready for this. We frantically started looking around for a good venue. The challenge here was to find a venue equivalent to Excel, London or better,  which could accommodate 400 people for 3 days and be easily accessible for our attendees. With all these points in mind, the hunt for a good venue became even more difficult. The next month or so we were unsure if we would even be able to organize the event this year.

Finally, we found Kings Place but they didn’t have availability until June. Though we knew the timing was not going to be ideal, being summer time and holidays for a lot of the European countries, we decided to commit to Kings’ Place as it ticked all the other criteria. This meant the attendance for the event would be affected. But we decided to risk it since we knew how important this event is for the community.  We had to put a deposit for the venue to guarantee the booking without knowing if we would be able to collect enough money through the sale of tickets.

Some of the highlights of the venue were the high-tech halls with most advanced technical support and award-winning caterers providing high-quality food, drink, and service to every single event.

When we opened the registration in February, we were pleasantly surprised at the response from the community. The tickets were selling like hot cakes.

Sponsors

The next step was to look for sponsors who could help us with the organization of the event as you are already aware we run this event purely for the community purpose and not for generating any profit. The budgets are very tight and to ensure that we put our best out there for our attendees we needed sponsors. Apart from Microsoft, our partners – Codit, QuickLearn, Middleway immediately agreed, and all the other sponsors followed.

Speakers

Content is always the most important thing that attracts the attendees to a conference like this. All the 3 days were packed with content delivered by the Microsoft Team and MVPS’ from the community. One of the main reasons for attending this event is there is no other event in the world focussed on Microsoft Integration and the opportunity to meet the Microsoft Product Team is very exciting. Saravana and Jim arranged for the speakers and prepared a very interesting line-up.

Execution

Having organized the event in Excel, London for the past 2 years, it was quite a challenge in the beginning to plan and organize everything around the new venue.

Due to the tight budgets, we could not book a setup day, which put us under great pressure to set up the venue on the first day of the event. The only way to tackle this challenge was to get to the venue early in the morning and choreograph the way it was all going to happen beforehand. We made teams who would focus on activities such as setting up banners, registration, etc.…

You can plan a day in advance, but it comes with its own surprises. When we reached the venue, we found that there were a few missing parcels, most importantly the box of lanyards. We had to just go with the flow and give away the badges without the lanyards. There were also some delayed deliveries forcing us to change some of our plans.

Even though all these obstacles kept appearing, we had to overcome them since we knew it was all going to be worth it at the end of the day.

Team Effort

This scale of the event cannot be organized without a team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the individuals in BizTalk360 who came together as a team and helped in making this event a great success. Each one worked really hard to put up a good show. Four of our team members flew from India to participate and help us with the event.

Registration Team

–Duncan, Srini, Mekala, Kandarp, Kajal, Rochelle, Saranya, Gowri. It is never easy to keep your calm amidst all the chaos in the morning. The aim was to finish all the registrations before the keynote and we achieved that. This year we also arranged separate registrations for the sponsors and speakers.

Banner Assembling Team

– Jo, Daniel, Vishnu, Rajesh – Special mention for this team. Despite all the odds the team put together all the banners in time for the start of the event.

Design & Social Media Team

– Vicky, Mohan, Parthiban & Sriram – this team was mainly operating from India. Their job started from the time we published the event – website creation, designing banners for the event, marketing the event through ads, promoting the event in social media to the public. We arranged a live streaming just for the Team so that they could follow the event remotely and could manage our Social Media updating everyone in the community through Twitter and Facebook.

Bloggers

– Lex, Srini & Sriram – They wrote some fantastic blogs updating some of the important sessions through the day and also a summary at the end of the day.

https://blogs.biztalk360.com/integrate-2017-recap-day-1-announcements-microsoft-pro-integration-team/

https://blogs.biztalk360.com/integrate-2017-recap-day-2/

https://blogs.biztalk360.com/integrate-2017-recap-day-3/

https://blogs.biztalk360.com/logic-apps-sessions-integrate-2017-day-2/

https://blogs.biztalk360.com/bringing-logic-apps-into-devops-with-visual-studio-and-monitoring/

Customer Testimonials

– Rochelle, Kajal & Gowri – They were responsible for collecting customer testimonials from our customers whom we could meet in person and talk about the use of the product.

We also had 3 booths which were managed by the Team to help the attendees throughout the day with information regarding the event and our products in general.

Speaker Introduction

This was a new initiative we thought to introduce this year. In the past, Saravana did all the introductions, but we took this responsibility from him this year and let him sit back and enjoy the event. This also gave a good opportunity to the BizTalk360 Team to introduce themselves to the community. Thanks to Gowri for motivating everyone to do this and for helping with the rehearsals. The speakers loved these introductions as well.

‘A bit of feedback… I really liked the way that each speaker was introduced before they walked out on stage. It made us feel special, and it also gave an opportunity for each of the BizTalk360 team members to introduce themselves and be seen as well. Nice work!’ – Daniel Toomey, Mexia

Partner Networking Event

This year we organized a Partner networking event to meet and greet all our partners. The Sales Team could have some meaningful conversations and this networking event helped in strengthening our partner relationship. We also put a huge partner banner to showcase our partner channel and give the partners visibility & publicity during this event.

Product Specialist & Partner Awards:

During the drinks and networking event on Day 1, we arranged for a presentation ceremony to announce our Partner of the Year and Product Specialist of the Year.

Read more – https://blogs.biztalk360.com/integrate-2017-biztalk360-partner-product-specialist-awards/

Pictures & Video

Our photography & video team did a great job by capturing the right emotions and moments during the event. Tariq, our photographer is the best at his job and came up with some fabulous pictures, one of which was to gather all the 380 attendees for a group picture.

Day 1 Pictures

Day 2 Pictures

Day 3 Pictures

Event Feedback:

Like every year, we sent out an online feedback form for our attendees to voice their opinions regarding the event. Thanks to everyone who took the time to send us their feedback. We have noted all the comments so far and will use them to improve future events.

I would like to thank Saravana Kumar and Gowri Ramkumar for their guidance, direction, and continuous support during the organization of this event, without which this would not have been possible. I also extend my gratitude to Microsoft, our sponsors, our partners and last but not the least to all the 380 attendees who traveled from over 20+ countries to make this event a big SUCCESS!

We cannot sit back and relax yet! As I pen this blog, the preparations for our next event INTEGRATE 2017 – USA has already started. So, see you all at Microsoft, Redmond on 25-27 October  –  until then Hasta la vista!!!

Author: Bhavana Nambiar

Bhavana makes sure our customers and team are well taken care of: license keys, payroll, benefits, taxes, accounting, dealing with the bank — she does it all!.