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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!.