Microsoft TechEd AU Split Up

An interesting official announcement for Microsoft TechEd. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m off to TechEd North America next week as press, and looking forward to an amazing event. In contrast, TechEd Australia has just been announced as being broken up from a single event into multiple cities here.

From the page:

For 20 years, TechEd has been hosted as one event at a single location.

This year that format will be changing. Microsoft is excited to announce, that in 2014 TechEd will be held in multiple cities, in order to increase the accessibility to Australia’s premium learning conference for technical professionals. This new approach will provide the opportunity for more people to benefit from the TechEd experience throughout the year.

TechEd 2014. Coming to a town near you.
Kicking off in Melbourne before being repeated in Sydney, these events will retain the quality of the TechEd brand by focussing on two days of deep technical training, access to experts and hands-on technology.

On twitter there are already some negative comments around this:

People are pretty upset. The clash with Europe is interesting – you’d have to think that some amazing speakers can’t attend both because of the conflict, but at the same time there should be enough great speakers for one of the biggest software companies in the world.

The event is also cut down to two days – previously it was 3 to 4 days. So will less time, there must be less content?

The other reason I think people are upset, is that it’s often their only big reward in the year. Going off to a nice location, catching up with all your fellow minded IT people and being swept up in the conference itself. That will change by splitting it into two events.

Brisbane/Gold Coast people may not be able to go because they’re used to being able to travel locally. Sydney and Melbourne people will most likely go to their local conference instead, which takes them less away from their work. Friends and contacts people have made and see each year may go to difference conferences.

There are some upsides though. Smaller companies that only have a few staff and can’t afford to send them all at the same time can now send them separately to each event, without people missing out. I think this is what they mean by the accessibility reasons, with most attendees coming from Melbourne and Sydney anyway.

Tickets should be cheaper too, less time should equal less money.

The other interesting side is how sponsors will take this. Will they spend less because they have to spread it over two events, with fewer attendees at each event?

Although there’s negativity now (which I completely understand), it will really depend on how the events go. Then it will be up to Microsoft to weigh each option, but as it is now they’re planning for more cities in 2015. Maybe it’s about getting more exposure, and getting more people onto the Microsoft Cloud?

Otherwise if you don’t like it, you could always go to TechEd New Zealand (TechEd North America is sold out!) :)

11 thoughts on “Microsoft TechEd AU Split Up

  1. Not that it’s Microsoft’s fault, but I “took one for the team” and didn’t attend TechEd North America (and thus avoided some considerable expense for my employer) and agreed to do AU TechEd instead.

    And now we get this.

    Whilst it will be cheaper again for me to attend in Sydney (no flights to pay for, no accommodation to worry about), a two day event won’t be half what a four-day event was, and even without the scheduling conflicts with Europe, you just know that the number of international speakers who’d have taken the time to come “down under” for two two-day events running at either end of the month of October would be significantly less than would attend a full four-day event. Not to mention that an already small IT Community will now be split into attending one event or the other (very few people will attend both), vendors will actually run up more costs to attend both events, community groups who used to gather for the events will have their gathering costs increased when they have to run two events (or they’ll suffer a hit in one location if they choose one over the other), etc.

    The two-day events won’t hold a candle to what the four-day event used to be.

    All this, and NZ, a smaller market, gets a full four day event. Given that my employer does business in New Zealand, I may just fly across the ditch for TechEd NZ, and give the AU event a miss – and that’s exactly what Microsoft Australia deserve after this decision..

    1. Bit of a double whammy there – TechEd AU wouldn’t have been an option for me this year as we take turns at my current employer, which is partly why I jumped on the TechEd NA opportunity. Good points too around people from the US flying to AU just for 2 days.

      If the events were much closer together it could make more sense for speakers to attend both, but they’re too far apart.

      We’ll have to wait and see how many tickets there are for the split events, will it double the amount of people that can go?

  2. Less than 5 international speakers. Less than 1/4 the sessions. Tracks owned by the Sales team rather than the technical people. Can’t wait.

  3. I’m very sad to see the full 4/5 day conference cancelled for Teched Australia. However in a way its a good outcome for my situation. Working for the Government, there are presently cost constraints across all departments. Having a smaller Teched in Melbourne as an option will most likely mean that I attend rather than not at all.

    It will all depend on quality content that is relevant along with a ticket price that appropriately reflects the shortened 2 day event.

    Here’s hoping that there are some brains behind the wheel of this TechEd machine that had suddenly changed direction.

    1. I think your scenario is one of the reasons Microsoft are testing the waters with this method rather than a yearly big bang. Yes they’ll annoy the people who go yearly, but even if annoyed they’ll most likely still go to something.

      Also it’s hard to wait a year with Microsoft aiming to have a rapid release cycle, which again would be why they’re talking about more cities in early 2015 – a very different time of year to normal.

      So, MS will probably make more people happy than they do unhappy.

  4. 140 characters limited me to what I could say and I really hope I’m not immortalised by those three somewhat less-than-choice words. I did apologise to Microsoft for my less-than-professional outburst (https://twitter.com/girlgerms/status/463980677214388225). But I was pissed, no other way of saying it. I was exceptionally upset and angry that *the* premier Microsoft conference in Australia has been shelved in favour of doing ‘mini’ conferences in certain cities.

    What disappoints me the most is the fact that, for 4 days out of 365, Microsoft System professionals gathered together from across the country to learn, to talk, to network and to enjoy. Now, we don’t get that. By splitting it in two, it’s splitting the attendance in two (at least). It’s halving the time spent for both learning and networking. It makes it less likely that international speakers will want to come out for just one or two days, unless they were here already. I know I certainly won’t be able to attend, as I was assuming it would be held (as in previous years) sometime during September.

    I do understand that there has been a shift in the economy, that companies may be less likely to want to send staff. But for the last three years (from what I’ve seen) attendance has been booming! I just don’t understand why you would cancel something that had been so successful.

    I also don’t appreciate the way in which it was done – the link on the Tech.Ed website was the only place I could see it mentioned. There was no posting to Twitter or Facebook, nothing mentioned on the Microsoft Australia site. It was as if they thought “If we’re quiet about this and don’t make too much of a fuss, no one will notice”.

    Well, we did notice. And I for one am certainly not happy.

    1. A note to others that I did ask permission from the people who wrote the tweets I quoted :) Microsoft do listen to feedback, so even though it’s an outburst, it’s still how you feel about it.

      It would be good to know a bit more on the reasons behind it, and what these split up events will look like right now, which would help I think.

      Thanks for posting your thoughts.

      1. I think the biggest issue (aside from what it looks like trying to hide it,and drawing the issue out for quite some time now, the rumours were circulating well before the announcement) with Microsoft’s announcement has been the vague nature of what they’ve told us about the alternative plans.

        We don’t have any idea of what the program will be – the same at each event? Different (meaning that some people may want to attend both)?

        We have no idea of who will be there (we know the international presenters are a big drawcard for many who attend). Given the apparent clash between Sydney and TechEd EU,we know full well that many of the prime International presenters will be attending the TechEd EU event in Spain rather than coming to Sydney for a smaller two-day event.

        The announcement was late. TechEd NZ is in September (when we expected TechEd AU to be). They already have a full program developed, and tickets are already on sale. You can already register for TechEd EU (the full program isn’t announced yet – but I bet it’s well under development). Unless Microsoft Australia just went and told all their presenters to cancel at the same time we got told, then it seems that the planning for the TechEd AU event was totally lacking to start with, and if they had gone ahead with it, we’d have seen a rushed event (or just a copy of something else in order to smooth the planning). Neither option is good.

        And we still don’t know why. TechEd NZ is going ahead with a full 4 day program. TechEd North America is happening next week with a full program. TechEd EU has a full four day program. What makes Australia so special/different that we don’t get/deserve the same?

        I really don’t want to put this into the same bag as the “stop screwing Australian TechNet subscribers on price” issue (which is a non-issue now that Microsoft decided to screw everyone equally and can the TechNet program), but it really makes you wonder just how Microsoft sees the Australian market.

      2. Microsoft does seem to treat Australia differently. Another example of that is Office 365 and Exchange, we are the only country in the world where it’s outsourced (to Telstra) rather than being hosted by Microsoft themselves.

        Maybe we’re small enough that a lot of things aren’t worth the effort here, yet rich enough that someone will always step up to take a slice of the cake? I don’t know.

        It might also be testing the waters for doing this in other countries. If it goes well, maybe they’ll adopt it as the standard.

        All just assumptions :)

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