The last week, in Zagreb, between May 30th and June 1st, the fourth SPC Adriatics conference has been held. So this is the time for a personal look on this conference, which I am organizing with my friends Toni and Nenad since 2012, as well as for some stats and numbers.
Back in early spring 2012, Nenad Trajkovski had an idea. It is always scary and exciting in the same time when Nenad has ideas. He asked Toni and me what do we think about making a conference in the Adriatics region, which would focus on SharePoint and Microsoft Project. It didn’t take him a lot to convince us, and a conference, named with a lot of imagination “SharePoint and Project Conference Adriatics” has been born. The very first conference has been a 1-day gig, featuring an interesting mix of local and internationally recognized speakers. The next year, the conference grew to a two-days event, and it remained so until the present day. There were more international speakers on board, and the whole story was getting on a traction – that was the year when it all actually started to be fun, as well. In 2014, we’ve introduced the fourth track, featured predominantly international speakers, and added new topics to the conference. We’ve skipped 2015, due to the SharePoint Server release dates being moved to spring 2016.
Spring 2016. This was the year when we decided to do some things differently, to try some new stuff. First, we changed the name. Since we were adding new topics, and since Office 365 and Azure, together with SharePoint, became the predominant topics, we decided to remove the words “SharePoint” and “Project” from the conference name, and to call ourselves just “SPC Adriatics”. The next thing we did was to get marvelous Branka Obuljen Štritof on board, as a new conference director, our miracle maker. Whereas Toni, Nenad and me still did the main planning, marketing, speaker and sponsor relations, Branka took over that one thing I personally was never satisfied with: conference micromanagement. This year it was functioning almost brilliantly, we didn’t have any single major flaw in the conference management – that is, expect of the Dutch beer on the end.
We had attendees from all over the world, including New Zeeland and South Africa. The largest part of attendees – around 60% – was from Adriatics region (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia), the rest was from three more continents. Most of the attendees that were not coming from Adriatics were from Germany, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, UK, Belgium and Hungary – the countries from where you can reach Croatia fairly easy – if you are not Brett Lonsdale, that is.
It is very interesting that, for the community/free/low-ticket-price conference we had a very small number of people who didn’t show up, and that number was easily compensated by the people who showed up without a ticket hoping that they can get in (!) – since the registrations were closed a week before. There was a group from Novi Sad, Serbia, who travelled 400 km, without a ticket, hoping that they could come in. Of course they could, they were more than welcome.
The feedback from the community, and from the speakers from the last years was tremendous, so we have very soon assembled an awesome lineup of world-best experts as our speakers for 2016. Lot of SharePoint legends (yes, I am using that word with purpose, as it is very accurate) have been our guests in Zagreb, and have delivered top notch sessions. Among the 44 speakers which we had in total, we had 36 Microsoft MVPs, 7 Microsoft Certified Masters, and 2 Microsoft speakers from SharePoint Engineering team.
We’ve got a lot of support from that end, as well: many speakers have offered their help, but here I would especially like to thank John P. White and Sonja Madsen, for their support in creating and setting up a new and innovative live session rating system, where attendees were invited to rate sessions with a single click immediately upon its finish, and the results were immediately visible through PowerBI dashboards. That was a huge success, with 858 session ratings – an increase of over 300% compared to the last years – and in average 50% of all session attendees were rating the sessions they were in. Fascinating.
The speaker lineup we had was a guarantee for top-class sessions, but even with that we couldn’t even dream of these results: average session rating was 4.78/5.00, based on 858 unique ratings!
This year, top speakers were the dudes from Microsoft Office Development Patterns and Practices – Vesa Juvonen (Microsoft), Paolo Pialorsi (MVP, MCM) and Erwin van Hunen (MVP, MCM). They have delivered three block sessions about OfficeDev PnP – introduction, provisioning engine and reusable solutions. On pair with them, with straight 5.0, was Jussi Roine (MCM, MVP) with the session about PowerApps. Furthermore, Sahil Malik’s session about Azure AD Apps development with TypeScript, Spencer Harbar’s session about scaling SharePoint 2016 farms (both 4.95), and Maarten Eekels’ session about Office 365 video (4.90) have made it to top 5 sessions.
Erwin, Paolo and Vesa have made it also to top speaker, followed by Jussi and Sahil. John P. White (MVP, Canada) made it at the 4th place, and Maarten Eekels concluded the top 5.
The best rated track was business, with average rating of 4.81, but closely followed by development track with 4.78. Average ratings for IT Pro track sessions was 4.72, and the Jedi Knights track had 4.69. Number of ratings was almost equally distributed between development, business and IT PRO (with developers in slight lead). Jedi Knights track has, as expected, drawn less attention, due to the very special nature of the sessions offered in that track.
Twitter kind of a freaked out about #SPCAdriatics tag J which was good. We had altogether 1162 tweets, with – surprise – tag SharePoint trending mostly.
Once again, thanks to John White for live dashboards with some PowerBI magic, which were showing session ratings and twitter stats in the real time. That was just awesome, and something that we will for sure be doing again.
Once again, thanks everyone for taking a part in this. We have heard it from many sides that this was the best SharePoint event in 2016 until now. It does make us proud, but we know very well that it would not be possible without you – speakers, sponsors, attendees. Y’all rock, as a certain Texan friend of mine would say.