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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
–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.
– 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.
– 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.
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.
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.
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!!!