For the last 6+ months, I’ve been involved (with a few others) in helping to organize the first ever one-day conference in the UK dedicated to Microsoft Unified Communications – we call it UC Day UK.
What we’re doing is simple; we’re putting on a mini MEC (Microsoft Exchange Conference) and Lync Conference for IT Pros primarily in the UK (though everyone’s welcome) – including those working at partners, vendors and on the customer side, you are all welcome.
In lieu of an “Ignite Europe” it’s going to give you independent, real world, deep-dive sessions; the kind that you’d normally travel overseas for, right on your doorstep. You’ll get bang-up-to-date sessions on Exchange 2016, Skype for Business 2015 and for importantly the cloud-based equivalents in Office 365.
Why a UC Day?
One question I have been asked is why isn’t it just a generic Office 365 conference?
Really for Office 365 you need to cover many different areas – Office Pro Plus, Azure AD, Yammer, AD FS, Azure AD Sync / Azure AD Connect, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Office 365 development, Hybrid Search in SharePoint, not to mention Exchange Online, Skype for Business Online and bigger topics like workplace transformation, adoption or add-on offerings.
An Office 365 conference or summit really can’t be *done justice* in a single day event. It needs a few days to skim the surface and even over three days with multiple tracks we’ll end up with groups of people specialising in different areas.
So – we focused on IT professionals specialising in Microsoft UC, who are usually managing some sort of mix of Exchange, Lync/SfB in Office 365 and on-premises.
Office 365 is mature enough now that the offerings are complete enough and used in such complex ways that to get the most out of it still needs specialist skills. On-premises, the same rules apply. Wherever it is hosted I still see the same Unified Comms teams managing Exchange + SfB/Lync.
In the early days of Office 365 we all perhaps thought that there would be more crossover – and especially in mid-size organizations where there is a lot of new technologies added, and less specialist requirements, IT pros grow into a new more generic roles, but still need to understand some of the more critical things, like optimizing the network for Skype for Business online.
For larger enterprises though, the UC team is not going to start doing stuff like managing deployments of Office; that will stay with the same teams that dealt with that in the past. In some cases teams shrink but in general – because we’ve got so much new stuff coming out on a regular basis, change needs to be triaged and new features assessed to see the business value they add, then plans to adopt drawn up. It’s like getting to upgrade to a new version every few months!
With that in mind there’s more than enough content to cover in a single day, and the role of UC more than ever is important due to the explosion of adoption through Office 365. The tech’s there and ready to use – it’s up to us to deliver it to the business as a transformational solution.
What kind of content should you expect?
Our speaker and session list is still being decided – but even at this early stage we are looking at a multitude of Exchange and Skype for Business MVPs including MCMs in both areas. The absolute most important part of UC Day is to make sure that you go away having learned lots, from people who love their subject – and hopefully everyone will have had a good time doing so.
How much does it cost, where is it and when is it – and how do I register?
Registration for UC Day is open now. Tickets would be approximately £80-90 to cover costs – but thanks to sponsorship from some of the biggest names we are able to offer tickets for FREE for at least the first 500 attendees.
The format of the day is like any conference – registration opens early then after the keynote we will split up into a number of tracks, with attendees free to pick sessions. Breakfast and lunch is provided and we’ll run through till late in the afternoon. It’s going to be a packed day.
Better still we’ll also be having a pre-conference event the night before. This is a networking and social – a chance to have a few drinks with people sharing similar interests and we’ll stage a live recording of The UC Architects podcast. This’ll be rather special as we’ll be hosting it as a quiz. I’d try and dress it up, but basically we’re talking a pub quiz with UC questions. I might even buy disco lights!
Our venue is the National Motorcycle Museum, right by Birmingham Airport in the UK. It’s been home to the VMware User Groups’ national event for the last 4 years running and having attended two of those I’ve found it to be a great venue.
The date is the 28th September 2015 – so plan to arrive the night before, on the Sunday evening for the social event (partner hotel, TBD), so you can be fresh for the conference on the Monday. It’ll be a great day and in my opinion a very valuable day away from the office to learn from some of the best.