We're just back from the 2012 Kentico Connection in Denver, Colorado, USA. Keith, Sean, Fisseha and I went down to present a case study on ecentricarts' recent Bell Media project. All in all, it went grand, even with the obligatory Power Point technical snafu. Our target presentation time was 15 minutes which we were comfortably hitting when we practiced. Our real time was, well, let's just say there is a reason why we are soon to re-record the session.
The convention was a two day event with two main tracks: one focusing on business topics and the other on tech. Sessions were about an hour long and always ended with questions and answers. Most of the attendees were solution providers, i.e., competitors, who we readily gave the evil eye to. (More accurately, with whom we readily had a pint and a good chat). There really is a great community of people using this product. There were also a few potential Kentico CMS customers who had attended in order to do some diligence on the product. The solution providers were obviously rather keen on making their acquaintance.
We were one of the sponsors. A perk for doing that was being able to add something to the swag bag to promote ourselves. We went with this rather nifty infographic.
Highlights of the trip included a fantastic e-commerce workshop, access to senior Kentico big wigs and a sincere feeling that our feedback and aspirations for the product were being listened to. The guys from the Czech Republic are very friendly and professional. They are also really eager for feedback on all aspects of Kentico CMS. On the evening of the first night we all left the confines of the hotel and had a little fun playing pool, laser tag, and 10 pin bowling. I am happy to announce that, due to Keith's lethal aim, team Canada destroyed team USA. It is a good thing Mr Durrant was on form as the Northern Irish contingent of our team (me), came in last. If only Rugby were considered a team building exercise...
The content of the convention is obviously going to depend on the features being announced at the time. It did feel like a little bit of a stretch to extend the version 7 features across two days. I personally think that the convention could be improved with more workshops with senior Kentico developers on both new and existing features and more implementation presentations using real world examples.
The litmus test for any convention is to consider whether or not you will bother going the next year. We most certainly will, and perhaps even head off to the convention in Prague.