Building the Future is done for this year. Microsoft Portugal delivered again, made it happen and set the bar for fully remote events.

Disclaimer

As Microsoft partners, we sponsored the event, but this content is not sponsored.

Microsoft is our main partner for Data & AI solutions.

Doubts

We had our doubts this year for the Building the Future. I think that everybody had doubts about it. Period. Things like “it will be not the same” or “people don’t have focus in remote events”, all came to our minds and words on phone calls or instant messaging.

I think all the doubts and question marks were legit. I had mine also.

The ability for Microsoft Portugal to deliver the experience that happened right before this pandemic (2020) was critical. The engagement, the networking, the content and the “fun” all done remotely with this scale (around 20k people) ? Hard stuff with even higher goals.

The event platform

A complete fully remote event at this scale, Microsoft Portugal had to know that technology that sustain this massive scale was there. And you know what? It was, i’d say mostly flawless! (here and there some glitches, nothing that affected the user experience).

BTF plataform was a joy to use, simple, fast enough, mobile friendly. Messaging other people, meetings or other “social” stuff was a breeze.

Some things that personally impressed me was the feedback in the “chat” platform during the keynotes or during most of the important talks. When the subject is good, people tend to engage.

This was the first “signal” that this thing was going to be a massive engagement event. I got this signal on the first “keynote” around in the morning in the first day. Messages and emojis were flying over the chat window. Even the popular host (Filomena Cautela) and other keynote speakers that had their talks recorded went to the chat to answer questions.

The event content

We had our slice on this, with our talk about the fastest database on the Azure (CosmosDB) for “Building the Code” and also as expert talk our approach to a modern DataOps.

This is where a fully remote event really shines and Microsoft knew this. The ability to “view later” or on demand (Netflix-based-approach) to the content (Building the Code and Keynotes) was a major plus for the event.

Our agendas are mostly full of Teams meetings and it can be challenging to be available for that talk about Minecraft and Education.

Or imagine, you want to see it with your kid that is on virtual classrooms at the time of the talk.

In the end content depends from one person to another and what kind of subject your are searching for. Microsoft Portugal focused on a nice balance on most of the topics, making sure that sustainability, environment and education were a priority for less “technical talks”.

“Trying to sell” Azure talks were not the focus and i very welcome this. Instead explaining the problem and how technology helped the solve the problem is a much better approach in my opinion.

What can be improved

All things can be improved, even if we brand it as massive success.

On my side, some things that can be improved for the next year(s):

  • Limitation of participants on Expert Talks should be optional. We had some complains about people that were not able to join due this limitation.
  • Full screen playback 🙂 .It is easy on the eyes. And if you are showing code or a computer interface it is easier to read.
  • Expert Talks platform can have a better integration with the whole experience of BTF.

Final words

For companies like ours, these kind of virtual and remote events fits much better. We usually deliver on expertise and know-how on cutting edge tech and we don’t have a oiled marketing and network machine.

It allowed us to meet new people, to have some have leads, to have young talent directed to us and allow my colleges to improve with all the technical stuff that was there. This is what you want from a event like this, right?

In the end, massive accomplishment by Microsoft team! The bar is now higher for remote events. I’m pretty sure that the competition had taken some ideas 🙂

Congratulations!

 

Luís Marques

Chief Technologist