Once again I am humbled and happy to be invited by the GestaltIT crew to join them at Storage Field Day 17, this time from 19-Sep to 21-Sep and in the Silicon Valley. More info on the event: www.techfieldday.com/sfd17.
Storage Field What?
This acclaimed event series is well known by a sizeable portion of the data center / cloud / IT community, but perhaps it is a new format to you. GestaltIT organises events with different topics (networking, storage, cloud, mobility, etc.) but in essence the format remains the same: companies get a unique opportunity to present their products / solutions to a hand-picked audience of industry influencers, bloggers and subject matter experts (usually 9 to 12 people, called “delegates”). Each presentation is recorded on video (for posterity and glory) and also streamed live on the internet in most cases.
Let the damn presenter talk!
One of the most common misconceptions of people watching a Tech Field Day video is “FFS, why these folks keep interrupting the presenter? Let the poor presenter deliver their presentation already!”. And that’s where the watcher doesn’t gets the concept quite right. Tech Field Day (Storage Field Day, etc.) events are not a uni-directional event where delegates are flown in and ear-fed with vendor propaganda. The value proposition of Tech Field Day is that those delegates (who usually are respected practitioners in their area) are able to react by questioning, challenging, engaging the vendor to provide more feedback and generally also trying to provide their own feedback to the vendors.
On rare occasions, delegates may also call out the vendor if they are outright trying to deceive the audience or saying nonsense. Rough? Perhaps. It’s one of the risks when presenting to such an audience: everybody can say whatever they want, but they will be held accountable if they say something utterly nonsensical. But the delegates aren’t there just to rip through vendors (as is sometimes unjustly said). Often, they will help a presenter clarify a point which may be trivial to them but not for the broader audience watching the live stream. They may also help steer the discussion back on tracks.
“But that sounds pretentious!” Not necessarily. First of all Tech Field Day events have become an important institution not only for major vendors, but also for startups getting out of stealth. It gives them a unique audience and the possibility to interact with the delegates. The vendor’s organic social media reach is amplified by the own social media audience of each of those delegates, who usually live tweet during the presentations. When great presentations are given, this may result in extra exposure in the form of blog posts from the delegates. When awesome presentations are given, these may join the hall of fame and will be remembered fondly. To some vendors, presenting at Tech Field Day has become a critical part of their communication strategy; the Tech Field Day presentations often make it to the vendor’s home page these days.
Becoming a delegate
“Wait, you keep talking about delegates. Isn’t that some sort of old boys club?” I don’t think so. Almost anybody can apply to become a delegate, and diversity is also much welcome. Applying doesn’t guarantees that you will be selected, but it’s definitely worth a try. Some people apply themselves, others get “hunted”, what matters is that the GestaltIT team goes to great lengths to select not only relevant people, but also great human beings.
This is really a short way to put it. I love joining Tech Field Day events. It is a unique occasion to spend time with some of the industry’s most brilliant and funny minds and a great opportunity to learn. The downside to it is that you may be hit by “post-TFD depression”, i.e. the return to your average, ordinary life after much awesomeness. On another hand, it’s a great way to challenge ourselves and want to start something new.
I’m therefore very thankful for the GestaltIT crew to have considered me once more. If you are left wondering about what influence participating as a delegate can have on your life, here’s a post I wrote two years ago about the influence Tech Field Day events has had on me. I’ve added a few more events in-between, and that’s notwithstanding the venture I have joined at TECHunplugged.
For someone like me working into consulting and influencer marketing services, it’s always a fantastic and unique opportunity to engage not just with my peers, but also with vendors and prospective customers.