Opinion

View from the airport: IT Pro Live

As we look back at our first-ever conference, what have we learned?

As I write this, the sun is setting on the final day of IT Pro Live - our first ever flagship conference. For obvious reasons, it was a virtual event, and while I’ve no doubt that organising it as a physical one would have been much more difficult, this version was by no means a walk in the park. 

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Rather than starting with something modest for our first event, we decided to go all-out, with almost 40 sessions and 70 speakers across a full five days (you can find the full agenda here and the full list of all speakers here). 

When we told people what we were planning to do, many of them said we were mad – and I’m not entirely sure that they were wrong. It’s been a mammoth undertaking, but we managed to pull it together – especially given that we only had around three months in which to do it.

So what have we learnt from the process? My first takeaway is that organising a conference is hard. I’ve been to my fair share of conferences, trade shows and expos, and I’ve got newfound respect and admiration for the teams working tirelessly behind the scenes to pull everything together.

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I have a feeling that I’ll even appreciate the universally horrendous conference coffee that little bit more - knowing the amount of work that’s gone into it - the next time I attend an event (assuming we’re ever allowed to again).

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I also have a new-found appreciation for the depth of insight and expertise that exists within our industry. Each of our 70 speakers has brought something unique and valuable to the table, and every session I’ve watched has left me more knowledgeable than before. There really are some amazingly talented people out there, and I’m saddened that I can’t spend more time hanging out with and learning from them right now.

Getting this event together has been a physically and mentally draining experience – as I’m sure anyone that’s ever organised an event will sympathise with – but it’s also been an immensely rewarding and enlightening one. It’s been great talking to so many speakers and attendees about what makes them passionate, swapping war stories and discussing the Next Big Thing, in all its various forms.

While long-time readers may remember the Collaborate and Communicate event that we used to run, IT Pro Live is the first time we’ve put together a conference of this size, and although nothing’s set in stone and no decisions have been made, I’m already excited about the possibilities of what we could accomplish with more time, more experience, and without the shadow of COVID-19 looming large over proceedings.

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Although part of me wants to run a mile at the thought of taking on a project this demanding ever again, I sincerely hope we can bring IT Pro Live back for 2021, whether as a virtual event or as a physical one - or who knows, maybe both?

I’ve really enjoyed watching the show come together this week and I hope you have, too. For those that missed any sessions, they’re all still available to watch on-demand here.

As for me, I’m off to enjoy a series of large beers – after all, doesn’t every good conference need an after-party?

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