As those who follow this site know, I had the privilege of participating in Gestalt IT Networking Field Day 4 in October 2012. I have also been blessed with an invitation to the Networking Field Day 5 event in March 2013. With the realization that not everyone knows what these and other Gestalt IT Tech Field Day events are all about, I wanted to write a brief article about what they are and what they mean to me.
The first thing that must be realized is what it is NOT. Networking Field Day, as well as the other Tech Field Day Events (Storage Field Day, Wireless Field Day, etc), is NOT a vendor conference. It is easy for an outsider to incorrectly assume these events are like Cisco Live or Microsoft Tech Ed. Such assumptions are incorrect for a few reasons.
The first reason is that these are invitation only events and for those who have an audience in the technical community. No one can simply pay a registration fee and become a Tech Field Day delegate. Second, it is not an event on a massive scale like a conference. A typical Tech Field Day event is broken down into several vendor sessions. The sessions have no more than 10 or 15 delegates, a handful of event staff and representatives from the sponsoring vendors. Due to the relative small number in attendance, the conversations are more personal, interactive, and productive than those at a conference.
One of the first questions that always comes up is in regards to the funding of such events. Being a blogger, with no real source of income from this area of my professional work-life, the travel expenses are of particular concern to me. Thankfully, this is covered by the sponsorship of the vendors and disclosed on any articles I write related to the event.
It is actually this method of funding that naturally keeps this event from being financially motivated. Sponsorship fees are equivalent between vendors and guarantee a fixed amount of time to present to the delegates in attendance. Having the costs covered by this sponsorship makes the experience possible for independent bloggers as opposed being an event only affordable to those with corporate sponsorship.
So what do I get out of this experience? I probably should actually turn the question around and ask, “What don’t I get from this experience?” The answer to the latter question is money. There is no monetary award for participating in or blogging about the sessions attended in a Tech Field Day event. Regarding the first question, there may be “gifts” similar to those found when visiting booths at a conference. This includes things like tee-shirts, pens, coffee mugs and other trinkets.
Networking Field Day isn’t just about getting more ink pens and coffee mugs. Far more importantly, I get to drink directly from the technology fire-hose with key technology leaders. Networking Field Day typically has really high-end presentations by high-level engineers from some of Silicon Valley’s brightest and most interesting companies. Furthermore the small group setting allows for more interaction than what is found in other events.
So what do the sponsoring vendors get from this? I like to think that the vendors benefit from the engagement of the delegates. From a vendor perspective, what is better way to gauge an idea or product than to bounce it off of people like Greg Ferro, Ivan Pepelnjak, Ethan Banks and other top influencers in our industry.
In addition to the interaction, high quality videos are produced. Barring any vendor restrictions or embargoes, these are typically available live and shared on popular video sites. It is not uncommon for a world wide audience to be viewing the presentation live. It is also not uncommon for the delegates to be live tweeting and asking questions posed by their friends and social networks. This creates a truly interactive setting with a technical audience beyond the four walls of the conference rooms.
The vendors also hope the delegates are delighted and excited by what they see. In those cases, the delegates often talk about the solutions publicly as well as introduce them to their own organizations and customers. Looking at the results and metrics page may provide a sample of tangible data that may be used to more quickly measure the impact of Tech Field Day event participation on a vendor’s marketing strategy.
So what does Networking Field Day mean to me? It actually means quite a lot. Working currently in an enterprise environment, it is possible to lose track of all of the current and upcoming changes in our industry. Being a lover of technology, as well as a blogger, this is considerably disconcerting. The Networking Field Day events allow me to gauge the direction of key areas of our industry and to get a better understanding of what others are doing to solve real-world challenges.
These events also give me an opportunity to step out of my environment and into that of others. This happens through the in-depth discussions that happen over a period of a few days. As a blogger, I love to share what I learn. Fortunately, I learn a lot at Networking Field Day. In that regard, the event becomes great source of content that I hope others find useful.
If anyone reading this article is presented the opportunity to attend a Tech Field Day event, I would strongly encourage them to find a way to make it happen. While it isn’t an avenue to “pay the bills”, I think it is an excellent opportunity to learn and network with others. For vendors who have or plan to sponsor a Gestalt IT Tech Field Day Event, I want to say thank you for making these events possible.
More Information about Tech Field Day
Disclaimer: Gestalt IT has covered travel and expenses for my attendance to a past event. Similar reimbursement will likely happen for at least one future event. No monetary reimbursement was received. This article itself was written without any restrictions or requirement to do so. My opinions on Gestalt IT and the Tech Field Day events are my own and are accurately reflected.