Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.

26Aug/13

Interop Las Vegas

During the last six months of my time at Slingshot SEO, I was fortunate enough to get approved for my first work trip. And catch this -- it was to Las Vegas!

Interop logoInterop is the world's largest independent IT conference (put on by UBM Tech), and they have a few different venues each year. The Vegas conference is the primary show, and it is attended by tons of IT pros, CIO/CTOs, and other interested parties.

First, I'll just be honest -- I love traveling by air. I love the airport experience, I love being in the air, and I love getting to stay at a cool hotel. Specifically, I got to stay at the Mandalay Bay resort on the South end of The Strip. For more on the venue and my time as a tourist, check out an upcoming post over at my video and photo site.

The conference has a few different options for attendee passes, including expo-only, main conference passes (Wednesday-Friday), and "All Access" passes, which adds all-day workshops on Monday and Tuesday. I had the latter.

Though there were many one-day workshops to choose from on Monday and Tuesday (and a few half-day 'shops as well), I chose one of the most popular sessions, the only two-day workshop offered: Principles of Effective IT Management.

Principles of Effective IT Management

This workshop has been taught by the same fellow for something like 15 or 20 years in a row now, but it is not stale. For one, many of the overarching management concepts don't change considerably with new technologies. But also, where appropriate, he definitely has updated his presentation (for example, "cloud computing" wasn't a common concept in the '90s, but it sure is now). His name is Tom Randall, and he is currently a VP of British Telecom Americas. He mentioned that when he retires (soon), he hopes to turn this presentation into a book, since there's such a dearth of good IT management books out there. This is a book I would read!

The audience was made up of a variety of guys (literally -- not many women in the room, unfortunately) of different ages and from different sized companies representing many different sectors. Amusingly, there was only one other 20-something in the group (and Tom made sure to entertainingly point out our youth on several occasions). The guy's name was Ted, and it was good to get to know somebody else in a surprisingly similar situation to me.

(Sidebar: The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay has a terrific Irish pub called Rí Rá; check it out if you're out there and like Irish food or Irish beer or Irish music or Irish people.)

Anyway, I took notes furiously. I'm an Evernote guy, so it's tough say "I wrote X number of pages" -- but printed, my notes would come out to something like 19 pages. And that's even with knowing the deck would be available after the conference, so I didn't have to record the content of each slide in my notes.

Just so much good stuff.

Though Tom's perspective and background is mostly in the large enterprise (in some cases even running an IT department of over 1000 people!), nearly all of the concepts and ideas still apply to the small and medium business world that I've so far been a part of. Some were good reminders, some were familiar concepts, and some were fantastic new ideas. New to me anyway.

I will discuss some of my main takeaways in a follow-up post to this one. This post has gone on long enough already. Suffice it to say the conference cost would have been well worth it even if I only came for the Monday-Tuesday workshop with Tom Randall.

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