Microsoft Unifies Tech Conferences for 2015


Does this consolidation herald the end of topic-based tech events?

Microsoft has announced that it is consolidating five of its enterprise IT conference into one unified conference in 2015. The new conference, dubbed "Microsoft Unified Technology Event," will absorb the standalone events for SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Exchange, and it will co-locate to coincide with the popular TechEd conference. Redmond nixed the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) last year, and it looks like they also plan to channel former MMS customers, who attended TechEd in 2014, to the unified event.

According to a Microsoft blog post, the unified event is the place to be if you want to learn about "Lync, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Project, SharePoint, SQL Server, System Center, Visio, Visual Studio, Windows, Windows Intune, Windows Server, and lots more." The event is scheduled for the week of May 4, 2015 and will take place in Chicago.

One of the biggest reasons for this consolidation is cost. Big conferences are a big expense. Smaller IT budgets throughout the industry have reduced attendance at many big national and regional events, and some have disappeared altogether. The biggest risk is guessing how many visitors and vendors will attend. If the conference plans for a big crowd and few show up, losses can be staggering, and empty booth spaces with unpopulated aisles are not good for public relations. By consolidating the conferences, Microsoft saves money on conference overhead and also increases the probability for a critical attendance mass even if numbers are light in one or more of the disciplines.

Apart from the financial angle, it is also worth noting that Microsoft has been stressing integration of applications, systems, and services as a major focus, and integrating all these conferences into a single unified event helps send the message that these various components belong together in a complete ecosystem.


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