Well we are a few weeks on from this year’s annual conference event now, so it’s time for a recap.
A quick survey to gauge feedback will be issued shortly as well.
Continuing the North Island / South Island rotation, this year’s event was held in Auckland in the North Island.
Over 100 people registered to attend this year, with 20 individual companies represented, which made this easily the biggest NZMUG conference ever. Presenters came from both New Zealand and around the world and feedback from attendees has been really positive.
There were also many group members who wanted to attend, but were not able to for various reasons, whom we hope to see next year. Overall we had more user stories this year, but still had many companies who couldn’t present because their projects weren’t quite ready to talk about yet. Those who did present did an excellent job, and we hope to hear from more users next year.
This year’s Conference was held at the IBM NZ Head Office in Auckland, in the Wynyard Quarter which is nice and central to the CBD and waterfront viaduct locations.
The venue was a bit unusual, having an architectural bend in the room and a few columns, but did accommodate our large group well. There was a large foyer area outside and the main room could divided into a 1/3 + 2/3 configuration for our split sessions period.
Traditionally creating a relevant agenda for all users has been tricky to accommodate, given the different interests and needs of a wide range of users. A pre event survey was issued this year, which was used to map out an Agenda where the topics actively addressed the areas on interest within the NZMUG member community.
Running parallel streams on Day 2, focussed on Strategic and Technical aspects, allowed more flexibility and hopefully more targeted event sessions for users. It was interesting to see the split being approx. 70/30 in favour of the Strategic content stream, which I think reflects the growing numbers of managers and wider supporting staff attending the conferences.
I’d like to especially thank IBM for supplying the subject matter experts they did this year.
They were joined by quality speakers from User Companies, Business Partners and a guest speaker from Spark NZ on the topic of 5G.
Users were able to hear and discuss product developments directly with the IBM representatives themselves.
The NZ MUG continues to be a world class Premier Status User Group, and we thank IBM for recognising this and supporting the group as much as they did.
For a lot of our group members this is also an educational event, and often the only Maximo related training/conference they will be approved to attend. The intention is to maintain the user group presentation and discussion session focus, but with topic education sessions hosted by subject matter experts as well.
Simply a huge thanks to all speakers. Your efforts were clear and much appreciated by the group.
I’m really big on creating a fun and safe environment for people to speak freely, often referring to the group as being a family.
To those who are not totally comfortable standing up in front of a group of our size, you did exceptionally well and you should feel very proud. Thanks for the User contributions especially, and to the group overall for creating the supportive environment we have.
Also thanks to those who volunteered, or at least agreed to get up the front and join our impromptu user panel discussions. This spiced things up a bit and allowed the group to hear from fellow user experts in the field, and learn from your developments and experience. Nicely directed by Louis Stoop of IBM as well - thanks.
Some of the subjects can be a bit dry, and there’s no getting away from that, so we aim for 30 minute max sessions (25m + 5m questions). The hope is sessions are ‘zippy’ and ‘stay on point’ more than they have in the past, and we try to throw in a bit of humour along the way.
30 mins is definitely not enough for some topics, but the agenda is jam packed and users are encouraged to actively seek out presenters for more information afterwards.
It is always rewarding to see people interacting in the meal breaks and especially at the social events held during the conference.
The power of the networking component is not to be underestimated, and those who present especially always report getting more out of the event.
There is a genuine drive to ensure the event presented is actually what the users want, and of maximum value to attendees.
This year there were dedicated group discussion segments kept free every day. These were important to ensure the users still have a voice in the conference, and it’s not just a constant show and tell type event.
Feedback and participation is actively encouraged throughout the event, with many users maintaining or seeking out connections after the event too. The group does not respond well to sales focused sessions.
There was unanimous support for the current ½ day, full day, ½ day split, which sees 2 full days content delivered over 3 days.
This format allows users to remain for the full event and not miss anything because they had to arrive late or leave early.
Starting and finishing around lunch time provides enough time to travel to the event on the first day morning, and then back again on the last day afternoon.
We continued the ‘Solutions Expo’ from previous years, where IBM Experts and Sponsors lead smaller group discussions on a variety of topics.
This is akin to speed dating, with users rotating to any table that took their fancy every 15 minutes.
The vibe seemed positive, and the room was a buzz during this period.
On the second night, a dinner event was held at the Botswana Butchery restaurant.
The food was great, and the venue layout worked well as our numbers continue to grow.
User feedback from this seemed very positive, and it was a relaxing way to socialise after 1 and half days of the conference.
Socially this group is always a fun time, and it takes a long time to get around everyone for a catchup these days!
It was really impressive to see the high attendance rate flow over from the conference, with 85 attending the dinner!
Sponsors and Organisers
Primary sponsors this year were IBM, BPD Zenith and Certus Solutions, with further support from Clarita Solutions, as well as Eagle Technology, Grey Cell Matter and PowerPlan
The group wishes to thank these companies greatly for their ongoing support.
I’d especially like to thank Grant Newton of Transpower for all his efforts as Co Leader of the group, and Alice van den Berg of Certus for her significant input to assist with the event organising.
These two deserve special credit for their work behind the scenes. Again thanks to all involved, be that in organising, sponsoring, presenting or simply by attendance and participation. Nice work on keeping everyone to time too Grant!
Thanks also to those who have indicated they would like to support the group event management next year.
The assistance of Natasha Thomason, Madge Wilkinson and Kate Williamson will be much appreciated, as the management group is 100% voluntary.
The 2020 conference event will be in the South Island next year, and probably around mid November again.
We look forward to seeing you there, and are looking to put together an even more successful programme next time around!