WHAT a conference that was!!! Strategic partners of Lightning Tools (Combined Knowledge) organized an outstanding conference in London at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre last week. Attendees at the conference were comparing it to even the SharePoint Conference last year in Vegas!
The QEII Conference Centre
Speakers had travelled not just from all over Europe, but also from the United States to deliver what they considered to be “Best Practices”. Each speaker presented a subject that they excelled in, and instead of explaining ‘How To’ do something, they would explain ‘The Best Way’ to do something. This type of education is invaluable to anyone who is developing, supporting, administering, or just using SharePoint.
Zoe Watson and Steve Smith (SharePoint MVP) had worked the best part of 12 months to put on a conference that would not only be outstanding for the attendees, but would also be outstanding for the exhibitors and the speakers themselves.
As a speaker and an exhibitor, I can certainly say that we were very well looked after. At many conferences, attendees would try to avoid the exhibitors. The Combined Knowledge guys made sure that there was entertainment in the exhibitor hall at all times which would attract the attendees to the sponsors of the conference. This involved hiring a double of Queen Elizabeth to announce the sessions, Posh and Becks, and even Titan the robot! The result was that the attendees enjoyed speaking with exhibitors who themselves had a lot to offer in terms of Best Practices. Lightning Tools for instance focused on our new Social Squared tool and how using a third party Forums solution which vastly exceeds the Out-of-the-Box discussion list is a ‘SharePoint Best Practice’. Using such a tool attracts users to SharePoint, cuts down on email traffic, and allows discussion forums to be more easily managed.
The Queen Makes a Royal Visit
I joined forces with Christina Wheeler and provided a session on content aggregation. Completely ignoring our own rollup web part ‘Lightning Conductor Web Part’ we spoke about the benefits of content aggregation, the business problems it solves, and how to effectively use the Content Query Web Part. Of course, there was a mention by Christina that if you wanted to aggregate across Site Collections, then looking at a third party tool is the only option!
Brett Lonsdale speaking with Christina Wheeler
Rob Foster (SharePoint MVP) and SharePoint Pod show host and I delivered a session comparing all the possible ways of displaying External Data Sources inside SharePoint. This included the Data View Web Part vs Custom Web Part Development vs Business Connectivity Services.
I didn’t speak to anyone who didn’t get total value for money, and certainly the feedback was that attendees found it very educational.