This past week, Summit NA returned to an in-person event in Houston, TX. It’s been two years since the community (Microsoft Customers, Partners amp& Experts) has met face-to-face in this type of setting. As I sit on the plane heading home, the one word that continually goes through my mind is “Commitment.” Webster defines the word as; the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled. Commitment is synonymous with Summit NA this year.
As you might imagine, pulling this type of event off is never easy. Doing it in the middle of a pandemic adds a whole other layer of complexity. Yet somehow, 2,600 people registered for an in-person event and planned on coming. The number that showed up was less, but the ones that attended were committed to being there. You don’t just decide to have an event this size with Convention space, hotels, meals, etc., a few weeks out. There had to be a commitment to invest in this event some time ago, even as the Delta variant spread across the country including Texas, where the event was to take place. Dynamic Communities announced during the Keynote that they were committed to holding this event next year (Orlando) and in 2023 (site to be determined).
As for the attendees, personal and professional decisions were made to commit to this event. Some companies wouldn’t let their employees attend, including Microsoft. Others signed up months ago but canceled at the last minute for various reasons. For the people who did show up, there was a commitment to see this through. This wasn’t one of those conferences where you got to go out of town, attend the show for a few hours, and then do a little sightseeing. Life is a little more complicated than that right now. If you were in Houston this week, you were looking to learn from and connect with the community - that was your commitment.
Then you have the actual sessions that go on during the event. Over six Hundred sessions were planned during 3 1/2 days. These sessions were entirely planned and driven by the user community. This community is made up of end-users and experts passionate about their subjects and took an enormous amount of time to prepare for this and deliver content that other users in the community could benefit from. Oh, by the way, this is on top of their day jobs. It’s not like they are getting compensated. Their time and effort benefited the whole community, and the whole community owes them a tremendous amount of gratitude. Because of their commitment, this event ended up being something that 2,600 hundred people signed up for. I was lucky enough to talk to a few experts who put in countless hours of preparation and follow through to deliver on these individual sessions. To people like Kim D, Meenakshi S, Steve C (just to name a few) - thanks so much for all your hard work and passion. The community is in a better place because of your efforts.
Summit NA this year wasn’t perfect. Events like this never are, but it was in-person. In some respects, it felt like things had started to get back to normal. No one knows where we’ll be 12 months from now, but it could be Orlando if everyone maintains their commitment.