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Revisiting Ignite 2017: Keep on learning!

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Microsoft Ignite 2017 is a wrap, and after two weeks I finally feel like I’ve managed to win the battle with jet lag. It seems the older you get the easier it gets to travel West, and the harder it gets to travel East. As we’re expecting first snow in Finland any day now, I was relieved to visit Florida’s hot and humid climate.

On the way back home I had time to revisit what I learned during Ignite this year. It’s the largest event of the year for me, and now with the ‘tick-tock’ nature of Build in Spring and Ignite in Fall, we are getting more time to digest the announcements and changes. This also forces IT Pros and developers to be more focused throughout the year and pace your learning around both events.

First things first: Download content

I realize this is a binary thing, but I love having the Ignite content readily available. You can use a PowerShell script to download all sessions, including video and slides. It’s about 200 GB with the highest bitrate for videos. My approach is to download everything, and then filter out topics and sessions I know I won’t need. The old school approach is quick and efficient: simply scan through desired keywords in File Explorer in Windows (or Finder on macOS) and shift-delete the ones you don’t need. I even go as far as using PowerShell to run commands like Remove-Item *keyword*. 

Why download the content? They are readily accessible on Channel 9 and Youtube after all. For me, the reason is ease of use. I download all content to Dropbox and/or OneDrive for Business, and mark the ones I feel I need to have available offline when I travel. This way I can always enforce myself to keep on learning and don’t have the excuse to watch Game of Thrones re-runs.

What about the slides?

Many people are eager to get the slides, as every year we have a new vision for all things Microsoft. It is very tempting to skim through the slide decks and maybe copy a few well-crafted and beautifully visualized slides to your own presentations. I admit to having copied a few slides years ago as it is so easy. Why spend hours crafting your own, when you can just copy what’s already there? The slides look great, and the data is straight from the source so shouldn’t the presenters from Ignite be flattered we want to copy their vision as our own? You might see the problem there. I chose not to use any slides from Microsoft, unless there simply isn’t a way for me to craft my own. This typically applies to an individual slide that presents the inner workings of a cloud based service, which is simply impossible to make yourself. Even then I need to have attribution, and it cannot be the center of my presentation or talk. It’s just for reference to relay the message to your audience.

But having the slides available helps in learning new things. For me this is often evident as part of my job is to learn about the new. Just this week I was researching a topic for an upcoming customer project and I needed to ingest a lot of information in a few hours. With the Ignite slides I can scan through hundreds of sessions by keyword and learn exactly the things I need to learn at the right time. There’s a reasonable risk here that what you’re learning is too superfluous or artificial, especially if the topic is not something you’re already familiar with.

Recap slides

During Ignite I did a recap blog from the keynote, which you can find here. While spending time at the expo and talking to attendees, Microsoft staff and speakers I realized there’s a need to have a more cohesive way to recapture the announcements, previews and relevant tidbits from the week. This sparked the idea to create a set of slides that aim to include all this information in a no-nonsense format. There’s so many links to forms and services to activate these new preview features I quickly found out it’s hard to keep track of them all.

You can find these slides on GitHub, and they are free to use, reuse, and copy for your own presentations. If you find missing or incorrect information you can also commit back to this project. The aim is to have similar type of slides for future events, including Microsoft Build in the future, as well as other larger events.

What next?

The following weeks and months hold a few interesting virtual events I’m planning to attend. They are especially useful now that a lot of the preview features that were announced at Ignite are starting to trickle out in October and November, and we get our hands on with new features. The following events are the ones I’m planning to attend to keep myself constantly learning:

  • Microsoft 365 Virtual Partner Summit: October 18 – 2 hour virtual event – sign up here
  • Global Office 365 Bootcamp: physical event, multiple locations and dates – sign up here
  • European SharePoint Conference: November 13-16, Dublin, Ireland – see details here
  • Microsoft Connect(): November 15-17, virtual event – sign up here

Good luck, and keep on learning! 🙂