Straying Off the Beaten Path
I’m sure you have read lots of recaps regarding the frankly awesome Qlik Qonnections in Orlando in May. I guess you don’t need another one from me. All of the major takeaways have already been covered. Instead, i thought it would be nicer to focus a bit on the lighter side of Qonnections. I might be oversimplifying things, but since my Qonnections experience was a bit different this time around, i thought i’d take the time to share. So here’s a list of 6 alternative reasons you might get value out of a huge conf like Qonnections, apart from the obvious technical knowledge…
1) Enjoying the Scenery
During my previous couple of visits to Qonnections, i scheduled myself into almost everything. Hackathon, presenting, off-site events. This year, i decided to go back to basics. That meant arriving a couple of days early, and finding time, for the first time ever, to relax. And shop. Eat IHOP. And sit by the pool. You know, all the things you should do when you’re in Orlando, but struggle to justify because you’re in “Conference Mode” (Which loosely means not seeing daylight for 3 days). The relax part at the beginning makes it so much more enjoyable than dropping into General Session with 6 hours sleep and jet lag!
Relax. Take some time out. Honestly, it’s allowed!
2) Focus on Your Key Sessions
I came into Qonnections wanting to attend a couple of key sessions. The list was not voluminous, this year i decided to go for a few quality sessions. I’m really glad i did. In all honesty, I spent most of my time on the rather splendid Developer Track hosted by the even more splendid Qlik Branch. Personal highlights? #1 has to be the big reveal of Picasso.js, the new visualisation framework being used to underpin the new visualisations in Qlik Sense June 2017. When this goes open source, there will be a huge clamour to use it as it’s going to change the way we look at building visualisations in Qlik Sense. The ability to draw individual elements rather than parameterised variations of standard charts – sounds simple, but quite revolutionary. I was lucky enough to be in the demo session with Miralem Drek and Anders Nilsson, and this is powerful stuff. Can’t wait to get my hands on it! When? “Sometime…” was the official answer – make of that what you will.
Picasso.js – about the most awesome thing at Qonnections
Key session #2 – i have to call out Speros Kokenes and Justin Skaggs of Axis Group excellent session of taming the QIX Engine with Reactive Programming. Going into this session, i couldn’t tell my synchronous from asynchronous, but these guys did a great job getting the concepts of stuff like observables across in a short space of time. Check out their formidable rxQAP reactive wrapper for the QAP APIs on Qlik Branch.
Final shout has to go out to Qlik’s Juan Gerardo, and his conversational chatbot. What a superb demo, and a real eye opener in terms of the power of Qlik as a Platform. All sorts of techs combining to create a phenomenally user friendly bot that allows you to speak to your mobile device and get reactive charts back straight back. Way cool.
How do i build a chatbot? Seriously cool – ask Juan!
Plus too many other cool things to mention! But those were the coolest sessions i attended.
3) Seek Out and Meet Your Idols
No matter how long you’ve been in Qlik circles, there’s always people that you aspire to meet. One of the best things about Qonnections is how open the whole environment is. Qlik staff can be seen freely wandering about the complex and expo, and it’s actually really easy to meet lots of super-cool dudes. For me, i would class many of these guys as my idols, and i looked pretty hard to find some awesome people i never met properly before, as well as meet some old friends i still really look up to.
I would say there’s some pretty damn cool dudes in those pictures…
I never properly got to meet the QlikDork Dalton Ruer before, but what a cool guy. Apart from drinking green Qlik juice together, we talked about everything from the irony of Qlik Healthcare retweeting us eating about 10,000 calories at IHOP, to the NBA, to his roots coming through a small hospital and reaching Qlik itself. Dude!
The middle picture is a super-important one. That lady is Gillian Farquhar, head of the Qlik Luminary program. I owe her a lot for taking a big, big risk on me and putting me into the Luminary program. That is something i will never forget, and it was great to spend time with her at the Totally Rad 80’s Party – Pac-Man and all!
And the last one is one of my faves, and what i was talking about Qonnections being a nice environment to meet important people. Well how about meeting Qlik VP of Products Anthony Deighton at the bar? And it wasn’t just a “let me get you a drink!” thing, we had a cool discussion and got some insight into just how full a Qlik exec’s diary is during a Qonnections day – wow! Really nice guy, very approachable, and like i say – where else do you get that but Qonnections?
So, you CAN meet your idols. All you got to do is put yourself out there a bit 🙂
4) Party Hard and Socialise
This year, after overextending myself a bit in previous years, i decided to overextend myself a bit differently and party more. I will confess, i did miss a general session as a side effect, but it was worth it. In my opinion, you can’t really put a price on catching up with old friends and making new ones. Maybe the biggest and best takeaway from Qonnections. So valuable to spend time with all of these dudes –
Qlik Dev Group (Jason, Rich, Mat), Spotify Crew (Goran, Axel and crew – give me swag!), my fellow awesome, awesome Scots (George Beaton, Neil Martin, Stephanie Crooks), Qlik Branch staff (Ana, Tracy, Alex, Dave, Brian M, Rey, Wu – you’re all the best!), Qlik Social (Evan, Mark, Toni – Wax On, Wax Off – hayaaa!), Carly Wilson and Clare Lam @ Accenture (Tweet Demons!) the whole Luminary (Gillian and Viktoria especially!) and Branch communities, Websy, Vizlib
and way, way too many others to mentions.
And a special shout to my man Matthieu Burel – Brothers in Radar forever, man!
The best party – i have to give it to Qlik Branch. Shingle Creek was awesome and those Giant Jenga and more-intense-than-anything Connect 4 battles will live long in the memory. Great job, Branch crew, and amazing company Branch community – Carly, Clare, Speros, Matt, Martin, Ralf, David, Adam, Dion, Torben, Kevin (USA USA, USA Connect 4 craziness!) and everyone else – amazing night!
Some cool pictorial memories of most of these guys below. Like i say, worth missing an occasional general session, right?
5) Launch a New Company
I’ll grant that this one is entirely optional, but this year, i had a mission at Qonnections, and that mission was to launch DataGlow IT. I blogged about this already so will keep it brief, but i put a pretty large amount of effort into launching at Qonnections – website, business cards, social media galore – all nicely tied in with Anthony’s intervention in General Session noting my company and one of my extensions up there.
Summary – get your timing right and Qonnections is probably about the best place you can launch your Qlik company. Anywhere.
6) Grab All the Swag You Can
Part of my lighter approach to Qonnections meant i had to have a serious swag run this year. It’s something i have neglected in the past on the lame “i’m too busy” excuse. Not this time. This time i swag ran like my life depended on it, and even had to leave a pair of old shoes behind to get it all back home. I think i did well, though? What do you think? Highlights have to be that swanky DataRobot blue T-Shirt and my prized Qlik Branch hoodie.
I think this is like an 8/10 level swag run?
What was your top swag from Qonnections?
And now it’s over…
Until next year, Qonnections is a memory. But i tell you what, it was a hell of an enjoyable memory to create, and i think i have myself a blueprint going forwards…minus the new company launch of course!
I would be interested to hear what makes you tick at conferences.
Until next time (Maybe i’ll get to that Matrix teaser i posted a while ago, when i get my QlikView license issues resolved)
Hopefully we’ll go down the rabbit hole soon….