Note from Lionel: I know Gina Rosenthal and many other folks on the Dell Storage team are really looking forward to an event that happening August 11 and 12 here in Austin called Tech Field Day. Dell is hosting Tech Field 7 here in Austin later this week. Given that, I thought it made sense to hear from Gestalt IT’s Stephen Foskett, who’s been the driving force behind Tech Field Day since he started it back in November 2009. If you can’t be here for it, you can keep up online via TechFieldDay.com or the #techfieldday hashtag on Twitter. With that, here’s Stephen’s post:
This week, Dell will host Tech Field Day, an event that brings technology thought leaders into contact with the companies that interest them. This group of “delegates” is made up of freelance writers, bloggers, user group leaders, and other independent IT influencers who rarely get a chance directly to interact with major companies in the IT space.
I know quite a bit about Tech Field Day since I have been organizing these events since they began three years ago. In that time, I’ve seen a community grow and flourish, with new voices rise to prominence thanks to their interaction at the event. We have seen established IT companies engage with individuals they would otherwise never meet, and have had a number of smaller companies launch and gain prominence.
Tech Field Day actually includes two days and three nights of activities for the delegates. We begin by getting to know each other on Wednesday evening, emphasizing camaraderie and community. We also host an informal “mixer” or party on Thursday evening as well as a wrap-up dinner on Friday.
Thursday and Friday are jam-packed with presentations during the day. Early each morning, the delegates board a bus to travel to the first company on the schedule. Each day includes four two-hour “slots,” each dedicated to a single presenting company.
Although eight hours a day of technology presentations sounds tiring, the interactive nature of the event energizes the delegates. Far from passive listeners, they are expected to engage with the presenters, actively discussing technology and products. We discourage “death by slides” and suggest presenters roll out whiteboards or hands-on demonstrations. And we encourage creativity and humor from the presenters.
Not every company is ready for this kind of open interaction, especially since the presentations and discussions at Tech Field Day are broadcast live over the Internet! But those that are willing to be part of the event see lasting benefits: Delegates learn about their products, and may even write or speak about them in the future, but they also give product feedback. In many cases, these discussions last long after the event has ended, with lasting relationships created.