You might have heard, but we recently held our first-ever global users’ conference, Extreme Connect 2018. Having played significant roles in these types of events over the years, I was avoiding the whole thing until about 6 weeks out. Then, it was a matter of preparing myself mentally for the typical mad dash of presentations, complaints, requests, and suggestions.
What Was It Like?
Don’t get me wrong. These events are invaluable, and I absolutely love our customers. It’s a bit like a family reunion, though. You stick close to your immediate family. You chat politely with the aunts you rarely see to make sure your mom doesn’t get an earful to hold against you. You sit captivated as your older cousins tell you about all their adventures. You do everything humanly possible to avoid that one uncle. You know the one. We all have them. You eat WAY too much. And you give thanks that you only have to endure it once a year.
Extreme Connect was different, though. Yes, we had 37 breakout presentations crammed into an unthinkably short period of time with keynotes before, after, and in between. However, that’s where the similarities ended. The complaints, requests and suggestions weren’t about products and features. They were about the need to have more time to attend ALL the sessions and training. In fact, customers were asking for even more content on top of the extra time. That one “uncle,” I quickly handed him off to one of our R&D leads during a reception, and he was practically giddy the rest of the conference. His only technical gripe had been resolved in a matter of minutes. So, he spent the rest of the conference providing ideas for future events.
Why Did Users Enjoy It So Much?
Perhaps it was the name, Connect. We were literally connecting people in new and powerful ways. Whether it was with R&D, outside industry experts, or peers during our Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions. The atmosphere of the event was one of community.
It may have been the theme, Elevate Your Game. Everyone embraced the challenge. As I stated before, they challenged us to raise the bar in the future. They took every opportunity to learn and benefit from those around them. It was exciting to be surrounded by so much drive, collaboration and creativity.
I haven’t even mentioned the times dedicated to purely having fun! At the Customer Appreciation Party, attendees were still connecting with each other and rocking out at the private concert with the X Ambassadors to top charting songs like Renegades and Unsteady. Then, we got to hear from the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in an engaging closing keynote presentation.
[My friends even got to meet the X Ambassadors]
Regardless of why Extreme Connect was so different, it clearly stood above the rest. Numerous customers made a point to comment that this was the best users’ conference they had ever attended. Then, they pointed out that this was our first pass. So, the bar had been set, and I couldn’t be more excited!
So, Where Are We Headed Next?
There are so many great things happening at Extreme these days. We’re finding our stride with all the different people aligning for maximum impact. We’ve developed a vision and roadmap that’s grabbing the attention of customers and prospects alike. People are reaching out daily looking to become a part of the Extreme journey. While the lofty expectations coming out of Connect should scare me, the truth is that I think they’re well below the potential for next year. The way things are shaping up, Extreme Connect 2019 will be as big a surprise for all of us as the inaugural event.
Of course, if you missed out on this amazing event, don’t fret. We can’t recreate the entire experience for you, but we can certainly bring a bit of the community, energy and content direct to you. Just talk to your local account team. They’ll be happy to bring out some of the same experts that were at Connect for the topics that most interest you. Perhaps, that’s just the taste you need to start planning your trip to Nashville for Extreme Connect 2019.
About the Author
Randy is a Senior Director of Product Management at Extreme Networks.Follow on Twitter More Content by Randy Cross