Reaching the Summit

05 Dec 2017

By Julianne Sparke

It has been a long-held goal of mine to attend a Microsoft Summit meeting on behalf of DDLS. For three years I've been putting forward a business case to support my attendance but have missed out on the gig to my colleagues, who held stronger reasons for attendance. Please don't misinterpret me, my employer is highly supportive but places are limited, and as the WA State Manager, I'm not as high on the priority list as I would like to be. However, if you work in the IT industry, it's a "not to be missed" event. So, you can imagine my excitement when I got the word that I could attend the 2017 Microsoft Summit and.... it did not disappoint.

Motivated by the opportunity to attend, I began to connect with loads of WA people prior to leaving and created a buzz as a DDLS representative. Microsoft have restructured this event and this year was the first time that partners, customers and vendors would attend at the same gathering. The thought of being under the same roof as so many amazing Microsoft technologists and world leading authorities on technology was overwhelming but I was determined to make the most of this opportunity and attend as many Summit sessions as possible.

The simplification of technology was a common thread which ran through most of the sessions. In addition the clear message conveyed was that technology continues to drive change: change in our behaviours, the way we interact, and the way that we communicate. The keynote speaker, Steve Worrall, was fascinating and adept at breaking down a strong technology message into bite-sized pieces and framing it to be accessible for his audience at all levels. Amongst the many and varied sessions, all of an extremely high calibre, was a standout session impressive on a number of levels, largely because the presenter is not only an accomplished technologist but is profoundly deaf and using technology to master her disability. She then introduced her colleague who is vision impaired, and yet, aided by technology, was able to "see" a screen. In other sessions, as expected, there was a great deal of discussion about a variety of apps and the subject of artificial intelligence.

But what does this all mean for our DDLS community?

The 2017 Microsoft Summit gave me an opportunity to develop a better understanding of our clients' needs. By meeting face-to-face at a like-minded event I was able to hear first-hand about the challenges and issues being faced by clients in their environment and discuss how we could better partner to achieve greater outcomes.

The DDLS team at the Microsoft Summit welcomed your input and insight - you've helped DDLS to focus on what you need.

It is obvious that it's becoming more difficult for our learners to spend three to five consecutive days out of the office without it affecting "business as usual". You've communicated that the traditional classroom learning environment is not always a viable option. You've also provided insight into how we can best accommodate the learners' needs. DDLS is working towards offering more blended learning solutions via different learning modalities. We are looking into creative solutions to absorb these learning challenges. Blended learning and flexible options with greater instructional support and coaching are just some of the ideas which are fast becoming a part of the DDLS learning experience. We are determined that our clients enjoy the best possible learning experience available.

All in all, I can say that the Microsoft Summit experience was a positive, enriching and empowering experience.

Oh and did you know that Microsoft has a Chief Storyteller? In a nutshell, his job role is to travel the world and spread the Microsoft message.... but that's another story.