A few years ago I got the opportunity to fly out to Silicon Valley and give a presentation to a group of people at Wireless Field Day on behalf of a vendor, AirTight (now Mojo) Networks. It was a great opportunity to get in front of a group of people that lean-in a bit more than others in the wireless industry.
A conversation after that event led me to start this blog and eventually led to me having a spot on the opposite side of the table: as a Tech Field Day delegate for Mobility Field Day and Network Field Day.
If you don’t know what Tech Field Day is, I’ll try to make it simple:
Gestalt IT does a fantastic job of identifying influencers and people who take certain segments of the tech industry more seriously than others. Storage, Networking, Mobility, and more. These folks tend to ask great questions that others are interested in hearing the answers to, and they also usually blog or tweet the second they get an answer so they can share it with the world.
When you get people like this together and park ’em in front of a vendor for an hour or more, not only do they dig deep to get tough questions answered, but they feed off of each other to ask things that others might not realize. All of this ends up resulting in a fascinating live stream and recorded content that helps users understand the products, and vendors understand the users.
For Tech Field Day Vendors
From the Vendor side of the table, you get to air out your product in front of a group of people that are intelligent enough to understand what it does and how it works. The group will ooh and ahh with you over your product, but will also challenge what you are presenting to them; not to bully you, but to cut through the bullshit and get to how you can help them, the companies they work for, and the people who are watching or who will be watching in the future.
For Tech Field Day Delegates
From the Delegate side of the table, you get to see the latest and greatest in technology. You get insightful and exclusive opportunities to see the product and meet the people behind it, a chauffeured trip around Silicon Valley with Ramon, and the chance to network with peers and people you normally wouldn’t meet.
The networking side of TFD is incredible and occasionally ends up pushing delegates to the other side of the table.
Such is the case for me, and why I disqualified myself from being a Mobility Field Day delegate. This is a good thing.
My Thoughts on Vendors at the Tech Field Day Table
There is a pretty strict and unspoken “no vendor” rule with TFD, and that’s a good thing. My take on it is that it sets a level of comfort for the delegates where they can be free and objective about what they say, how they say it, when they say it. In the end, and in my opinion, the objectiveness is what sets the TFD series of events apart.
“Influencer” programs with vendors, bloggers, and social media takeovers are great, but they serve an agenda. With TFD, you get raw opinions not based on products, but based on technology and solutions. That’s not to say that there aren’t people that are huge vendor-specific customers in the groups, but they do their absolute best to keep their eye on the overall picture, and they do a great job at it.
Having vendors at the table would throw that balance off, even slightly, which is enough to cause it to spin out of control. Having been on both sides of the table, I have to absolutely compliment the entire TFD team for how they handle vendors and delegates to ensure that the balance remains.
It’s not an easy job when there is a combination of alpha-nerds in the room. There are vendors who basically practice gavage with their kool-aid while delegates who lose interest try to put vendors on-tilt with snarky questions (not saying I’m innocent there either!). But what’s not seen on cameras are Tom, Stephen, Megan, and Kat who are always there to herd the nerds. Without them, the heart of Tech Field Day, the whole thing would go nuts.
So, yeah, I’m bummed I’m not a Delegate for MFD2
A note on Gestalt IT
Stephen likes to remind us what the term Gestalt means, so I’ll throw this out there.
Gestalt is defined as “the idea that natural systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts.” I think that has absolutely everything to do with the event as a whole. Not just how the delegates chosen to participate are the hive-mind of a specific tech segment, but how the vendors play their part as well.
It’s a great recipe that produces great results, no matter what side of the table you’re on.