Thursday, November 8, 2007

Widening the Divide?

Microsoft has recently announced that it is splitting its massive TechEd US conference into two week-long events, starting in 2008. One week will be focused on Developers, the other focused on IT Professionals. In some ways this is probably going to be a good thing, because the event will be able to provide more content to more attendees without getting even more insanely large than it already is.

But in other ways, this worries me. And I'm not simply worrying about people (like myself) who fall into both categories and who (probably like myself) will not be able to take off two full weeks to attend both conferences. Although that is a concern.

The real worry comes down to the cultural divide that separates software developers from the people who support the software that the developers build. These two groups of people speak different languages, have different priorities and have very little context in common, for all that we are all "computer people." As they say, developers are from Neptune, and IT pros are from Uranus.

So why does this worry me?

Well, whenever people (especially people from different factions) get together and meet face-to-face, and talk without the artificial barriers that so often divide them, they tend to "get it" and to get along. TechEd has always been a great place for me to meet up with my developer friends from around the world AND to meet up with my IT pro friends from around the world as well.

What will we (that's the collective "we" in case that doesn't come across clearly in text) do? How will these two interdependent but distinct communities get everything they need from each other without the "United Nations" function that TechEd has traditionally served?

Of course, there's no answer to this question today. Only time will tell...

1 comment:

Dick Carlson said...

Unfortunately, choices like this are driven more by marketing concerns than what would be most effective for the attendees. There is an assumption that the "message" can be more tightly focused on each group, rather than having to have a wide range of disciplines in the room.

It would be a fair question to ask where the actual customer feedback supporting this division is, and who developed it. The majority of the attendees I know feel that the DEV/IT-Pro divide is pretty much imaginary, and doesn't represent the real world they live in.