|By Corey Roth||
|January 25, 2013 11:00 AM EST||
As someone who has been a member, presenter, officer and board member of various user groups, I've come up with some observations on what makes a great user group. I would never call myself an expert on the subject (I reserve that for @Victor_Chat), but I think this is some good advice.
DO encourage and participate in a SharePint
Yes, I'm actually listing this first. More of the connections and relationships happen here than when mingling before the group. Attendees get the opportunity to let loose and it's a great way to get to know people. If you have questions, this is where you get them answered. The Houston SharePoint Users Group (HSPUG) does this right. It's not uncommon to see 40+ people at one of our SharePints. We actually have sponsors for it. :)
Some of the smaller groups tend to have one or two people that do everything. Ask for help and you will likely get it. There are usually people willing to help out. People can help with everything from signing people in to ordering food. If you're a member and want to help out, don't be afraid to ask what you can do.
DO encourage new speakers
You don't need big name speakers to have a good user group. Encourage new speakers to present to the group. When I was at Tulsa, we encouraged new speakers at every session. It was usually pretty effective.
DO seek out officers from diverse backgrounds
It's great to have officers from different backgrounds. Employ a healthy mix of consultants and non-consultants. Do this even if the officers work for a competitor. It shows that you aren't trying to dominate the user group with your company.
DO encourage others to meet up outside of the user group
This is something Houston is playing around with. We live in a large city and are encouraging members to get together throughout the month at a local bar or restaurant. We're still judging the success on this as I think it's yet to establish it's rhythm yet.
DO post your topics early
This sounds easy in theory but now that I have been involved with a few groups, I know it's not. Ideally, you want to line up multiple speakers months in advance. It is great if you can have these posted to the web site, include them in your communications, and even announce the next topics during each meeting.
DO engage in social media
Some groups do this better than others. Although probably less than 10% of your user group is on twitter, it's still a good way to remind users about what is going on throughout the month.
DON'T be afraid to ask questions
As a member, don't be afraid to ask questions of the presenter, the officers, or other members. Chances are there are users there that face the same challenges as you.
DON'T use vendor spotlights in place of presentations
Although it's great to support your sponsors, your users are there to learn not to be sold to. It's ok, to let a vendor spend two minutes before a presentation and say hey thanks for letting us sponsor. However, it should never be used as a replacement for finding a speaker. Your users don't like this and it will drive them away from the group. Most user groups allow the vendor to set up a table and buy beers afterwards. This is more effective for them than giving a full-blown sales presentation.
DON'T use the user group to promote your business
I attended a user group once where the self-promotion was so bad it made me sick. The first words out of your mouth shouldn't be about your company. The best officers I have seen have never even mentioned where they work once in front of the group. Your members will only tolerate this for so long before they stop coming. I've seen this nearly destroy groups before. It's ok to talk about your company afterwards over a beer. However, it's unacceptable to spend 15 minutes before the meeting talking about your company. Plus, this severely cripples sponsorship opportunities. As someone promoting your own business, you would never allow a competitor to sponsor. Plus, your competitors aren’t going to want to sponsor a corrupt user group anyways. Just don’t do it.
I remember one time in Houston, where someone did a 10 minute case study on a solution they built. Some of the members felt it was a bit salesy and were about to run them out the door. In reality, I didn't think it was salesy at all. The presenters were developers not account managers. However, you always have to be careful when doing case studies because they can come off as a sales pitch if you’re not careful.
Make your sales the old-fashioned way by playing golf, buying beers, and going to expensive dinners.
I may have bragged a little bit about my user group, but hey, it’s pretty awesome. Seriously, if you’re ever in town the third Wednesday of the month, you should make a point to attend. :) Hopefully, you find some of this information helpful. What tips do you have for user groups? Leave a comment and let me know.
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Jul. 25, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,344
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Jul. 25, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,001
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jul. 25, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,389
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Jul. 25, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,153
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 25, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,217
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
Jul. 25, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,249
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,875
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,489
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,268
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,503
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,988
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,959
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Jul. 24, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,127
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 24, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,467
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,857
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,700
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,062
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,933
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,766
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,368