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SP24: The 24-Hour Global SharePoint Conference

No product elicits the enthusiasm for training and professional development like SharePoint. People willingly give up family time on Saturdays to share their knowledge of Microsoft's collaboration platform.

Perhaps the most ambitious undertaking yet, the SP24 conference will be held April 16, when SharePoint professionals will gather on a global scale.

For 24 hours, starting at 10 p.m. GMT on April 16 with a keynote delivered by Microsoft Senior Product Manager Bill Baer, SP24 will live-stream two tracks of one-hour sessions devoted to SharePoint. When the conference ends at 11 p.m. GMT on April 17, a total of 48 live sessions covering business and technical topics will have been presented and viewed by a global audience.

As with SharePoint Saturdays, the event is being organized by a dedicated group of volunteers, led by Mark Jones of Collaboris, U.K.-based SharePoint partner. Jones is also founder of the SharePoint Community, whose over 5,000 members provided the inspiration for SP24.

Famous and Crowd-Sourced Speakers
While the final lineup of speakers has yet to be released, the SP24 team is aiming for a combination of SharePoint stars with lesser-known but crowd-supported presenters.

"We'll have well-known speakers from around the world," Jones said. "But there will also be sessions led by speakers who would normally not get the chance. The SharePoint Community is voting on the session submissions to crowd-source the final lineup." 

Preparing To Follow the Sun
Over 2,000 SharePoint enthusiasts are already registered for the free event, and promotion has barely begun. Since this is the first event of its kind, estimates are difficult, but the SP24 team is testing scalability to host up to 10,000 "delegates.", an infrastructure provider and a main sponsor, is working closely with the SP24 team to anticipate technical challenges.

To prepare for the potential hiccups of hosting a 24-hour SharePoint-athon, the team sought advice from other organizations that have held similar events. The biggest identified risk is Internet service interruption for speakers delivering from every corner of the globe. To offset the possibility, all sessions will be pre-recorded as a backup.  

Throughout the event, eight volunteers will work from a TV-production-quality "war room" to orchestrate operations. U.K.-based speakers can deliver their sessions from the facility in addition to the overall logistical coordination for 24 straight hours. 

Delegate Engagement
In keeping with the SharePoint theme of collaboration, SP24 will foster viewer participation during the day. Delegates are encouraged to gather in conference rooms to build on the collaborative atmosphere of a live event.

"We hope to get groups of people from one company to participate together and have a webcam ready," Jones explained. "During the day when we have some kind of downtime, we'll do live streams, asking those groups to tell us how they are using SharePoint."

Each scheduled session will promote participation, as well. The virtual session rooms will include the live streams, speaker profiles and chat rooms so that delegates can ask questions.   

Thirst for SharePoint Knowledge
Through volunteer commitment -- from organizers through presenters -- the end goal of SP24 is to provide accessible education for anyone interested in SharePoint. All sessions will be available online after the event, providing a free resource for end users and SharePoint professionals.  

"Because of the breadth and size of the product and its importance to most businesses, the community has to continually educate themselves to get the most from SharePoint," Jones noted. "The people in the SharePoint community are so willing to share their knowledge."

How do you share product knowledge with colleagues and users? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on January 23, 2014