2013 marks the 20th anniversary of TechEd! In that time we’ve held the Conference all across the country, from Melbourne to Cairns. In fact, did you know that if a delegate were to travel from each location to the next back to back they would have covered enough distance to travel around the world twice – quite the journey, and a good reflection of the journey that TechEd has been on over those 20 years.

At Microsoft’s first TechEd conference in 1994, we gathered to talk about the industry transformation from mainframe to minis to client/server computing. The vehicle for that transformation was the Windows operating system.

Back then, Microsoft had just launched Windows NT, which was touted by Bill Gates as “nothing less than a fundamental change in the way that companies can address their business computing requirements.” Fast forward to the current day and Windows is undergoing another transformation as we look towards the release of Windows 8.1, enabling a whole new generation of devices and experiences. Now we have a PC that looks and plays like a tablet, or a tablet that can work like a PC.

The computing ecosystem has changed entirely since the inaugural TechEd, with new technologies and powerful devices transforming the world of business – and society at large. Big data, cloud and mobility are just a snapshot of the trends that have impacted businesses over the years – I didn’t even mention the introduction of the Worldwide Web, email, or network security. Such capabilities have influenced each and every one of us, and it’s our role to ensure users have access to the tools and knowledge empowering them to successfully address the continuously evolving IT industry and enhance organisational performance.

IT is an everlasting stream of innovation, and tasked with delivering that change are IT Pros and application developers who today would be unrecognisable to their 1990s selves. Twenty years ago
IT Pros were bogged down with mundane manual processes, such as rolling out desktop PCs within the workplace. It really was a break fix role. However, as IT has advanced and trends such as cloud computing, enterprise IT, BYOD, and big data have grown, the role of the IT Pro has dramatically changed – they’re no longer the bearded geek in the back of the room. Instead, IT Pros today are seen as heroes of the workplace, automating processes which were once manual, delivering access for a variety of devices connecting to the IT network, as well as still rapidly resolving any IT issues that arise. Today, the role of the IT Pro is far more strategic to the IT vision of the business, and given the complex nature of the job it’s no surprise to see them operate in teams today rather than a few individuals like in yesteryears.

Application developers have changed a lot too. Developers would have been programming enterprise desktop applications in the early 1990s, with a small handful designing offerings for the recently launched Worldwide Web. Yet as technology and its capabilities have advanced the opportunity for developers has boomed in both enterprise and consumer spaces. Developers can now create data and media rich applications for smartphones and tablets, plug-ins for websites using HTML 5 and Java, programs for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or applications that automatically speak with one another to relay important system information.

IT has played an increasingly important role for businesses since the early 1990s, with its capabilities and the people developing it becoming a driver for innovation, new revenue streams, and business productivity and satisfaction. It has become a vital component of almost every business across Australia and the globe, and the solutions and people responsible for it are one of the most important assets a business has.

This year also marks the fifth consecutive year we’ve held TechEd Australia on Queensland’s Gold Coast. In that time we’ve learnt – away from IT – that:

• Delegates will consume 9,200 soft drinks over the four days
• 40,600 cups of coffee will be drunk by delegates at the event – that’s four cups a day each
• Each delegate will walk up to 10.7km while on the Gold Coast
• On average the Conference helps fill 10,000 hotel room nights each year

Despite all of the change that surrounds us, we have a simple, consistent mission at Microsoft – to help you to realise your full potential, and TechEd is just one of the ways we seek to achieve that. We’ve come a long way and drunk a lot of coffee together since the inaugural TechEd in 1994, and we look forward to seeing you on the Gold Coast for the 20th anniversary celebrations! 

 

Jeff Alexander, Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Australia