Word is reaching me that Dell might have decided to cancel future TEC (The Experts Conference) events. If this is true, the last TEC was in Barcelona in October and it marked a series of events that was fun and full of good information, one that I only came to appreciate late in its run.
Associated with the rumor is the solid news that Gil Kirkpatrick, the father of TEC, has left Quest to become CTO at ViewDS. Gil was a major player in keeping TEC going ever since he started the event at NetPro (acquired by Quest in 2008). It’s not altogether surprising that he might decide to move on to other challenges as the prospect of working at a major corporation like Dell is not always appealing.
Of course, the rumors that have been shared with me might be just that and Dell is about to revamp TEC to make it brighter and better than ever before. I would very much welcome this if it was the case, but all my corporate antennae and experience of what happens following large acquisitions tells me that such a development is unlikely.
The problem is simple. Corporate America worships at the altar of financial data and the returns that companies extract from investments. Dell paid $2.4 billion to buy Quest last July and now it’s time for efficiencies to squeeze cost out of Quest so that Dell can say that their purchase was good for stockholders. The nicest way that this can be presented is to talk about “synergies” where Quest and the larger Dell work together to make the combination more valuable than had the two companies remained separate. Those who have been through the experience of the aftermath of corporate acquisitions might refer to synergies as “slash costs”, something that is always hard to do without impacting people.
The nice beancounters at Dell have very probably not ever attended a TEC event and so have no idea of the value that TEC delivers to various groups. Yes, I know that Quest uses TEC as a sales vehicle because they bring lots of their customers to the events to receive briefings on new products, but it’s always seemed to me that Quest has done this without getting into the face of the people who aren’t lined up to be victims of the sales force. The point is that the TEC sessions have usually been high quality and interesting to attend, even if you don’t quite understand the likes of Brett Shirley of Microsoft as he natters on about the wonders of ESE database internals.
From the perspective of the Exchange community, it would be sad if TEC goes because it will leave the conference schedule pretty bare, especially in Europe. TechEd isn’t much good because it attempts to cover too many technologies, MEC 2012 was excellent but we have to see how it goes in 2013, and Exchange Connections is a pale shadow of its former self. There are other more local events but not many, and it’s just a shame if TEC goes.
Perhaps you can help by telling the folks at Quest and their Dell overlords that any decision to stop TEC would be as attractive as dirty canal water. Your opinion might get a hearing if you’re about to buy a heap of Dell hardware. On the other hand, the word of the beancounters carries an awful lot of weight and if that spreadsheet cell says “cut”, it might mark the end of TEC. I wish Gil Kirkpatrick good luck in his new role but the other news about TEC is sad.
Follow Tony @12Knocksinna