Recently we decided to interview a number of people who have been involved behind the scenes of UC and Cloud Day. We quizzed them to show that UC Day isn’t just any normal IT Conference, but THE leading community led conference within the United Kingdom/wider EMEA Region.
In this post we have spoken with the founder and brain child behind the UC and Cloud Day conference, Andrew J. Price.
Tell us about yourself?
Hi, my name is Andrew Price and I’m the main driving force behind this dedicated Microsoft UC and Cloud Conference. UC Day focuses on Skype for Business, Exchange, Office365, Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. Now that’s a sentence I have said too many times during the course of 2016 but I will never be bored with saying it as each time I am filled with pride to bring this to the UK.
When I am not running this substantial event I work as a Technical Consultant for Freedom Communications based in Watford. I deliver Skype for Business solutions to a myriad of organisations from education authorities to large corporate customers. Since October 2015 I have been recognised by Microsoft as one of their Office Servers and Services MVP’s based in the UK because of my community contributions to Skype for Business and Office365. Being MVP for me is a great honour to be acknowledged alongside some well-known names including Tom Arbuthnot, Steve Goodman and co based in the United Kingdom.
I truly believe the crucial contribution in helping me achieve my MVP award was the remarkable success of the first UC Day event I put on back September 2015. I also run other great events like the now re-branded Microsoft Cloud User Group, formally UC Birmingham User Group.
In my down time I like to relax with my family, enjoying home life watching films and planning day trips out. You will also find me during some of my weekends at CPPS, which is the largest paintball tournament site in the UK as I have been a semi-professional player for 3 years.
So how did UC Day come about?
UC Day was an idea that was planted in my head by Steve Goodman and Jason Wynn whilst I was running the UC Birmingham User Group. Myself, Steve and Jason all met up at a local garden centre cafe of all places where we began making plans about this new unnamed conference. In the end it took 14 months from the initial planning stages to final delivery of the first event of its kind in the UK. Since showing that you don’t need a big budget to run an attraction like UC Day, I have had a lot interest from around the globe about how I did it, the lessons I/we learned etc…but I won’t lie, there were many moments where I questioned myself about the task I had set. However, through much dedication and perseverance, you can see we are now proceeding towards our 3rd year with bigger and bolder plans.
How did first event go back in 2015?
The first UC Day exceeded all of our expectations! We had a number of challenges on the day of the event but managed to resolve them quite quickly and this gave me a lot of food for thought for the following year. We managed to attract 300 attendees that all enjoyed 18 sessions ranging from Skype for Business, Exchange and Office365 on a very small marketing budget.
One of the biggest surprises was number of attendees from outside the UK that made the trip over for our experience as we never actually set out to market in the wider EMEA.
How did last years event go?
Last year we sought to surpass 2015 by including 2 more additional tracks, changing the venue layout/traffic management and improving upon the already exceptional catering which was a huge hit with attendees. We enticed even more European attendance from Holland, France, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Ireland which was a pleasure to see.
The tracks we included were Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. We believe these tracks were a massive success luring additional celebrated names from within the community to deliver more excellent sessions.
Another great addition was “The Skype Show” (now known as Three65.live) run by Mark Vale (Office Servers and Services MVP) who was interviewing our sponsors and speakers throughout the day. You can catch the recording over on the Channel 9 website:
What can you tell us about 2017?
We are in the very early stages of planning but you can expect very much the same as 2016. However, if an improvement to any aspect can be made then rest assured we will strive to make it happen. We are currently in discussions with other parties to see if we can introduce new features for 2017.
So far we have managed to secure our Gold and Silver Sponsorship allocation for 2017, and working hard to attract more sponsors.
Why is an event like this free?
The common trend for events in the UK is that if you charge, you can expect a low attendance but if you make the event free you may just receive a better turn out. I would like UC Day to be similar to a miniature version of TechEd but without the vast price tag to attend. The quality of sessions you can see at UC Day are exactly the same as all of the big Microsoft events including the acclaimed Ignite. It’s far more achievable to gain attendance from all over Europe as it’s plain to see the value of a cheap flight/hotel to come to Birmingham for this event.
Where do you see UC and Cloud Day in 5 years?
My aim for UC and Cloud Day is for it to become Europe’s premier IT community conference and attract over 1000 people each year. I know there’s a lot of hard work from today to reach my goal but I am confident it will be all worth it in the end. I will be working closely alongside our sponsors, Microsoft and a number of Microsoft communities run in the UK to ensure it happens.
Where else can we can we catch you?
You will most likely see me at the first Microsoft Cloud User Group meetings happening on 9th, 16th and 23rd February. Make sure you don’t miss out on these great User Group gatherings. Check out the website at http://www.mscug.com
Last word from myself, I sincerely look forward to meeting everyone again over the course of the year as well as hopefully many new faces.
Andrew J. Price
Founder of UC Day – Office Servers and Service MVP