SMB Nation – Day 1

After a hearty breakfast I headed off to attend the opening ceremony of SMB Nation 2009.


Whacking Weasels – Making the most from SMB Nation 2009


After a brief intro from Harry Brelsford, Wayne Turmel kicked off the conference with some interesting assessments of SMB Nation. I agree with his major point that you need to seek others out at the conference from whom you can benefit from. This being my second year, I have become critically aware that this is extremely important and hopefully something I can make the most of.


Now came the keynote for the day:


How to be relevant in the cloud computing world – Mike O’Brien (Zenith Infotech)


I think perhaps the title of this presentation should have read more like, ‘How to compete in a flat world’ because it focused on product provided by Zenith around outsourcing of IT. This is really the way everything is going and there are some people take great advantage of services like this. The success of business like Zenith strongly reinforce my opinions that most IT (especially, infrastructure) has become a commodity. A traditional business model will no longer succeed and Zenith is one direction you could take to remain competitive.


An interesting stat divulged was that apparently 3,000 businesses a day sign up for Google Apps. Interesting to know whether it is in fact true.


Next was:


GS402 – Virtualization for the SMB World – Wayne Small & Dana Epp.




A very relevant and informative presentation however it was hampered a poor connection to the Internet which was out of the control of the presenters. However, as the Internet continued to drop out (again, through no fault of the presenters) it made the presentation appear unprepared, which is far from the truth. The other thing that counted against the presentation was the room layout, very long and narrow, which made the screen very hard to read the further at the back you were. It concerns me that this is the room I’ll be presenting in so I’ll have to do what I can to make it better.


Overall, when I talked to other people who attended the session during the day they gave a generally favourable response, which is good given the work the guys invested in preparing the presentation.




SM302 – How to become a Twitter Twenius and profit from social media – Dan Hollings




I thought this session was rather poorly attended actually, especially given the focus on social media at this conference (having its own track and all). When I talk to people during the breaks. it seems to me that most are still attending all the ‘tech’ or ‘geek speak’ sessions.


I did get a few pointers from the presentation but was a little disappointed that it didn’t go further. I suppose it is hard to determine exactly where to pitch these sorts of presentations. Do you start at the beginning or do more advanced topics? Given that you have no idea what level your audience is, not easy by a long shot.




CSS3 – Profit from the cloud. Become a Google Apps reseller – Jeff Ragusa




This session turned out to be poorest performer of that day for me. The content was fine but the way it was presented gave me the impression that the whole session was simply thrown together at the last minute. I would say that it was not a ringing endorsement of Google Apps at all. I think that the layout of the room didn’t help at all, with an extremely small projection screen making it very difficult to actually read what the slides said. All in all there was worthwhile information but I felt that it was delivered very hap-hazardly.


Note the baseball cap in the lower right of the picture. The story is at the end of this post.




BS301 – Selling IT Services: How not to suck at it! – Stuart Selbst




Probably the pick of sessions for me today. Was perhaps let down by the colours used in the presentation. They were very hard to read under normal lighting which detracted, at least until the lights were turned off, from the start of the presentation.


I have followed some of Stuart’s work over the years and have always been very impressed by his content and focus. It was a bit of a shock to see how confronting he is in person. I have no issues with that but it is not exactly what I expected. In the end what he is telling you about selling is all common sense. However, in many cases you can’t see how simple it is until you have it pointed out to you. Although some of the ‘home truths’ are confronting and abrupt they are totally on the mark, as is Stuart.


Now the story of my new CIAOPS hat. I was talking to a bloke in a shop that sells embroided hats here in the Hotel and turns out he was having trouble with his internet connection. His issue was configuring his Netgear router and he had been on the phone to Netgear for 2 hours trying to get it to work with no luck. I said I’d happy have a look at it if we could do a deal on a CIAOPS hat. He said sure, so I went to work. A few minutes later I had it all up and running as well as a nice new CIAOPS embroided hat. A good deal was had by all with this transaction I believe.


Tomorrow morning is my SharePoint presentation at SMB Nation. It is GS202 in Capri 114/116 if you are here at the conference. Also don’t forget my podcast from the tradeshow floor with Karl at 2:25pm local time. I’ll report on both here tomorrow but now it’s off to put the final touches on my slideshow.

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