TechEd India 2009, Summary of Community activities

Charminar, Hyderabad To summarize: In my 10+ years of community engagement, I would say, TechEd India 2009 was the most successful in terms of community involvement. As beautiful as the famous Charminar of Hyderabad. (see picture on left).

Organizations like INETA APAC, Culminis, PASS and Microsoft India, jointly engaged in bringing all user group leaders together, promoting the respective user groups and enabling great networking opportunities between the leaders and attendees of TechEd India.

About 1 month before TechEd volunteers from INETA APAC, Culminis, PASS, Microsoft India team, and Microsoft UGSS, India Community Councilformed the India Community Council(ICC),  an initiative spearheaded by Microsoft User Group Support Services(UGSS). The objective was to align the efforts of the various organizations in a country and to explore areas of synergy. TechEd was the perfect ground to see the power of the ICC. And they definitely proved their mettle. Further invaluable help was provided by Ashwin Kini, the Culminis APAC chair.

A plan was made to engage the community along the ideas stated in the left column below:

1. Encourage community participation pre-TechEd 1.With Microsoft India’s help, a discount of 25% was negotiated for all User group members wishing to attend TechEd.
1.1. A template was made available to leaders via which they could announce this benefit to members.
1.2. Members interested in the offer were given a survey url to indicate their interest. A day before TechEd volunteers provided this list to TechEd event agency to ensure at time of payment, members got 25% discount. (Despite the severe recession 65 community members took advantage of this offer).
2. ICC members were given free entry.
3. INETA APAC(facebook, Spaces), Culminis blogs, sites announced benefits for the community, and mailers + phone calls were made to all UG leaders.
2. Promote all User Groups of (INETA APAC, Culminis & PASS), create awareness of these organizations, MVP Program and Microsoft UGSS, ensure all attendees are aware of the above. 1. A Community Booklet was created, containing details of all user groups in India, via efforts of ICC + other volunteers. A professional company was engaged(Printo), their help was invaluable. Community booklet was included in the attendee kits, ensuring all are aware of the various user groups across India. In addition, UG leaders were provided Community booklets, so that they could distribute it to their group members.
3. Engage TechEd Attendees, Promote leaders and groups, create buzz and encourage at least 10% of TechEd audience. 1. Two contests were organized.
1.1 Culminis, INETA APAC, PASS, Leader Hunt Contest for TechEd India 2009. Leader Hunt Contest for TechEd India 2009
Enabled attendee interaction with all leaders(Culminis, INETA APAC, PASS) who are present at TechEd. Approximately 300 attendees participated.1.2 INETA APAC True or False Contest. INETA APAC Contest for TechEd India Enabled attendees to be aware of INETA APAC benefits and sign up as volunteers. 
Approximately 300 attendees participated.

1.3 There was also a dart game where Attendees lining up to play the Community dart game at TechEd Indiaa lots of goodies(Stress balls, T-shirts, Caps) were given to attendees. The queue at the dart game counter was just amazing. (The Xbox guys helped by providing part of their booth to enable this.)

4. Networking opportunity for speakers, attendees, UG leaders, volunteers. An exclusive Community Evening was Community Evening at TechEd Indiaorganized, primary sponsor was Microsoft UGSS, Culminis and INETA APAC also partly sponsored the same.  Networking, free beer and munchies. It was an evening attended by close to 100 people (consisting of leaders, members, speakers and Microsoft personnel). 14052009976The ICC members were formally introduced to the attendees. The entrance to this exclusive event was guarded by our enthusiastic leaders/volunteers Nauzad, Surendra Mishra and Pinalkumar Dave followed by turns by other volunteers. 
5. Involve 3rd party speakers, Microsoft Regional Directors, other valuable speakers etc. Pre-TechEd, behind the scenes I was involved in getting 3rd party speakers, such as Sanjay Vyas, Dr. Nitin Paranjpe, Raj Chaudhuri, Meena K and Ranganathan S. In addition, Microsoft RD’s like Praveen Srivatsa, Venkatarangan TNC, also delivered some fantastic sessions.
6. Leader Summit One of the things local Microsoft encouraged was to engage leaders much more, and in order to help with that, they offered free entry to TechEd for all leaders of groups in India.
14052009969The ICC capitalized this wonderful opportunity and informed all leaders, in addition, INETA APAC and Culminis sponsored leader accommodation at TechEd, since quite a few leaders were attending this proved to be hugely beneficial, about 14 leaders attended this special summit, along with leading MVP’s. It was held on day 2 of TechEd for about 2 hours. INTEA APAC, Culminis and PASS shared their plans for FY10 with leaders. Additionally, Culminis, INETA APAC, PASS representatives, respectively met up with their group leaders in separate meetings.
7. Upcoming mini-UG TechEd’s in 8 cities. Microsoft announced their support to Community, UG led, mini-TechEd’s in 8 cities. These will be targeting both IT Pro’s and Developers.

Topics that are being delivered are: 
IT Pro: Win Server 2008 R2; Virtualization; Exchange server
Developer: WIN 7; IE 8 /SL3 & Visual Studio 2010
Microsoft would enable UG leaders to get content from TechEd on the above + leaders are encouraged to have local speakers for whom virtual training could be provided. INETA APAC, Culminis, and UGSS could support funding of these Community TechEd’s.
8. Special Session for UG leaders Concept Visuals – presentation by Sanjay Vyas was an exclusive introduction to leaders on how Concept Visuals helps in easy learning + presenting of any information. The best comment after the session which I heard from a leader was “I was doing Windows programming for 6 years and now I finally understand what’s happening”. It was an eye opener for all.
9. New User Groups support Hyderabad – Soni Somarajan and Srinivas B.N. were two new potential leaders who stepped up to help with Hyderabad UG.
Patna – Monika Jha(encouraged by UG leader Surendra Mishra) has decided to start the Patna User Group, focused on UI/Designing
Agra – Similarly, INETA APAC volunteer Mahesh Mitkari, is working with a potential new leader in Agra.
10. Goodies for UG leaders and their members 15052009983 On the last day, UG leaders were given giveaways to take back to their user group communities, which they could utilize at the upcoming mini-TechEd’s. ICC members and volunteers, put their hands together to coordinate these efforts.
11. UG content in localized languages Microsoft is helping encourage submission of information in localised languages, so far I believe, there are volunteers for Gujarati, Kannada, Hindi and hopefully the upcoming mini-UG TechEd’s will bring many more languages to the fore. These video recordings would be promoted across the country.

May 19, 2009 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

TechEd India 2009

It’s been super exciting here at the Community Zone, last afternoon post lunch it was a madhouse with INETA, Culminis and PASS running contests, which the community flocked to like birds’ to bees. With exciting caps, stress balls, t-shirts, it was a fun afternoon, and TechEd came alive with the community enjoying more than just Technical session. People literally had to be stopped from storming into the community zone 🙂 we had some new people sign up as volunteers.

Some 300 people contest forms were distributed, and lots of fun giveaways. approximately 50 signed up to be volunteers. (lets see how long the enthusiasm lasts 😉

Below crowds at the community zone filling out the contest forms.


Below leaders chilling out at the Community Zone.

May 14, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

Best Practices Webcast: Presenting at large events such as TechEd

FYI, INETA APAC is organizing a series of best practices webcasts for the community (see below)

Presenting at large events such as TechEd

Session abstract: Presenting at large events such as TechEd involves a lot of preparation. Too many speakers leave far too much to chance. Doing a good job does not happen by accident. In this session, Greg will share experience and tips related to the process of getting selected, preparing content and delivering that content. Many of the tips can also be applied to improving the delivery of technical material in classroom or user group situations.

Presenter Bio: Greg Low is an internationally recognized consultant, developer and trainer. He is the country lead for Solid Quality, a SQL Server MVP and one of only three Microsoft Regional Directors for Australia. Greg also hosts the popular SQL Down Under podcast (, is a board member of PASS (the Professional Association for SQL Server) and an author with Microsoft Press and Rational Press. He regularly speaks at large events around the world.


INETA APAC invites you to select a convenient time of your choice for this webcast, fill the survey(takes less than 3 minutes) and we will notify you of the final survey results and the exact webcast timing. 

Please note that Survey closing date is : May 4, 2009

April 28, 2009 at 6:44 am Leave a comment

Green IT

Could you believe it a group focussed on encouraging the green revolution in IT. If I’m not wrong this is the first group of it’s kind that I’ve seen around the world.


The Green IT Special Interest Group (SIG) is an independent, not for profit organisation that is empowered through a volunteer organisation of professionals and through the broad support of industry associations.

The Green IT Special Interest Group works with ICT Professionals and clients of ICT services to address today’s sustainability challenges and identify solutions for a better tomorrow.

The ACS Green IT Special Interest Group (SIG), chaired by Phillip Nyssen, ACS Qld Board Member, started in Brisbane this year. Its role is to drive IT industry awareness, knowledge and adoption in response to climate change and carbon accounting.


You can get involved with them by signing up here

I think this is an extremely interesting group doing good in their own Green way 😉 Love it.

Is your group doing more than IT stuff? If you are I’d love to hear about it.

April 27, 2009 at 6:21 am Leave a comment

What does a User Group Leader do?

What are the activities that an IT user group leader does?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’ve created a Concept Visual representing the various activities/tasks that a UG leader does. As they say a visual expresses much more clearly and faster than written text. So here goes…

UG Leader tasks 2.0

I would love to get feedback. Large size image is available here

April 24, 2009 at 9:55 am 3 comments

Microsoft User Group Support Services

If you’re not aware of Microsoft UGSS(User Group Support Services), and you run a user group, you’re missing out on a whole lot of stuff.

Check out User Group Support Services at

Here is some more information on what UGSS provides…

User Group Support Services exists for one reason and one reason alone – YOU! Our mission is to support Developer and IT Professional User Groups worldwide in their success! User Group Support Services is not intended to be your final destination or your only destination. It is a site with a robust set of tools and information that exists to help you connect with user group communities worldwide, It has been developed in close partnership with Culminis, INETA and PASS to help you manage your group and gain access to funding, speakers, sponsors and event content.
How Do I Register as a User Group Leader on UGSS?
Getting started is quick and simple! If you are a User Group Leader, tell us a little about your group — group contact information, meetings, etc. After a quick verification process, your group will become a member of the UGSS User Group Experience. Your User Group will then be displayed on for others in your area to find.
How Do My Members Register on UGSS?
After you register yourself and your user group on UGSS, you will also receive a unique password to distribute to your members so they can associate themselves with your group and gain access to valuable content. Your user group members will receive the user group password in an email which will allow them to register on the site and associate themselves to your user group.
Benefits Of Joining UGSS

  • Get Help Managing Your Members! UGSS has built-in member management and communication tools to help you track your membership, record attendance and send out notifications regarding upcoming events or important news! Need a quick answer to a single question (for example: do you want pizza or Chinese at the next meeting)? Access our user group poll for quick, on the fly communiqués with your membership!

  • Get Event Management & Reporting!

    UGSS offers a built in event management and reporting system to help UGs manage their attendees, plus have better reporting of their event activities.

  • Get Extra $ for Your Events!

    Microsoft, in partnership with Culminis, INETA and PASS now offers funding for your next community-led event! Whether it’s a monthly user group meeting, a product launch event, or a code camp – whatever the format invite UGSS! Event funding requests are located on the Add Event page on the User Group Tab. Event funding is limited and subject to Event Funding Terms and Conditions.

  • Get a Speaker or Sponsor for Your Event!

    In partnership with Culminis, INETA and PASS we’ve completely redesigned our speaker and sponsor registries to better support the user group communities. These registries help support local and regional speakers. This allows UG Leaders to connect with speakers in their own areas so they can always find great presenters to come present and/or attend their monthly meetings. These registries will soon be synchronized with registries on other community sites (such as Culminis, INETA and PASS) to ensure user group leaders worldwide have a rich selection of speakers and sponsors to choose from for their next event!

  • Get

    People at Your Events! Add your events to our new robust global events calendar and gain publicity for your events worldwide. To help drive new members to User Groups, and extend the reach of User Groups everywhere, the UGSS Global Events Calendar is intended to be one of the primary repositories of UG events across the US. This calendar is synced with the Community Megaphone event calendar and will soon expose events listed on additional community calendars such as Culminis, INETA, PASS and perhaps even yours! Additionally, we will ensure that we promote these events in the MSDN Flash, on our new US Portal and also even in the external event site

  • Get Great Stuff to Show!

    You are a very busy, dedicated community leader. You need content for your meetings and time is a premium commodity. Invite UGSS to your next meeting and we’ll bring the content! Our content library is growing… check in monthly to see what’s new! Microsoft Product Teams have partnered with User Group Support Services to provide content for your event (demos, discussion presentations and other content). We have created a process that enables you to not only directly access this content but engage as well in a feedback process with Microsoft Product Teams on how the content worked for you, and how we can improve it for you. We are counting on your engagement with us, on the feedback you provide to help us improve our content offerings to you and your membership. Without your engagement with us, it will be impossible for us to be successful – together!

April 22, 2009 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Interview with Christine Betts

Christine Betts - General Manager - Technical Audience Global Marketing, MicrosoftI recently interviewed Christine Betts, General Manager, Technical Audience Global Marketing-Microsoft. She is a wonderful person, exactly what is needed from a person who manages the Global Technical Marketing team at Microsoft, a large part of her work is working with community. I had two wonderful opportunities to meet her. First at the Community Summit held immediately after the MVP Summit and the 2nd about a week ago, during the first week of TechEd the Developer week. I had loads of questions for her, but before that, let me give you a brief profile about her, directly from her.

Christine works in the Technical Audience Global Marketing team at Microsoft where she describes her job as “helping people find better ways to do big things”.  Her focus today is to help Technical Professionals find better ways to leverage technology to greater benefit. This means working on bringing  realism and relevance to Microsoft’s interactions and engagements with Technical Professionals so they can be successful in their jobs and in their careers.  Why?  Because  Technical Professionals bring technology to life every day in amazing ways so that others can be successful too.  They help Microsoft to realize its vision of empowering people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.  “Moving Forward Together “with Technology {Technical People]  (technology to the power of Technical People) is what Christine’s  team is focused on.
Christine is a 25 year veteran at Microsoft with a broad range of cross-company experiences from Finance to Learning, from IT to Support and Customer Service, including international and global roles, always at a senior management level and with a “change” focus for over half of that career.
Christine is a citizen of the UK but has been resident in WA state since November 2004, having relocated to do this job.

My questions to Christine and her responses below:

  1. Looking at the evolution of communities, what would you identify as defining moments/activities which have been a driving force?
    Obviously, the formation of groups like Culminis, INETA, and PASS! I think that it’s actually less about defining moments than it is about the steady growth of User Groups, especially in the IT Professional space, and their enthusiasm to help one another and to get the best out of technology for their organizations. Helping others is a natural human tendency but I’m really impressed with how the communities in the technology industry take helping others so much to heart and run community projects together over and above their business interests.
  2. From a Microsoft standpoint, how difficult is it to convince people internally about utilizing the strengths and supporting the community?
    It’s actually very easy!  There are very few people within Microsoft who don’t think that the community is a wonderful resource, both for its members and for Microsoft. The issue is that there are many different opinions as to how to best work with these communities. Everyone is keen to engage.  Sometimes we come up with so many different ways to do this that it must look disorganized from the community viewpoint. We are trying though, and one of my groups most important roles is to help bring consistency and make the best possible use of the limited resources we have so that we are easier to understand and to work with.
  3. Could you describe key initiatives by Microsoft which you feel will help grow the community?
    On a global level, our relationships with the key organizations such as Culminis, INETA, and PASS are critical to ensuring that we have as good a relationship as possible with the thousands of user groups and millions of members. We are also in the process of launching User Group Support Services (UGSS) – an online platform which will greatly help to provide user groups with the tools that they need.
  4. What does the IT community mean to you personally, what drives you about it? 
    It’s all about people.  The more people you meet within any community scenario, the more amazing individual stories you encounter.  Within the IT industry those stories are rich and varied on why people get involved with technology and then they are truly amazing on what people achieve with technology.  Within my team, we remind each other that the winning formula is Technology {technical people} – Technology to the power of technical people.  We produced a book of portraits of some of these people for our 2008 server products launch earlier this year under the theme of Heroes Happen Here.  Those stories are fascinating and humbling –and they are representative of many many more that happen every day all over the world.  I am inspired by being in a position to help those people to achieve their goals and dreams.
  5.  How and where do you see the future growth of the IT Community, do you foresee any significant inflections points? At the moment, less than one in ten IT professionals are part of a user group. The percentage is growing, but of course I’d like to see it grow much faster. I’d also like to see Microsoft become an equal partner in the community, rather than being viewed simply as a vendor. As for inflection points, I really think it’s more about steady growth and gradual change than anything.
  6. In your 25 years at Microsoft, what are your top 3 community related learning’s? 
    I have learned that  “community” is one of those words that everyone uses and not everyone understands!  Community is both fragile and incredibly robust at the same time.  Communities are formal and informal.  Community cannot be managed or manipulated but it does not survive and thrive without continuous stimulus.  It’s an incredibly powerful “thing”!  It’s all about the people and the things they share an interest and a passion for.  I used to be somewhat nervous about not being a deep subject matter expert in what our communities were engaged in but I soon discovered that passion and the motivation to help others transcends all language and skills barriers and becomes infectious.  I’ve heard people say things like offline communities will die in favor of online – and then online just made offline connection so much richer and more productive.  Community is one of the most organic phenomena that I have encountered!
  7. What is your vision of the perfect community and its relationship with Microsoft?
    Independent, open and engaged. It’s actually very important that the community feels both independent from Microsoft but also connected and engaged.  The last thing we want is people telling us what we want to hear or feeling constrained about what they can say – we need you to tell us the truth, both the good and the bad.  At the same time, we want technical professionals wherever they are in the world to think of Microsoft as another community of individuals who care about the same things – moving forward with the power of technology.  As a commercial entity though, Microsoft brings something different to the party.  Our success is inter-twined.
  8. At one time in the history of Microsoft not so long ago, there was rumored a clarion call given by Bill Gates about turning around every product and making sure it was Internet enabled, another time it was Security, Do you think it’s time for the call of Community, Community, Community to be shouted out loud?
    Yes – and no.  I actually think that this has quietly been happening within Microsoft for some time now.  There are some teams who are deeply connected to their related communities but people come and go and relationships ebb and flow.  The clarion call approach tends to focus the entire company for a period of time – until the next clarion call.  Community needs to be part of our soul rather than something we concentrate on until we think we have “fixed” the problem.  My team is on point to remind everyone about that and to help instill it with some best practices of community connection.  I think the long-term play is the way to go.
  9. For some it’s The law of Attraction (Abraham-Hicks), Buddhism ZEN philosophy, Church of Scientology, Eckhart Tolle, Anthony Robbins, Who is your inspiration (you could say Bill G, or Steve Ballmer as well 😉 
    Actually, it is Frank Gaudette, the first CFO of Microsoft.  He taught me to “reserve the right to wake up smarter every day”.  This means always being open to new learning, never being arrogant about knowing it all, being able to change a decision when you find it to be wrong, and being completely open and transparent.  Frank was a wonderful mentor in life.  He remains so for me even though he died in April 1993 as his teaching lives on.
  10. What’s the one device, which you feel has personally affected you the most? And your family? 
    Clearly the PC.  When I joined this small software company back in July 1983 in UK it was just a job with some really nice people!  I had little idea just how significant that career decision was.  I was the accountant then and I had the pleasure of trading up my PCs for faster and faster versions over the years, finding new and better ways to manage the accounts of a very fast growing business.  And I have gone on to work in just about every area of the business since then except for product development and sales!  For my family, it’s all about the power of communication technology.  It’s not a big family but we are scattered across the globe now.  We keep in touch through technology – sharing emails, photos, videos etc. as well as talking on the phone regularly.
  11. Do you believe in causes? Which cause inspires you the most (It could be Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CRY, Unicef, etc. Or your local charity)
    I am touched by causes large and small and by the efforts that people put in to help each other.  It’s one of the things I admire so much about Bill and Melinda Gates that they put so much of their energy and wealth back into supporting the causes of healthcare around the world.  Similarly I am impressed with how the user groups rally around causes in their local communities, offering their help and support as well as their technical expertise where appropriate.  This is the true spirit of community. I love it when we do that at work too.  We take the whole team and work on a local community project.  It is very rewarding.
  12. What would be your clarion call to the community? What would you love it to be or do?
    Engage with us!  And, to some extent, understand us.  Microsoft is a company of more than 99,000 individuals, empowered to drive forward with their piece of the puzzle of advancing technology.  That may not always look as connected as it should do but when it works it is hugely powerful!  Tell us when we get it right and tell us when we look like we are getting it wrong.  You’ll find us to be hugely adaptable to good feedback.

My questions to Christine overflowed beyond the ones I had emailed her. I had the pleasure of meeting her once more during TechEd Developer week, we chatted more, and I’m sure we would have many more engaging conversations, more on that later. I’m happy to see people like Christine within Microsoft who are keen and understand the importance of the IT community. Cheers to that!

June 16, 2008 at 6:19 pm Leave a comment

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