Microsoft Ignite – In person Seattle review

This is my review of Ignite, in person, in Seattle.

This was my first ever time in Seattle, really enjoyed the city and look forward to returning (I love being in the United States). I was delighted to be able to attend this years event.

This years Ignite in person has been, well different, to be fair I think I had been greatly spoiled by the previous Ignite I attended back in 2019 in Orlando.

Microsoft has tried out some new ideas and below is my feedback and findings from Days 1 and 2 (supposed to be 3 day event, but it wasn’t in perso in Seattle at least).

No Ignite bag was a little disappointing (it was a thing each year until now), a swag free conference, I mean I do get it, but a lot of people weren’t pleased – I think we are going to have to get used to swag free conferences. If you were a sponsor the list of what you had to do to be able to giveaway anything was pretty high.

The vendors were down on a separate floor and to be honest, this was odd in my opinion, not sure that would have went down too well, you had to go into rooms to speak to some of them and that isnt what people liked or felt comfortable doing, when I asked people.

The food was fine, not sure the information on what was available where, was up to scratch but there you have it.

The venue itself, at least the Hub was cool, no MVP / RD wall was disappointing, or dragon popcorn but it was a nice looking area. However, for me, the area didn’t work when it came to sessions, many speakers had no microphones on day 1 and you couldn’t hear anything people were saying unless right up front (some sessions were packed), hopefully they learn that having speaker areas with so many people, you need to make sure people can hear what’s been said, if its in person, its not recorded and therefor you miss out which annoyed some people I spoke too.

The keynote was weird with Satya not being there in person, again, odd to have Ignite, in person, that doesnt have a live keynote from Satya.

In Summary, Day 1 was rescued by the people I met, the MVP after party (not all mvps got the invite) and playing table tennis and chatting with people from all over.

Day 2 was noticeably quieter, I mean like a third of the people decided to go enjoy the sun or something else, I was thinking to myself where is everyone, it very much had the vibe that the big speakers had left town and the Hub area was surprisingly quiet. Ask the Expert areas were quiet especially on day 2, it had that feeling of the last day at a conference early on which was not great.

Some sessions were ok, content was mostly high level marketing content and the sessions were beginner to intermediate levels. Content around the Hub was hard to hear and that for me didn’t work.

So lets cover the good the bad and the ugly from my point of view for this year’s Ignite.

We were back in person at Ignite, meeting friends and new people from around the world is always the best part of a conference for me – going to dinner at night and hearing what people are working on and building and the questions they ask is the best thing going. Seattle is a very nice place to visit.

No Satya, no swag, 2 days conference not 3 as advertised (many flew home on Saturday due to this), no MVP wall, no sticker swap, no store to buy merchandise or surface laptops etc, and no book store either. The energy just wasnt there for me, some people tried to get the crowd to hoot and holler but it just wasnt happening.

After reflection skipping this part, ask me in person.

Ways I would try to improve Ignite

  • Less marketing content, more deep dives.
  • Have the person delivering the Keynotes always be actually there in person, especially Satya.
  • Tell people its a swag free conference up front, to avoid disappointment.
  • Bring back the MVP / RD Wall, book store, merchandise stands etc.
  • Inform people better of any after event parties.
  • Have working wifi at the start of the conference.
  • Session speakers speak slowly, this isn’t a race, if you need more time have longer session. Not everyone is a native English speaker and rambling through content at 100 mph is an awful experience for a lot of people.
  • Tell people that where your sitting is not where the speaker is, some rooms were both called Tahoma 3 for example and one had the speaker and the other was earphones only – it wasnt clear.
  • Full sessions and being told to go watch it online, after travelling a long way to be in person this wasn’t a great experience. (have bigger rooms)
  • Two days isn’t long enough, lots of content at the same time yesterday was not fun, yes its recorded but I came to see people talk and the content needs to be spread out more.
  • Have the chance to get your photo taken professionally so that you can get a nice photo of you at the event.
  • Have more fun things on when it’s the drinks / nibbles at the end of each day.

In summary, Microsoft tried a new way of doing things from what I gathered and it fell short.

Would I go next year? – it depends.