MAX 2015: All signs point to a can’t-miss U.S. customer conference

Marc Thaler

The MAXfocus Community team set a big, bold goal for September’s U.S. Customer Conference: Convince MSPs they need multiple people at MAX 2015. It may be the only way to consume the unprecedented amount of content planned for the three-day conference, Marc Thaler writes

MAX-2015How did the MAXfocus Community team spend its time immediately after last year’s U.S. Customer Conference ended? Nadia Karatsoreos knows. She’s an insider.The team filled its “Opportunity board” – an initial step in building MAX 2015. Karatsoreos, the community manager, describes the strategy session as a time to identify snags in execution, turn them into challenges, and ultimately treat those challenges as opportunities to shine.

“Getting in a room together, to talk about the things that went wrong, wouldn’t feel very motivating,” Karatsoreos says. “It’s refreshing to talk about what we can do to make things better the next time.”

The next time isn’t far off. The 2015 U.S. Customer Conference – the flagship event that MAXfocus holds for its partners in the managed services industry – is September 9/10/11. The fifth annual conference takes place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, just outside Washington, D.C.

Attendance is expected to surpass 600 – roughly 200 more than last year and six times the size of the company’s inaugural conference.

Bigger may not always be better. But the Community team considers MAX 2015 an exception.

Director of Partner Community Dave Sobel says an unprecedented amount of business and technical content is slated. Last year’s Orlando show featured one technical track with seven sessions; two full tracks will be offered this fall. There’s also competition to speak at the business sessions. That’s great news, Sobel says, as it forces his team to be extremely selective.

Even the size of the Community team – anticipated to be 10-strong by September – underscores the message Sobel wants to send.

“We’re investing in our community, outreach and education efforts – clearly,” he says.

Offering more content merely scratches the surface. MAX 2015 has experienced such rapid growth that, as an international series, it can no longer fit into a five-week window. This year marks the first time the conferences are spread throughout the calendar year.

Specifically for the U.S., Sobel says the Community team wants to build “curriculum” that links speakers and the topics they tackle. The idea is to offer sessions that cover a subject from multiple angles rather than create a collection of standalone seminars.

“That takes effort. That takes real thought – to give you an end-to-end curriculum,” Sobel says.

The details matter, too.

Sobel’s staff is exploring how adjustments to table layout can enhance the networking aspect of the U.S. conference. Engaging with peers, industry leaders, and the MAXfocus executive and product teams has long been the hallmark of the series.

“If it’s hard for us to do, then I want to do it,” Sobel says, “because it’s an opportunity for us to show how much we care about this.”

There’s one more way the team is demonstrating its commitment.

Confident in the product his team is producing, Sobel says U.S. conference registrants who can’t attend or feel the event wasn’t useful will receive a refund. He is confident in the product his team is producing. (A reduced registration fee of $525 per person, which includes a two-night stay at the Gaylord National, is available until May 31.)

The Community team, and MAXfocus at large, set a high standard in September 2014. The way Sobel sees it, there’s only one direction to continue moving.

“We have to meet last year’s bar, and then we have to do some things better,” he says. “I always say there’s room for improvement.”

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