Posted By Doug Peterson
I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Questionmark European Users Conference in Barcelona, Spain, November 10 – 12. If you’ve never had the chance to go to Barcelona, I highly recommend it! This is a *beautiful* city full of charming people, wonderful architecture, and GREAT food.
Traveling and seeing new sights and engaging in new adventures is always fun, but the true “stars of the show” at a users conference are, of course, the users.
It was wonderful to catch up with customers I first met two years ago in Brussels. I also had the opportunity to meet in person several people I had met over the last couple of years only through emails and conference calls, and it was great to put a face with a name. And of course, it was wonderful to make brand new friends whom I hope to see again next year!
One of the things I enjoy the most about Questionmark Users Conferences is how customers learn from each other. This happens in a more structured way during the many sessions presented by members of our user community, but I enjoy it even more when it happens more informally.
During the opening reception Sunday night I had the opportunity to talk with several customers, to hear why they were attending – what they wanted to get out of the conference – and then introduce them to another customer or a Questionmark employee who could help them meet their goals for the conference. Breakfast and lunch conversations were always interesting, and even during Monday night’s fantastic dinner at El Torre Dels Lleones, the conversations between different users facing various challenges continued (except, of course, when we were all watching the flamenco dancers perform!). These conversations are simply invaluable, not only because customers help each other find answers to their challenges, but because I as an employee gain insights and a depth of understanding as to what our customers are doing and the problems they are facing in ways that an email or a phone call can’t communicate.
Tuesday morning we tried something new during the General Session. Howard Eisenberg gave an informative presentation on item writing best practices, and at certain points he would pause so that each table could discuss the current topic amongst ourselves. Then he would take comments from some of the tables before moving forward with the next topic. The conversations at the table where I was sitting were GREAT! The sharing of different perspectives and experiences resulted in a lot , “Oh, I never thought of that!” expressions all around the room. THAT’S why I love going to our users conferences: there’s just nothing like the information exchange and growth that takes place when a bunch of Questionmark users gather together in one place.
If you weren’t able to make it to Barcelona, I hope you can come to San Antonio, Texas, March 4 – 7. We’ll be right on the city’s River Walk. I’ve been there several times visiting family in the area and, I can tell you it’s beautiful and FUN! Please join us. I’m confident that by the end of the conference you will agree that it was time well spent.