I introduced the presenter for one of the GalaxZ17 breakout sessions. The speaker just concluded an awesome presentation where he stressed the intricate intrapersonal dynamics of launching and managing a monitoring solution in a complex enterprise IT environment. One of the audience members came to him afterward to offer positive feedback. It was then that I heard it. I heard the GalaxZ17 “raison d’être” (reason to be), if you will. The session attendee said, “I attend a lot of industry conferences. You can always find and get that other [technical] stuff, but this conference is different.”
Hmm, indeed. The Zenoss user conference, GalaxZ17, and like Austin, itself, dares to be just that. Here, it has always been about the inclusive “and” not the “or.” At Zenoss, we often say that we are, “Individually unique. Better together.” That, in a tagline, defined GalaxZ17.
Taking center stage with the spotlight turned to Austin, Texas, we assembled leading technology innovators, industry thought leaders, and IT rock stars from across the world to join us in the Live Music Capital of the World to discuss various aspects of the digital transformation. Together, for three days, we transformed the city of our headquarters into the Live Monitoring Capital of the World. It was an amazing sight to see and a uniquely different experience to hear.
It was my third consecutive GalaxZ user conference. My plan this year was simple: focus more attentively on the “voice of the customer,” To do that, I wanted to make sure I did more than participate and listen — I wanted to participate by listening. Now, I did not avoid talking. Those of you who know me know that is close to impossible (Smiley Face Emoji). Over those three days, hearing what our guests said to us, to our prospects, our partners, and to each other, was amazing and invaluable. My listening range extended to include the keynotes, breakout sessions, partner expo discussions, general networking, and even some time at the DJ booth. (I am a frustrated DJ from the 90s.) Throughout these collective sessions, I heard how they artfully laid out their business challenges, how they leverage Zenoss to address them, the cutting-edge ways in which they were using our product, the specific issues they needed to resolve to improve their experience, and their future landscapes as they scale.
While different, this event was, at its core, a user conference. I did hear all of the things I expected and hoped to hear and learn — but, to the earlier point, this conference still sounded different than others. GalaxZ actually sounds like a great family reunion. There was laughter, reminiscing, networking, idea sharing, music, vision setting, storytelling, dancing and even a few tears. (Just to clarify: not tears over the dancing.) Whether chatter over the stickers and Zennys at the registration desk, the screaming over the evening’s live band singing a sequence of cover tunes from the 80s, and the hum of a community in sync, the attendees of GalaxZ17 seemed really excited to be there. They were appreciative of the time put into delivering meaningful content, valuable business insight, and to make absolutely sure they had a first-class experience.
I heard Greg Stock, chairman and CEO of Zenoss, say it best. “It was not enough to be a great vendor. As a company, we have to keep our eye on the bigger picture — you, the customer.” The anecdote that brought it all together: our journey, our mission and our vision will only be fulfilled with the addition of one letter: Y. It changes “our” to “your,” and so, it’s about your journey, your mission and your vision. It is with that difference that we will continue to grow this company and grow this event. I can’t wait to see the thousands of you at an upcoming trade show, your office or on the phone — and yes, in attendance at GalaxZ18.
As the conference closed and the last of the boxes packed for a return to the office, I reflected in silence. My intent was to share with you what I heard and felt and to somehow translate what I could not say, but could hear. I am not quite certain whether I accomplished what I intended, so I will offer this: For those of you who made the trip to Austin — thank you. If you remember nothing else about your experience here, know that we (Zenoss) heard you! For those who could not make it this year, we look forward to seeing (and hearing) you at GalaxZ18!
GalaxZ17 sponsors included: SOPRIS Technologies, LayerX Technologies, ServiceNow, Cascadeo, Big Panda, Higher Logic, SaltStack, VictorOps, Verinon, SoftServe, NTT DATA, Everbridge and Broadsuite Media Group.