zLearning – Social (Face-to-Face) Networking

In The UK, it’s that time of the year again where a certain subset of us more mature folks dust down some of our costumes and prepare for the upcoming event.  Allegedly, I’m not sure how true this is, some of us look better in costume!  No, it’s not Halloween, but the UK GSE Annual Conference!  This year, 2014, marks 20 years and the 21st offering of this annual event.  A lot has changed in those 20 years…

In the early 1990’s, I can remember attending GSE user group meetings with many tens if not one hundred plus attendees, the majority being from customer installations.  Not so long ago, I also recall such meetings where there were less than 10 attendees, most of those from vendors.  So, congratulations to all of those hard working UK GSE representatives that give their time, effort, passion and skill to promoting and supporting this event, where the annual UK GSE conference now attracts several hundred attendees.  Maybe the number of vendor attendees now outnumbers those from customer installations, but the realm of possibility exists.

Although it might not be obvious, this arguably unique annual UK zSeries Mainframe user conference is the best if not only multi-faceted education forum for UK based Mainframe users.  With many technical streams, real-life experiences from customer presentations and latest product updates from vendors, perhaps UK GSE is the best “zLearning” opportunity of the year?  If so, I really hope UK zSeries Mainframe user personnel continue to support this great event and attendee numbers keep growing.  Personally, I would like to see user presentations dominate the conference and this can only happen if user personnel support the event and convince their Management Team that they should attend and present.

Moreover, arguably the greatest quality and attribute of the annual UK GSE conference is the ability for face-to-face networking, interacting with industry peers that may have faced and resolved some of the challenges on your to-do list.  For sure, a lot can be achieved with Social Media resources, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, et al; but we should never lose sight of that face-to-face interaction.

A recent noteworthy addition to the UK GSE conference is the welcome attendance from University Students, who are the future and we hope they embrace the zSeries Mainframe platform and forge a career accordingly.  Who knows, whether a vendor or a customer, perhaps you might find a welcome addition to your workforce from these talented students?

What will the next 20 years bring?  I hope that attendee numbers are always measured in the hundreds and if there are ~100 Mainframe customers in The UK and 2 personnel from the majority of those customers attended, there must be a great possibility of ~30-40 user presentations per conference.  I also wonder how many students that attend the UK GSE conference, actually go onto find a job and start their career in the zSeries Mainframe world.  I think that might be one of the most noteworthy and legacy achievements of this great UK GSE event and perhaps one worth documenting.  Now there’s a good use of Social Media, a resource where folks can post something like “The UK GSE conference helped me get my first IT (Mainframe) job”.  Enjoy the forthcoming 2014 conference.