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    Devcon Presentation Selections


      Well, for those of you who submitted Devcon session proposals, you should have a response in your email today.  I did a lot of encouraging of my FMPUG chapter (Dallas) to submit proposals, but it looks like so far we are 0 for 16 and waiting to hear on others.  None of us are platinum members and the only people I know accepted so far are from Platinum companies.  I'm sure that is because they have a closer relation with FM.  But one thing it did make me note is that this year's Devcon cut a day of sessions out and FM may be having to be more selective.  I'll be at Devcon, and while I'll wait to see how it works out, I'm leaning towards providing conference feedback suggesting they add the day of sessions back in even if it costs more.  I guess I just have to see how it all goes, but the sessions are where I really learn FM technologies.  Regardless, I look forward to a good Devcon 2017 and we'll see how the changes work out. 

        • 1. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

          I'm one of those who took your advice and submitted a proposal (that wasn't accepted). Maybe if you are right about Platinum membership the rest of us should be warned in advance to not bother.


          Regarding the "FBA Day" however I'm not ready to say I won't learn anything useful. But if it turn out to be like this week's FBA Connect then we should be told in advance so we can plan our travel. Clearly, FBA members earn their Platinum status because of sales performance. I'm not a salesman and I don't focus on sales ....


          What I'm saying is that I am very willing to applaud sales achievements at dinner events but I have zero interest in attending a sales meeting during business hours. I go to Devcon to learn.

          • 2. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

            One thing to realize is that a certain segment of the sessions will be on the new version, but at this point, only FBA Platinum members would have seen a pre-release of the upcoming FM 16.  Only they could make presentations for those topics and FM will, as they should, give priority to new topics.  Plus the new features are the main reasons I come to Devcon. 


            I'm not a salesman either and my focus is on development tools, so I don't get as excited about a sales meeting such as the most recent FBA connect.  But we are all businesses and FM exists only because of sales, so we can't really ignore it even if it isn't our cup of tea.  I'm just happy that the majority of Devcon is not about sales, but I understand they have to do something to drum up and encourage more sales.  Just note that if we were to add another day back in, I would want to add a day of technical sessions and new features and not another day on sales. 


            Regarding sales, I know FM has the Business Account Managers that support the Platinum developers on large sales, etc.  But as a regular FBAer, we don't seem to have so much sales support and as a company too small to have a salesman, sales is an area of weakness for many small FBA companies.  Sales tools and improvements like quarterly FBA connect meetings help and we appreciate those.  So maybe the the extra FBA day is going to be about helping out with sales and might help out small companies like mine.  If given a choice, I would have chosen an extra day of technical sessions, but then again, the FBA day may provide some more sales assistance which companies like mine need.  I'll have to keep an open mind and see what this new FBA day is like before forming an opinion. 


            If nothing else, it will be different this year.  Looking forward to the lazy river too!

            • 3. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

              I guess what I'm saying is the title of the session should be "FBA Sales Meeting" if in fact that's what it is. I appreciate and respect those who make their career selling. But Devcon is not a free conference. We pay for the privilege of having access to knowledge, not to be persuaded to boost the company's earnings. That's not my definition of partnership.


              In between Citizen Developers and big corporations is a huge swath of development opportunity with not enough licensing units to commit time and resources to the sales. You and I both cultivate that development market and allow the customer to "shop" without our involvement. Does that make us less of a "partner ?" Perhaps so.


              I admit I have not seen the schedule yet for the FBA day but I do hope there is something in it for all of us.

              • 4. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                One thing to note, that while there is one less day, there is not a directly proportional drop in the number of sessions. ( i.e. 2/3 # of days ≠ 2/3 # of sessions ).  The sessions are a bit shorter.


                Also, as far as speaker selection, a big part of it, is FMI not having to worry about the content of the presentation. ( not pointing fingers here, speaking in general terms ) If the person has a reputation of being confrontational or highly negative about FM or FMI, the selection committee has to take that into consideration. FBA Platinum members have typically already been vetted. So they are an easier selection. And if FMI knows the developer well, they know what to expect.


                Quality of presentation is a factor as well. Some developers are great at presenting, some are not.

                • 5. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections



                  You raise a few interesting points, and I'd like to respond to each of them if you don't mind.  Not to be argumentative, but just an honest disagreement.


                  Regarding the number of sessions/days, you're right that shorter sessions this year allow more sessions per day.  But until the end of Devcon, I won't be able to judge whether or not I benefit from more sessions per day with each one being 20% shorter than in previous years.  Sometimes, it's been my experience that I wished a session was longer than 75 minutes, either for more content or Q&A.  Other times, I have felt that 30 minutes would have been sufficient.  Maybe your experience has been the same as mine?  The time in between sessions is always tight, whether it's for a refreshment, a bathroom break, navigating the corridors and escalators or just trying to be early enough to get a good seat.


                  In my case, my presentation was not accepted.  I hope it's not because of my reputation for submitting feature requests or reporting bugs.  While I admit that my style could be called opinionated, frank, or even verbose, I don't think I have been negative or confrontational.   But I am aware that certain FMI employees don't like criticism of any kind and I certainly hope that would not be a factor in the decision-making.  Moreover, it is just not in my DNA to get up on a platform provided by FileMaker to use that platform to be negative.   At Devcon last year, I was pleased to hear the announcement of the FBA "council" which I expect could be the instrument of change I was advocating 4 months earlier in my Pause-on-Error session in Cleveland.  Does that make me negative or confrontational?  I hope not.


                  In regard to vetting, my proposal included a list of 92 speaking engagements in my career from 1985 to 2017, with audiences ranging from a few dozen to a few thousand people and the highest possible evaluations, any of which could be validated with a reference-check to the host organization.  I didn't include the 500+ sales presentations I conducted from 1976-1983 with audio-visual speaker support slides.   I've also been a public official in New Jersey and Texas, including 10 years as Chair of a local Zoning Board of Adjustment where a different but equally important kind of decorum and professionalism is required.


                  Maybe what I proposed is not worthy of a Devcon audience, I can accept that.   It would neither hurt my feelings nor insult my professionalism because the technique I proposed to demonstrate works fine and I can continue satisfying my clients with solutions that incorporate it.  Sharing it with the community was the purpose of the proposal.


                  The bottom line for me is that I consider myself a more capable, effective and articulate presenter than some presenters at past Devcons, whose quality of the slides and/or speaking style were below my own standard of excellence.  However, if the criterion for speaker selection, as Taylor Sharpe suggests, is that the person must represent a Platinum FBA member, FileMaker will never experience what I have to offer because there is no point in  preparing a proposal that has no chance of acceptance because of the fact that my company is not sales-focused.



                  • 6. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                    I, actually, don't see any disagreement in your post. That is pretty well the same way I feel. While I always 'try' to be constructive, there are also areas I would love to see improvement. And I continue to push for changes.


                    Again, just so it's clear, nothing in my post is to say you are not qualified as a presenter. While we have had our disagreements ( including a couple in your Pause-On-Error session in Cleveland ), those disagreements also do not necessarily mean I disagree with your point. Sometimes, it's just a matter of approach. And of course, that doesn't mean I am always 100% correct, either.   Overall, on occasion, a passionate, informational rant is important. And will sometimes call to attention what was an understated need in the product. I am just of the opinion that just a rant can be successful without mudslinging an/or anger. ( again, not speaking to you personally )


                    I know that Platinum FBA membership is not a requirement, but I'm sure those companies get the first look.


                    As for the "council", yeah, totally great addition to the FMI's toolset. In fact, we have already seen a tremendous shift in several areas of the platform because of that interaction. It should continue to help shape the platform as a whole for a long time.

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                    • 7. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                      Thanks.  See you in Phoenix.

                      • 8. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                        dburnham wrote:


                        However, if the criterion for speaker selection, as Taylor Sharpe suggests, is that the person must represent a Platinum FBA member, FileMaker will never experience what I have to offer because there is no point in preparing a proposal that has no chance of acceptance because of the fact that my company is not sales-focused.




                        I can pretty much guarantee that FBA Platinum is not a requirement.  While I currently do work at one of them; when I was first selected to speak I most definitely was not; and I was not for the next 5 or 6 times that I spoke.

                        • 9. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                          I know there are some non-Platinum presenters, but Platinum companies clearly are favored in the selection process.  I personally will say though that one of the presenters from our users group is a professor with a PhD, has impressive presentations skills (e.g., he's really interesting to listen to and knows how to old the attention of his audience), is the author of many FileMaker reviews in a major tech magazine.... and they didn't choose him and his topics.  The criteria of a polished orator plus author didn't get him a presentation session, so there are a lot of other criteria going on.  One obviously is the closer relationship that some companies have with FM.  And it may be that the topics he presented were already being covered by people that FM already knows well.  However, I just don't see how a properly vetted review of presenters on their own on their presentation skills and ability to teach... he was eliminated.  The fact that someone of that caliber doesn't get chosen makes me realize business relationships are possibly more important than skills in this selection.  It is what it is and my users group is incredibly rewarded by having such a high caliber person make presentations for our users group.  I think my topics were interesting too, but I don't have near the oratory skills he has.  Those who want a chance at being a presenter should spend more time building strong business relationships with FM over working on presentation skills and topic selections.  I know FM has a lot of pressure to make safe selections since they don't want to be embarrassed with a bad presenter (which happens some every year, but fortunately not often).  I hope Rosemary doesn't take this wrong since I know she is handling the speaker presentations and I know she is working hard to make a great Devcon... but gosh, how can such an obvious choice slip through the cracks of this process.  While I say that few presenters are near the teaching abilities of the person I am referencing, I do have to say that I am fairly happy with most of the Devcon sessions I go to and I learn and enjoy them, so the selection process does tend to yield mostly good presenters.  And a thank you to Rosemary and the team for working hard on this process.

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                          • 10. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                            Taylor, I agree with your remarks.   And I can add that there have been times --- at every Devcon I've attended - when I find myself wondering how the presentation could possibly have been chosen when the visuals are inferior, or the dialect or accent is very difficult to understand, or the subject matter is poorly presented.  It couldn't possibly be the "catchy" title, could it?   It's painful to endure to a 45 minute spoken presentation parsed with "um" or "ya know" in every phrase or sentence.  


                            Conscious of the fact that the presenter has taken the time to prepare, I am always as generous as possible while still honest and constructive with my evaluations.   


                            Now that we are on an annual version release cycle, it's safe to assume that presentations which focus on a new feature are more likely to be selected.  Obviously, non-Platinum members don't have access to FileMaker 16 at the time of the proposal deadline, so that becomes another dis-qualifier. 


                            I think what we're both saying is not that the acceptance of a proposal is a reward for sales performance, but that it's not a level playing field.

                            • 11. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                              FM pays attention to its business relationships as any corporations should.  And while that obviously does matter, getting chosen is an honor because they receive many more presentation topics than they can select and it is good that they have such a selection.  I've talked to a couple of Platinum people that were turned down too.  I assume getting asked back a 2nd time to present has to do with presentation and speaking skills since FM will have had a chance to really see how a presenter does.  All of us prefer not only a good topic, but one that is well delivered. 

                              • 12. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                                dburnham wrote:



                                I think what we're both saying is not that the acceptance of a proposal is a reward for sales performance


                                As a long-time speaker I can assure that has not been the case.

                                • 13. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                                  I surrender.  If I was wrong, I apologize.  If I was prophetic, time will tell.

                                  Meanwhile, I've registered for Devcon and booked my air travel. 

                                  • 14. Re: Devcon Presentation Selections

                                    We evaluate every DevCon proposal carefully. This year we had a record number of submissions--2.5 times more speakers and 5 times more sessions than we could accept. Everyone involved in speaker selection this year remarked on the high quality of the proposals. Please don't read anything into a rejection other than that we could not accept everything.


                                    If you want share the material you proposed with the FileMaker Community in another way, please send me a message. I will introduce you to our team who is looking for articles, webinars, and other content to share with the FileMaker Community.

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