“It’s been 5 years? Inconceivable!” Don and I couldn’t believe it when the team told us that was how long it was since we planned an FME International User Conference. But a quick Google search dusted off James Fee’s post-FME-UC blog dated June of 2009, and Peter Batty’s writeup of the previous conference the year before.
What a flood of memories reading those posts brought back: the incredible user stories that were shared those weeks, the rich exchanges of knowledge between our customers and our staff, the product ideas that resulted (some of which took us 5 years to implement!) which continue to make FME ever more powerful, and the fantastic time with really the best people you could ever want to hang out with. So it is definitely time to do it again.
Now, in the intervening years we’ve certainly not ignored our users. The reality of tight travel budgets caused us to shift our emphasis from a central FME gathering to doing a myriad of local gatherings, resulting in our now-annual “FME World Tour”. This allows us to go out and connect face to face with users worldwide – earlier this year we had over 2000 spend a day with us across 49 events hosted in 20 countries. And our European friends have hosted multi-day FME events in Sweden and Germany that have been hugely successful and provided enormous opportunities to accomplish much of what we did with the first 3 FME International User Conferences here in Vancouver in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
We’ve also lit up the Internet “air waves” with an aggressive mix of webinars and online training, which provide the ingredients our users needs to keep them the highly taught and toned data ninjas that they are.
But after 5 years, it’s time to come together again in Vancouver. We’ll still do a FME World Tour in April and May, like we always do, but in June 2014, we’ll host the biggest FME information exchange ever imagined right here in our back yard. While the tour events and webinars serve many purposes very well, they just don’t create the potent knowledge cocktail that results from mixing FME veteran and newbie users together with those passionate Safe staff who create and support FME day in and day out.
Stir and sip that cocktail for a week and if you’re an FME user or manager, you end up a bit hungover from the massive explosions of time saving insights, the “real truth” previously known only by the Safe insiders, the discoveries of new data problem solving techniques, and the out-of-the-box thinking that can only be learned from someone from a different country and culture, who yet faces the same fundamental challenges as you.
If you’re a Safe staffer, partaking of the cocktail gives you insights galore as to the real problems faced by those ingenious FME users, and the true empathy that comes only from truly understanding those who use what you create.
So yes, it’s time. The team has put together an ambitious 4-day agenda filled with keynotes, user stories, workshops, and training — and a fully staffed Doctor’s Office at the ready at all times to go deep, deep, deep into the inner mysteries of FME. It is simply guaranteed to be an FME event unlike any other.
And hey, the conference also gives us an excuse to have a big celebration of Safe’s 20th birthday, and you definitely won’t want to miss that! Plus the conference is a bit like the Easter Crème Eggs of old in that we don’t do it every year, so take advantage of it while you can.
Long ago a GIS manager told me that FME is a very capable and valuable piece of software on its own, but in the hands of an expert, it was game changing in its power. It is our goal as we plan our 4th ever FME International User Conference to take the mild mannered FME users that arrive on day 1 and send them back as game changers, equipped to slay any and every data dragon quickly, cleanly, and efficiently. We’re looking forward to transforming you: sign up today. See you in June!
Bonus: We’ll try to get Carol Burnett to close off the conference, but if she can’t make it, I promise to do my best….