Before I start this little controversial blog post, I would like to give a little context of the situation, which made me come with conclusions below. About 7 years ago I started to a co-organize conference called wroclove_rb https://wroclove.rb. About 5 years ago together with a few of my friends, we started to organize conference Programistok https://programistok.org.
Since I started to help with wroclove_rb - I perfectly remember that all the tickets were sold in one minute despite that we didn’t do any marketing actions - to be honest, I started to help with organizing to get the conference pass, because it was the 3rd year in a row when I wasn’t fast enough to buy a ticket. After first two editions of Programistok, where we ( well mostly Mateusz Andrzejewski and Maciej Korsan) did great marketing job, following editions didn’t need any marketing like wroclove_rb. Tickets were sold out in one, maximum of two minutes.
For a long time, one question was coming to my mind. “Why people want to go across the whole country to spend a few hours at our conferences so much?”. The first obvious answer was “because as organizers we did everything perfectly”. But let's be honest - we knew that is not the answer. The organization was professional, but that is not a reason to press “refresh” 70 times per minute on the ticket-selling system page when we release tickets. Today, finally I think I know the answer, but we will come back to that.
In 2N our small but experienced team is getting bigger and stronger. We deliver more and more projects, the amount of satisfied clients is growing and in the ruby community, we are more and more recognizable as reliable partners. Therefore, as CEO, I have less time for coding, and I have to think more about sales. I read more and more about marketing and how important it is to be able to sell your services well. It is hard to disagree with this from the CEO or CFO perspective. It's hard to disagree with this from the perspective of what the employee market looks like and how hard it is to keep a good developer in the company.
However, with each subsequent article describing how the most important element of a software house is sales, my doubts about that started to grow. Doubt fueled by information about subsequent safety-critical issues like those:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opEU206RnUY (polish version).
Today's revelation came when I was viewing the landing page of one of the largest software houses on the Polish market. Landing page contained a beautiful promo-movie showing how work in this idyllic corporation looks like. There was almost everything in this film:
- ping pong,
- scrum with colorful cards,
- smiling team,
- very fancy office,
- even dancing!
However, something was missing in all of this. Programming. None of the frames of the film presented a programmer writing the code. Yes, I know - it doesn't sell. Yes I know - it can look boring from the outside. But that's what we do. It is this work that lies at the heart of our companies. It depends on whether the project succeeds or not - and in extreme cases human life depends on it. That's what the best programmers want to do - code.
Two days after writing this post, Programistok begins. And I understand why I get excited about it because:
- I will meet programmers interested in raising their competences and skills,
- I will be able to hear technical presentations,
- no one will try to sell anything - everyone appearing at these types of conferences crave for knowledge and exchange of experience,
- I will not waste a single hour at the presentation which should really be intended for the HR, marketing or finance department.
So here are my three thoughts I would like to share today:
Let's focus on IT when organizing an IT conference.
Let's be fair to people who more than once finance their own flight, stay and ticket.
If we promise them an IT conference, let's give them the best speakers we can afford (from this place I would like to greet all the speakers present at wroclove_rb and Programistok - now I am sure that the organization of the conference is only the icing on the cake, which you prepared by your fleshy presentations).
If the conference has a small budget - cut the refreshments, do not buy t-shirts, and pay for editing a promotional film. Let's focus on technology - because this is our main responsibility. If our goal is not to spread knowledge among fellow developers, then we don't really organize IT conferences.
As IT project managers, remember that without money and sales, the company will not survive on the market, but at the same time, remember to care for our developers. Let's think if it is worth spending part of the marketing budget on development of developers. It can give them more time to write Open Source projects in new technologies - in the end, we don't want them to learn them on the production of our client application.
Let's focus not only on the quality of marketing but also on the quality of the code we produce - let subsequent developers do not have to swear at the code they found after the team that an excellent marketer sold as "seniors".