Every year, Microsoft has an event for its employees called TechReady. I spoke at the 2015 event, TechReady 21, which ran from July 27 to 31, at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. I estimate there were about 6,000 people at the 2015 TechReady. I’d say about half of the attendees were from the U.S. and the other half were from other countries. For example, I talked to attendees from Sweden, Germany, China, Singapore, France, England, Australia, and Egypt.
The main idea of TechReady is for Microsoft employees, in particular those who work in the field with customers, to learn about Microsoft tools, technologies and products. This category of employees includes those who work in IT, Sales, Marketing, Support, and many other disciplines.
My talk was titled, “Understanding and Creating Neural Networks with Microsoft Technologies”. I explained what types of problems neural networks can solve, how neural networks work, described the five main Microsoft technologies that can create neural networks, and briefly went over seven non-Microsoft ways to create neural networks.
My talk had approximately 150 people attending. This is about what I expected because in every one-hour time slot there were about different 40 sessions for attendees to choose from. In my session I ran into one of my former students (Terry) from when I was a university professor many years ago, and also a colleague (Travis) I worked with at Microsoft in 1997.
Many of the attendees I talked to said that one of the primary values they get by coming to TechReady was the chance to connect with their colleagues in person. Put somewhat differently, much of the technical content at TechReady could have been delivered online, but delivering information in person has a great side effect of connecting people.