Once or twice every year, Microsoft has an event for its employees in the “SMSG” (Sales, Marketing, and Services Group) division called TechReady. I spoke at the 2016 event, TechReady22, which ran from February 1 to 5, at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. I estimate there were about 6,000 people at the 2016 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 using Microsoft Technologies”. I explained what types of problems neural networks can solve, how neural networks work, and described the six main Microsoft technologies that can create neural networks.
My talk had approximately 450 people attending. I’ve given slight variations of this talk in the past. In 2012 there were about 30 people in the audience. In 2013 there were about 55 people. In 2015 there were about 150 people. So, it looks like interest in neural networks and machine learning is steadily increasing.
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.