Why Attend a Huge Conference like Google Cloud Next?

With over 10,000 attendees, long lines and all of the sessions available online. One might wonder why anyone would want to attend a huge conference like Google Cloud Next. Not to mention in an expensive city like San Francisco and all of the additional travel expenses.  

In my experience attending the keynotes and sessions, I was inspired by the new products and ideas that were being shared. However, I found that I had largely the same inspiration when I watched the YouTube versions of those talks too. So was going to Cloud Next worth it? Yes, because of the interactions and connections with other people.

So was going to Cloud Next worth it? Yes, because of the interactions and connections with other people.

In one keynote session, I sat next to a gentlemen from India who worked in the air conditioning industry. It turns out that his company uses cloud computing to provide a better experience for customers needing repairs, a clearer picture of their business and its needs, and a more efficient repair service. Honestly, I would have never thought about the air conditioning industry as being particularly innovative. That discussion generated a few ideas about what we might be able to do at St. Norbert that I would have never had if I had not attended Next. Often times, we get stuck in our industry bubbles and never get to see beyond them. I met several people throughout the week that generated a ton of great ideas.

Having met many people outside of education was awesome, but I was also able to connect with several people in higher education too. These discussions helped me see where we were compared to other colleges around the world in terms of cloud computing. I was able to both learn about some pitfalls we might avoid and share some insights on what we are doing well at St. Norbert. All of the discussions were engaging, relevant, and created food for thought when I got back to campus. I was blown away by what some K-12 and higher education institutions were doing with cloud computing and hope we can catch up. 

The best part about Cloud Next for me was meeting the people who develop and promote the applications and services  I use everyday. There were Googlers aplenty. I was able to try out and talk to the developers of Jamboard, Google’s new team based whiteboard solution. I talked at length with the great higher education team about our successes and failures with G-Suite and how it can be improved for higher education. I even got to nerd out at bit with a few members of the Chrome and Android teams.


One of the best interactions I had was with one the the product leads on the AppMaker team. As every Googler I spoke with, my conversation was welcomed and I could feel his excitement about his product and willingness to listen to ideas and share his perspectives. We walked for a few blocks and by the time we arrived at the next venue, we had talked about all sorts of amazing things.

Being able to talk directly to the developers at Google allowed me to explore more deeply into the thought processes behind product decisions or where Google might be going in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to give feedback and ask questions. Most importantly, I came back with more knowledge and ideas about how we can better leverage the tools we use everyday and new tools we have yet to try. So taking advantage of a conference like this is a great idea as long as you take the time to meet people and talk with them.  If you do that, it’s more than worth the price of admission.


Oh, and the food was pretty good too!