Looking forward to 2020

Pieter Gheysens
Dec 31, 2019 · 7 min read

2019 has been another interesting year to find the right balance in my life and actually I stopped believing that I will ever find the magic sweet spot. There are just too many moving factors and I need to take it how it comes and make adjustments along the way. Planning too far in the future and trying to have everything under control is just impossible and it seems I’m much more sharp as a person when there’s some uncertainty and risk involved. It remembers me how productive/efficient I could be in the study period before taking exams at university when I wasn’t really prepared as I should have been. Procrastination in a good way! At least for me. My parents certainly did have another view on my life as a student :-). The first 8 (party) months of every academic year were probably the best of my life. The other months were all about controlling the damage and getting the best possible results in the shortest period of time. Minimal effort, maximum outcome.

One of my learning moments in 2019 was that I start to accept to be at the tipping point of moving over to a more business role instead of still holding on to the role of a (technical) DevOps consultant. I tend to focus more on different aspects of running a company and being responsible for all non-technical stuff which actually brings me back to my studies (Managerial Economics/Informatics).

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Techorama

As an operational team with amazing community volunteers in Belgium and the Netherlands (20+) we got used to run two editions of Techorama in one year but it still blows my mind how much time we keep investing in the overall organisation from start to finish. There simply aren’t any quiet months anymore and there’s always something that needs our attention. We blocked about 4 official working days every month but this definitely doesn’t cut it to keep everything aligned.

Back in 2018, I wrote about 5 years of Techorama and how we developed a business from our hobby/passion but the last couple of months I’m realizing that not treating Techorama as a full-time job/business is also a dangerous situation. To stay ahead in the game for many years to come, we need to invest more in a stable and professional framework to become fully responsible for the trust that’s given to us by our partners (70+) and attendees (2800+). We cannot drop the ball and should never drift away from the premium experience for all our stakeholders. Never.

Techorama has also become a software company and in the background there are many (custom) tools being developed/used to automate and centralize our work. Some tools have become crucial in our workflow and made it possible to move Techorama (easily) to another country. This full landscape of software tools remains key if we want to expand to other countries in the future.

In 2020 we will go public with Oganize, a suite of conference tools that can be used by other conferences. First we solved our specific problems as conference organizers and now we might help others do the same.

Years ago, we started Techorama and slowly we have built our custom set of tools because we believed automation would help us to scale and communicate in a professional way with all our stakeholders. Soon we will be ready to go public with some of our tools to help you do the same.

Conference solutions built by the Techorama Team.

This will be an important step forward to run our business from January to December. Interested in the various conference solutions (Speaker Wish List, Speaker Travel, Ticket Administration, Agenda Management, Partner Portal, Mobile App, Digital Signage, Lead Retrieval, Feedback Centralization, …) we have to offer, contact us via board@techorama.be.

Coming up, the Las Vegas editions of Techorama in 2020:

Xpirit Belgium

A bit more than a year ago Xpirit Belgium was launched and 2019 was the real test to go forward with a business model to scale consultancy services beyond ourselves. Without doing any promotion/marketing or account management in Belgium we succeeded growing the business organically and added 4 extra people to the team. The most important challenge for 2020 is to stay loyal to our core values/principles:

  • Only help customers where we can bring added value to the table. Saying no from time to time is about being honest and setting the right expectations.
  • Add people to the team who we can fully trust with excellent learning skills. It’s not only about what you master today, but it’s about your mindset and your willingness to learn and adapt to new situations.

In 2019 we have completed various assignments at 29 different customers and I’m confident we will be contacted again by a lot of these customers in 2020 to help them with new projects. This underlines our ambition to become a trusted advisor to solve IT problems in DevOps, Cloud Architecture and Mobile Development. At many customers we are not just adding an individual to help, but every customer gets the full support of the entire Xpirit team when required. We are so much better together and our skills are complementary.

The number one question I’m asked lately is “how big is Xpirit Belgium?”. The larger the number the more impressive it may sound, but we are not aiming for quantity, we are going all-in for quality! Expansion is not the primary goal and growing the business and adding new people to the team will only happen when it feels 100% right. We want to stay a small flexible business that’s sustainable and profitable. Everyone involved must enjoy his/her working days, should have a clear opinion about technology and may influence the future of Xpirit Belgium. Are we there yet? Have we met all our goals? No, but we will work hard in 2020 to move further into the right direction.

Interested in knowing more about our business and what we have to offer? Contact me!

VISUG

2020 will be the year that the non-profit user group VISUG will be fully managed by another team. Together will Gill I have been running the user group for about 14 years and it’s about time to give the keys to a younger team that has fresh ideas to drive the Belgian developer community forward. We will stay involved in the background for a while and will be available for help where needed.

Personal

Needless to say it’s difficult to block enough time for my family and myself because there’s always work that can be done when sitting behind my desk. I do care about taking enough time outside my work bubble and that’s why I like to travel with my family and try to switch off the work button for a longer period of time. During the 2020 summer holidays we already have planned a big trip to Cambodia/Vietnam and Hong Kong with our children to experience yet another culture. We happen to plan a big vacation every two years and this has given us so much pleasure and piece of mind. My wife has been the driving force about our travel plans and I’m lucky to follow the schedule. Spending money on travel experiences makes us happier than just buying stuff. Don’t start too late with planning (big) trips with your (young) children. Before you know it, they will get old enough to travel on their own and might prefer to travel with their friends!

I also find it a big relief that my wife, family and most of my friends are not working in the IT sector. It helps to see things in perspective and not always have to talk about work-related topics.

Another thing that keeps me going is doing sports where I can truly clear my mind. When I was a teenager I was addicted to different sports and this has decreased heavily over the years when I started to work. Certainly in 2019 I have decided to not set this aside completely and forced myself some ambitious goals. In November I finished the Authentic Athens Marathon and in 2020 I want to (re)start playing some tennis/padel. It keeps surprising me how much energy I get out of doing some (competitive) sports. Also the social aspect of doing sports together is heavily underestimated.

Doing more sports in 2019 may have decreased my reading time and I haven’t read enough books lately. Something to fix in 2020? Adding more audio books to my playlist when commuting to work?

Conclusion

2020 will be another big year for me with lots of challenges and surprises. Luckily there are 48 hours in a day to find the right balance in our lives! :-) Spend your time wisely and enjoy the ride in 2020!

Into ALM

Blogging About Application Lifecycle Management with TFS/VSTS

Pieter Gheysens

Written by

Visual Studio ALM MVP — Managing Director Xpirit Belgium (2018) — Founder of Techorama (2014) — www.techorama.be — www.xpirit.com

Into ALM

Into ALM

Blogging About Application Lifecycle Management with TFS/VSTS

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