I have been at many software events and have helped or have been part of the organization in a few of them. Based on that experience and the fact that I have participated in the last two editions, let me tell you that J On The Beach is a great event.
The main factors that leads me to such a conclusion are:
- It is all about contents. I have seen many events that, over time, loose the focus on the quality of the contents. It is a hard focus to keep, specially as you grow. @JOTB19 had great content: well delivered talks and workshops, performed by bright people with something to say which was relevant to the audience.
- I think the event has not reached its limit yet, specially when it comes to workshops.
- Designing the content structure to target the right audience is as important as bringing speakers with great things to say. As any event matures, tough decisions will need to be taken in order to find its own space and identity among outstanding competitors.
- When it comes to themes, will J On The Beach keep targeting several topics, or will it narrow them to one or two? Will they always be the same or will they rotate?
- When it comes to size, will it grow or will it remain in the current numbers? Will the price increase or will be kept in the current range?
- When it comes to contents, will the event focus more energy and time allocation on the “hands on” learning sessions or will workshops be kept as a relevant compared to the talks as they are today? Will the talks length be reduced? Will we see lightning talks?
- J On The Beach was well organised. A good organization is not the one that does not run into any trouble but the one that handles them smoothly so there is little or no perceived impact. This event has a diligent team behind it, based on the little/no impact I perceived.
- Support from local companies. As Málaga matures as software hub, more and more companies arrive to this area expecting to grow in size, so the need to attract local talent grows in parallel.
- Some of these foreign companies understand how important it is to show up in local events to be known by as many local developers as possible. J On The Beach has captured the attention of several of these companies.
- The organizers have understood this reality and support them to use the event to openly recruit people. This symbiotic relation is a very productive one from what I have witnessed.
- It is a hard relation to sustain though, specially if the event does not grow is size, so probably in the future the current relation will need to add additional common interests to remain productive for both sides.
- Global by default. Most events in Spain have traditionally been designed for Spaniards first, turning into more global events as they grow. J On The Beach is global by default, by design, since day 1. It is harder to succeed that way, but beyond the activation point it turns out to be easier to become sustainable. The organizers took the risk and have reached that point already, which provides the event a bright future in my opinion.
- The fact that the event is able to attract developers from many countries, specially from eastern European ones, makes J On The Beach very attractive to foreign companies already located in Málaga, from the recruitment perspective. Málaga is a great place not just to work in English but also to live in English. There are well established communities from many different countries in the metropolitan area, due to how strong the touristic industry is here. These factors, together with others like logistics, affordable living costs, good public health care system, sunny weather, availability of international and multilingual schools, etc., reduce the adaptation effort when relocating, specially for developer’s families. J On The Beach brings tasty fishes to the pond.
Let me name a couple of points that can make the event even better:
- It is very hard to find a venue that fits any event during its consolidation phase and evolves with it. This edition’s venue represents a significant improvement compared to last year edition. There is room for improvement though.
- It would be ideal to find a place in Málaga itself, closer to where the companies are located and places to hang out after the event, which at the same time, keep the good things the current venue/location provides, which are plenty.
- Finding the right venue is tough. There are decision-making factors that participants do not usually see but are essential like costs, how supportive the venue staff and owners are, accommodation availability in the surrounding area, availability on the selected dates, etc. It is one of the most difficult points to get right, in my experience.
- Great events deserve great keynote speakers. They are hard to get but often reflects the difference between great and must-attend events.
- Great keynote speakers does not necessarily mean popular ones. I see already celebrities in bigger and more expensive events. I would love to see in Málaga old time computer science cowboys. I mean those first class engineers who did something relevant some time ago and have witnessed the evolution of our industry and their own inventions. They are able to bring a perspective that very few can provide, extremely valuable in these fast pace changing times. Those gems are harder to see at big/popular events and might be a good target for a smaller, high quality event. I think that it would be a great sign of success if such a kind of professionals come to talk at J On The Beach.
I am very glad there is such a great event close to where I live. J On The Beach is not just worth for local developers but also for those abroad. I attend to several events in other countries every year with more name but less value than J On The Beach. It will definitely be on my 2020 agenda. Thanks to every person involved in making it possible.
Pictures taken from the J On The Beach website.