I thought I would try and convey some of the reasons why PASS is investing in international development.
The truth is that PASS is an international organisation. PASS has members all over the world. The Board has representation from at least three continents. Interest in both attending and organising PASS events overseas has never been higher. At the start of the year PASS had as many international events slated to run in 2012 as they did in North America. Last week we had the first SQL Saturday in Dublin, Ireland. It was an enormous success and people were still raving about it when they came to the SQLBits event in London last week. At the end of last year PASS also held the first SQL Rally outside of the USA and it was a sell-out. Johan Ahlen and Raoul Illyes put on a fantastic debut in the Nordic region. PASS can deliver great international events.
It all sounds like things are going swimmingly. So why are we so focused on investing at the international level?
Whilst PASS is growing it is not designed at present to scale to support this level of international interest. The governance isn’t there and neither are the local resources. Most of the tooling is in English and until we started down this track so was most of the content and communication. Growing globally means a lot more than translating emails to a new language or adhering to a few local laws (although both are important). There is a lot to consider.
As we look overseas and think about the challenges we face a number of questions begin to form. How do we make the content we generate relevant to a new audience who may not speak English natively? How do we ensure the content we deliver is customized for the region consuming it (ex. Sweden wants to read about upcoming local events in the Nordic Area). How do we identify, support and nurture existing communities and help them grow? What can we do to help develop the community leaders of tomorrow in these new locations? How do we make them care about PASS in the way that our volunteers and members care today? These are the types of questions that the PASS Global Growth Portfolio is faced with tackling.
We also need to make sure that PASS is a good community citizen and recognises its role in the wider SQL Server community. This applies both domestically and internationally. PASS isn’t the only community for SQL Server. It is part of a very diverse community ecosystem where it has an important and privileged role to play in supporting the entire SQL Server family. PASS needs to figure out what its role is and how it can help existing communities flourish as well as create new ones.
That said PASS has significant reach and influence, both directly to members and volunteers and indirectly to attendees of events and through physical and virtual Chapter meetings. By growing internationally this reach and influence will grow exponentially and that will be to everyone’s benefit. A larger, more cohesive and yet diverse community is a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community. One I hope we all want to be a part of.