Like many high-tech companies, Nokia’s success depends not only on its vast assembly of internal talent, but also on the numerous volunteer advocates and ambassadors of its solutions in the wild. To that end, Nokia formalizes recognition of top volunteers with its Forum Nokia Champion program. Since 2006, hundreds of hard-working community leaders have been awarded this 1-year designation… which brings with it free devices, training and occasional travel to events.
As I wrote recently, it was under these auspices that along with several others I recently enjoyed sponsored travel to Microsoft’s MIX11 conference. This came as a virtue of Nokia and Microsoft’s new close partnership around Windows Phone 7. It’s a given that Microsoft MVPs would be represented at a MIX event, but this was a first for Forum Nokia and travel arrangements were made almost at the last minute.
That would explain why, outside of our initial meetup, there was no real agenda for Champions at the event. On one hand it was nice to have the freedom to do as I pleased with my time there… but the professional in me felt twinges of guilt (due to Nokia’s expense) and some bit of awkwardness. Probably residue of Maemo and MeeGo conferences, where I always had some role.
Finding Further Purpose
To that point, it would have been nice to have had a defined role at MIX11… no matter how small. I can’t speak for every Champion in attendance but I did talk with several who agreed having a specific purpose at the event would have been ideal. After all, Microsoft’s MVPs were highly visible and involved… and they can be considered a Forum Nokia Champion analog.
So it was very helpful to spend a lunch with Ashley Walker of Nokia, along with a few other Champions, and kick ideas around. The general consensus was that we were recognized for past and potential contributions– why not take further advantage of that?
True, Champions are wearing that badge because they’ve already stepped up. But some of us can and will do more. We can certainly aid at events like MIX11 in some capacities. In addition to traditional event volunteer roles, many of us have already been teaching or presenting and could fill in for last-minute speaker vacancies or even provide ad hoc talks. We could also participate in cross-pollination activities, helping partners like Microsoft better understand the needs of Nokia developers and customers for instance. I would have especially liked a Champion-MVP social mixer.
I was accepted as a Forum Nokia Champion for Maemo/MeeGo community involvement. As Nokia distances itself from both platforms, I have to wonder where I can contribute. As long as MeeGo is viable I intend to support it, and I once again find myself on the Maemo community council in the hope that we can still find usefulness in what has been an interesting and rewarding experiment in open source.
What’s funny for me personally is that I have many years of Microsoft Visual Studio (and zero Qt so far) development experience, and at MIX11 it was confirmed that I could easily move to WP7 app coding based on that. The question is, could I easily live in both worlds? Do I even have the time and energy? Would it be a problem for Forum Nokia?
One persistent theme amongst Forum Nokia Champions since the Nokia-Microsoft announcement in February 2011 is “where do we go now?”. Questions about Symbian and Qt resound. Some Champions are immediately ready to move into the WP7 world but others are still heavily invested in Qt and reluctant to leave that ecosystem. It doesn’t help that Nokia has not identified a satisfactory migration path for them.
Then, too, questions have arisen about the future of Forum Nokia itself as Nokia undergoes significant organization changes. Microsoft once cancelled its MVP program (only to relent a few days later after a huge outcry)– hopefully Nokia has no such plans. But I do expect some sort of changes as the Nokia-Microsoft partnership develops further. Hopefully current (and even past) Champions will be approached to help define the future of the program. Ashley at least was very open to our input.
As for me, I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort and code up at least one Windows Phone 7 application. I hope to have more on that in a future article. For now, I’m interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts on what’s been covered here… especially those of Forum Nokia Champions past and present. Well?