It’s hard to believe I’m coming up on my 20th year of working with Epic. I’ve been very fortunate to create a career out of my exposure to Epic systems and have been a part of so many fantastic projects and organizations in that time. As thousands of Epic end users board planes today and tomorrow to attend Epic’s UGM, I thought it would be fun to look at the changes of the event over the years. Some greatest hits and some terrible tragedies have impacted the event, and I’m sure everyone has great stories. Here is a look back at some of my memories.
Before Epic’s Intergalactic campus in Verona, UGM was held in downtown Madison at the Monona Terrace. With under a 1000 attendees, the venue was ideal for breakout sessions and workshops. Meals were served on the rooftop deck for several years while evening events were hosted in the conventions center main hall. Tuesday morning’s general session was just a short walk away to the Oscar Meyer Theater. From 1998 to 2001 this was the ideal setting for Epic to host their annual user group meeting. Some great themes and great exchange of information with Epic customers across the country.
On Tuesday September 11, 2001 there were 1200 attendees at the Oscar Meyer Theater for the general session. The screen changed from the presentation to live TV just as the second plane hit. People poured out of the auditorium and onto the streets. Lines formed at every pay phone and generous attendees, who had cell phones, lent them out to strangers to call home. Judy announced the meeting would go on as so many of us were stuck with the airport being closed. Being from Boston myself, we had an extended visit until we finally got a truck and drove home…9 people in 8 passenger van with all out luggage. The entire Epic team was accommodating and truly a wonderful host during a time of crisis of the entire nation.
2003 and 2004 saw a significant increase in attendance, 2300 to 3300, so it was time for a change in venue. The Alliant Energy Center would host the years of Lord of the Rings and Superhero themed meetings. New applications in ancillary services and lab systems was the big buzz for end users and the introduction to GUI based build options excited builders.
Early Epic campus picture
Epic opened its doors at the new Epic campus in 2005 and has hosted UGM there since. Voyager Hall was the home of UGM for several years. The u shaped double level training center served as the perfect venue for breakout sessions and held a large auditorium for the General Sessions until 2013.
By 2013 attendance had grown to over 13,000. Above is my poor quality picture with Judy showing the growth of the event year over year. Thus the introduction to probably one of the coolest auditoriums I’ve ever been to, Deep Space.
Epic’s Deep Space Auditorium (click here for an awesome look at the design and history of the auditorium).
Epic continues to keep UGM about the client and for the client. Limitations of invites to those in consulting continues to be a trend. The vendor showcase area stopped allowing 3rd party consultant firms to attend in 2013. Those of us who have been lucky enough to get invited have taken full advantage of learning of Epic’s areas of focus, growth, and initiatives that impact all of us who use Epic daily. The new auditorium at over 11,000 is already to small to host all the attendees. With the growth of XGM, I think UGM will flat line around 14,000 combined attendees (employees and clients) over the next couple years.
Over all my years, I’ve always enjoyed watching Judy take on the theme. I took this picture at 2013 UGM and remember all the times she came out on stage and would own it! In 2014 she started by announcing that Epic was acquiring General Electric…you could hear a pin drop. Then she said, “just kidding.” I’m sure Judy will do something to surprise us all this week as well.
Have stories from UGM? Share them in comments below.