I know that plenty of folks out there are probably waiting for the next blog post in the series of #e2conf 2011 Highlights from the Enterprise 2.0 conference that took place in Boston, MA, a few days back, by yours truly, but the truth is that in the last couple of days I have been distracted by what seems to be raving the Social Web as of late: Google’s attempt to get social with Google Plus.
A bunch of people have asked me to share across what my ¢2 worth of commentary would be like on that new social networking site and while I am working on that blog post already, I can certainly share with you folks that so far I feel, rather strongly, that it could well be the integrated, pervasive and circling around user experience I have been waiting for to kiss good-bye to all of the others. Including Twitter, which, for those folks who know me, would come as a big surprise, I am sure.
But so far on the first iteration of G+ I can see how all of the issues and bugs that I have been experiencing with Twitter over the years are now long gone! Forgotten altogether! But anyway, that’s not the purpose of today’s blog post. I thought I would go ahead and resume the #e2conf 2011 Highlights posts with this one where I will be sharing My Top 10 Reasons as to Why I Enjoyed #e2conf, this year more than never! The purpose of this entry is to capture all of those loose ends about the conference, before I go ahead and dive into the actual content of keynotes and breakout sessions, which is what the next series of articles would be about. So let’s go and do it! Let’s see all of those reasons…
- The Conference Venue:
In the last few years, the #e2conf event used to take place at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel and although the venue may have been rather appropriate, by moving it this year to The Hynes Convention Center, the difference has been tremendous! As a starting point, a lot more space to mix and mingle, or have private conversations as you may see fit; then closer to downtown, which means having proper food for lunch while still networking with attendees, or for those lovely walkabouts feeling you are *in* the city! Hosting an event in such a large venue allows for participants to feel there are plenty of folks, but without that sense of being overwhelmed, in fact, at times, it was quite the opposite! That all was quite a nice change from previous years and I, for one, welcome the switch for future editions as well.
Did I mention as well how the conference venue was just right opposite the Apple Store? hehe Yes, I know, you can’t beat that either, if you are an Apple Fanboy/girl!
- The Wi-Fi:
You would remember how last year the wi-fi worked really really well and provided us with a unique experience of staying connected to the event itself and not only those who were present with us, but also engaging virtually through our favourite social networking sites. Well, this year we had a new venue, so we were all, probably, a bit too skeptic that it may not work as designed / expected… The end result was phenomenal though! It worked rock solid for the entire conference event and it surely gave us all, conference attendees, a huge opportunity to share the excitement with those who couldn’t be with us in real life. Just wish Twitter would stop being so silly and not allow us to keep track of hash tags and previous events through the search engine, so that folks would be able to check the life tweet that went on throughout the several days it lasted.
Thank goodness for the wonderful piece of hard work done by Jim Worth, who managed to capture all of the live tweeting that went one during that time and shared it across over at the Enterprise 2.0 Boston Social Web Coverage June 20, 2011. Like I said, over time, one learns how to survive without wi-fi connection, while at a conference event, but when you have it, boy, does it make a difference in providing an immersive online learning environment where everyone benefits from?!?
- The Keynotes Format:
That’s right! The Keynotes new format was probably one of the most refreshing changes coming along from #e2conf and a clear sign the conference organisers are listening and engaging actively, because last year the feedback was rather brutal on the ill effects that vendor-driven keynotes would have for the audience. So this year they changed the format to make the keynotes less vendor-driven, much shorter!! -15 minutes maximum!, although I would have loved for 20 minutes; that’s probably the ideal format, in my opinion, for an engaging keynote without deviating too much into off the track talk and demo pitches.
One of the other things I really enjoyed about the keynotes is that they are all recorded and made available at The Brainyard and open / public to everyone to watch. Some of my favourites that I would strongly recommend folks to take a look at and watch through those precious little gems of 15 minutes would be: John Hagel, Mike Rhodin, John Stepper, Sameer Patel, Andy McAfee, Bryce Williams, Lee Bryant, Ming Kwan, Sara Roberts, Ross Mayfield, Bert Sandie and Deb Lavoy.
Not to worry, on my next round of blog posts I’ll be putting together some further thoughts on the content shared during these keynotes as well as what I learned from them, where I will include full links to their online presence, if you would want to follow up further with any of them. Stay tuned, but overall the content of those keynotes was just outstanding! True love and passion for the subject! (And I will come back to this point later on …)
- The Quality of the Breakout Sessions:
While I was in Boston, and throughout the entire week, I kept mentioning how the quality of the presentations was incredibly high; the highest I have seen in the several years I have been there. To the point where some of them were the best of their kind in the last 3 to 4 years! So to make them justice I will be blogging separately about each and everyone of those breakout sessions that I thought were wonderfully engaging learning experiences so that you could have a glimpse on what was shared and discussed further along.
Another key item that surely highlighted the success from the overall quality of the breakout sessions was the fact that there were a bunch of different tracks that certainly helped orient folks better on what to attend and what not: Analytics and Metrics; Architecture; Business Leadership; Community Management: Engaging External Audiences; Community Management: Inside the Enterprise, Governance, Risk & Compliance; Mobile Enterprise; People, Culture and Internal Communications; Sales and Marketing; Social Apps and Platforms; Sponsored; Technology Leadership and Video and Unified Communications.
Yes, I know you could say there was a bit of everything for everyone, which, I guess, is what every conference event should be aiming at eventually, don’t you think?
- The Big Shift:
This is probably one of the main reasons why I enjoyed the #e2conf event this year; more than anything else, because it, finally, showed good, strong, healthy indicators of maturity within the industry and how not only the technology is maturing, but also us, as knowledge workers, and the companies we work for. From a technology and social tools perspective to a pure social one, one where culture and other business related issues were almost omnipresent. All over the place!
Thus during the course of the week we saw how we have been shifting from that mentality of “What is Enterprise 2.0?“, to the “How do we do Enterprise 2.0?“, to this year’s “Why does our business need to live social? What business problems are we trying to address eventually? How can I benefit the most from Enterprise 2.0 to help my business thrive in the 21st century by going social?“. Indeed, quite refreshing, if you ask me! And about time, too!!
Now, we need to move further on with that prediction I did at the beginning of this year, where I mentioned that by 2012 we would all stop using terms like “Enterprise 2.0” or “Social Business” to just call it Work! Because that’s essentially what we are doing: smart work through social networks and communities.
- The Networking:
Well, after the first of the series of blog posts I put together with these highlights, which you can catch up with over here, if you haven’t read it just yet, there is very very little I would probably need to add, for sure! It was quite an experience, this year, like no other! Not only from the perspective of meeting up some good old friends with whom we all keep sharing our favourite war stories on Enterprise 2.0, but also new friends whom we could share our experiences with and learn from theirs! My favourite part of it though? Well, something that doesn’t seem to be happening at other conferences … The lack of competition and showing off you are doing things better. Just a pure sharing and learning experience on all things 2.0, although that may well be my own perception… what do you folks think?
- The Extra-curricular Activities:
It was rather interesting to see how, this year, compared to other occasions, the number of cocktails, receptions, after the conference day local gatherings, dinners, parties, pub crawl activities, etc. etc. had gone up sky high! At times those of us who were attending the event were even triple or quadruple booked for a single afternoon / evening! To the point where you would need to split up your presence in between events, so that you could hang out for some time without disappointing everyone. Tough to do, I know!, but GREAT fun! Although after I came back from Boston I realised I may have had far too much fun, as I keep trying losing those extra few pounds I brought back with me from the US 😛But from here I would want to share a special and warm thanks with all of those folks who hosted such events for us and made them all lots of great fun! I can assure you we had plenty of good laughs, good food, great company, and even better conversations! And you all know who you are … if you can still remember, right? hehe
- The Amazing and Immersive Learning Experience:
Was, indeed, bigger than ever! Now, I can imagine how most folks would think very fondly of the Enterprise 2.0 event as the place where they would go and find out more about what’s happening in the industry, talk to their already existing customers and new prospects, see what other vendors are doing in this 2.0 space, listen to what industry analysts would be talking about, network quite a bit with other conference attendees, etc. etc. But, to me, it’s all slightly different. To me it’s that yearly pilgrimage to meet up with fellow 2.0 practitioners, share back and forth our own experiences in helping drive social computing within the enterprise, AND as a result of it, learn and absorb, A LOT!, what other folks have done so that you could reuse it and re-apply it when you get back!
That learning experience is priceless. That, to me, is what makes it worth while going back to Boston, and Santa Clara, year after year. It’s those first hand exchanges of experiences with people who know exactly what you are going through that makes it all worth while. Yes, I know that plenty of people would say it’s a lovely echo chamber and everything, but, I am actually probably one of the very few who may feel very grateful for such echo chambers, because if there is anything out there that they are very good at is recharging your batteries, so when you come back in full force it would last you for a few months no end to keep gently pushing and become that trust agent who keeps aiming at making a difference at the company you work for!
It’s that adrenaline rush you know you need, but never dare to ask too often, because you may like it a bit too much. I actually did this year and I had a total blast, even though it took me a couple of days to recover my own voice as a result of it! Totally worth it, though!
- Good to Be Back in Boston!:
Of course, who wouldn’t, right?!?! I have been coming back to Boston to attend Enterprise 2.0 a few times already, but this year it was rather special. The weather was just stunning (At least, for the first couple of days),encouraging everyone to be out there, mixing and mingling with people, hanging out on the streets, at the local bars & restaurants, watching the world pass by, thinking how we may not be that different all of us altogether from one another. The fact that the venue was very much downtown surely made a huge difference in enjoying a good couple of summer days in Boston!
I also spent Sunday afternoon at Harvard, with a couple of good friends, and we enjoyed one of the most pleasant walks-around-town I can remember! Pictures, of course, will be shared shortly at my Flickr account. But don’t worry, later on in the week Boston showed us all the other side of things, when it wouldn’t stop raining for a day or two! Goodness! Hope next year it will hold up for a little bit longer! Boston in the summer can surely be as gorgeous as they say!
- The Love Fest Atmosphere:
And, finally, something that I may have hinted in a good number of the reasons I mentioned above, but which I think still deserves its own space over here. Heading back to Enterprise 2.0 every year has become that massive love fest of 2.0 practitioners who embark on that “fantabulous”activity of group hugs, lovely cosy dinners, pub crawling to interesting places, etc. etc. whenever they bump into each other, wherever that may well be!
There is no competition; there is no show-off; there are no intentions of diminishing one company over the other’s business; there is a fair amount of knowledge sharing, collaboration and learning, without ever asking anything in return; there is no knowledge hoarding where you try to absorb and suck on everyone else’s knowledge and experiences instead. I am not sure whether I am alone in living that perception, but, I, for once, appreciate it very much, because even if your competitors, customers and business partners are there, that whole aspect of open knowledge sharing, collaborating and learning, will make us all better, much better, at what we already do. And that’s something that, on its own, makes it totally worth it for me the over 30h+ of travelling, back and forth, time and time again.
Thus, as you can imagine, and after another one of those massively long and meaty blog posts, I will surely be looking forward to the next #e2conf event that would be taking place in Santa Clara, in November, even though I won’t be able to make it there I’ll be following it virtually, in anticipation for next June, when I will be heading back to Boston and revive an overall even better conference experience!
From here onwards, folks, we will be moving right into the overall content of the event and what I learned during those 4 days. Thus stay tuned for more to come! We are only just getting started! 🙂