Today, March 17th 2013, is St. Patrick’s Day. So while the rest of the world has already embarked on a massive celebration (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!!), I am also celebrating something rather special, so I thought I would let folks out there know about it, since I keep getting asked time and time again. No, it’s *not* my birthday, as the Social Web keeps proclaiming to the world and beyond. Actually, I have lied on the Social InterWebs, because my birthday already took place a few weeks back. However, on the Web, and a few years ago already, I updated all of my social networking profiles to put an incorrect birth date, just because I didn’t feel the world needed to know that personal detail. Oh, not to worry, I am not too fussed about my age, 41 this year, but it’s the principle that with that accurate date and a couple of other details people could impersonate you and steal your identity. So I thought I would lie about it and instead pick up a date that still is rather special and dear to me: St. Patrick’s Day.
Why is March 17th such an important date to yours truly?, you may be wondering, right? Well, mainly because 9 years ago, exactly today, I moved from The Netherlands to Gran Canaria, my home base, making it by now the second longest time that I have ever lived in a place, outside of my parents home. So, in a way, it is my home, don’t you think? That’s right! I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to be able to make it for that long, but I guess that once you settle in a place and you decide that’s going to be it, it kind of becomes a special place. One that is part of you, and you are part of it. And that, to me, is Gran Canaria.
I guess time flies pretty quickly when you are having fun, right? Because even though it looks like as if it was yesterday, with the odd blink here and there, it’s already been 9 years since I moved to the island. And I wouldn’t change a single one of those years. It does feel like a re-birth, for sure, since when it happened I was going through one of those life changing experiences that you know you are going to bump into at some point in your life that makes you question and wonder about the small things, i.e. you know, the things that matter. So, perhaps in a way, I am celebrating today my re-birthday after all. Who knows…
The thing is that life works in mysterious ways and does magical and wonderful things, because how ironic it is that today I’m celebrating that 9th year anniversary of having moved to Gran Canaria, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where I am staying for a couple of days to participate and present at the Congres Intranet 2013 (#intra13 is the Twitter hash tag, if you would want to follow it up over the next couple of days…). Yes, I know, very ironic, isn’t it?
Anyway, it’s still a wonderful celebration and I just couldn’t help dropping by over here in this blog and, like every year, share a short note of appreciation for how much of an impact such a tiny island can have in a person, like myself and everyone else who may have lived or visited there. So perhaps I thought I would share over here a couple of snapshots that would give you a glimpse of why Gran Canaria has got a special place in my heart for over the last 9 years and still going strong …
And those pictures surely remind me of the warm weather that I am already missing while over here in Utrecht, where it’s rather cold [Brrr] despite spring being just around the corner! So I guess it will also help me as an incentive of what awaits me in a couple of weeks when I return back home. Yes, that’s right, Utrecht is not the only city I’m going to visit during this business trip. I’m going to be on a little bit of a European Tour that will take me in a couple of days to Paris (Where I will be attending and presenting at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit - Follow the hash tag #e20s on Twitter, if you would be interested), then from there onwards on to Leuven, Belgium, to present at BLUG (#blug) and over the coming weekend onto Prague, to present as well at the Heutagogy Conference event on March 27th.
Goodness! I told you, a little bit of a European Tour, wasn’t it? I am excited already and I haven’t started it just yet! Either way, like I said, in two weeks time I will be enjoying the lovely warm weather, the lovely people, the lovely food from the one island that decided to become my new home 9 years ago: Gran Canaria.
Thus happy re-birthday to me!
PS: As usual, if you are going to be around any of those cities while I’m on the road, throughout this business trip, and would want to meet up for a drink or a coffee, or even a quick “Hi!”, feel free to reach out through the usual social spaces … I’m just about to end the self-inflicted Twitter and G+ silence, provoked by something I talked about a little while ago …
IBM Connect 2013 Highlights – Pardon the Interruption in Social Business – The Recording #ibmconnect
A couple of months ago, when my good friend and fellow colleague, Louis Richardson, came to talk to both my twin brother Luis Benitez and myself to participate at the IBM Connect 2013 conference event in Orlando, Florida, following the well known format of “Pardon The Interruption” we knew, back then, it was going to be a risky bet, one where we thought it was going to be rather a huge massive smash hit or just simply a notorious everlasting failure. Since all three of us do enjoy challenging ourselves on a regular basis we decided though to, what the h*ck, take the risk and go for it! We may as well enjoy the ride along the way, right? Well, we surely did! That’s how “Pardon The Interruption in Social Business” came into being and how it was a stunning success we can now go and treasure for a long while…
Indeed, that was the breakout speaker session the Three Louie (#troislouie) decided to embark on, making it the very first time in history that three Luis’ heavily involved with Social Business would be making it on stage at the same conference event, at the same date, at the same time talking with passion about the same subject. Of course, there was a bunch of preparation that took place before that day arrived. Louis got us all three organised (without even sending a single email across, by the way, but collaborating through IBM Connections Activities < W00t! Yes, walking the talk!) and before we knew it we were off to something magical.
Earlier on, indeed, while in the preparation stages, we knew that in order to make it a successful event we needed to count on a little bit of help from the audience, so a few weeks before the session took place we dived into Twitter and started socialising the #ptisocialbiz hashtag, where folks, who would be attending the session live, would be capable of sharing across their questions so that we would then be able to incorporate them into the PTI presentation and give ourselves 60 seconds each, or less, to share that insightful thought that would serve as an educated answer. Somewhat.
And the audience responded! Oh, boy, and brilliantly! Overall, we got through over 18 of those questions over the course of one hour making it a quite fun, interesting and fast paced presentation, which is something that was well perceived seeing the time the session took place at (5:30pm to 6:30pm). Right from the start we knew that we all three needed to be somewhat radically different, so we decided to play some roles as well where Luis Benitez was the traditionalist social product manager, Louis Richardson was the pragmatic social sales evangelist and yours truly was the social business outlier, a role I have grown to become rather fond of over the course of time, perhaps, mostly as a result of “A World Without eMail“.
The vibe during the session was amazing. We had a packed up room with very few spaces left and from what we were told later on in the week coming closer to 300 people attending the session overall. Right then I realised it was going to be a smash hit. The atmosphere was just perfect: relaxed, condescending, inspiring, rather jolly and, above all, brilliantly engaging. You could feel it in the air. Just brilliant! Just the perfect ambience to let your brain do its magic and let yourself go, let all of that passion, wit, knowledge and accumulated experience on living social shine through, just as the audience was rather attentive, alert and willing to be wowed! Well, we were the ones who ended up ourselves being the ones wowed and big time!
We know the quality of the audio throughout the large room was not up to the optimal stage. In fact, we were told by those looking after the sound / mikes that we would better stay close to the main stage as to avoid poor quality of the audio coming through and that was perhaps a bit of a bummer, because, originally, we had the intention of mixing and mingling with the audience, walking about, and bringing forward different points of attention depending on where we may well be in the large room. Oh, well, may be next time around!
The good thing though is that right from the beginning we knew the session was going to be recorded and everything, so, at least, we would have a good quality recording to share across when it would be over. And we surely did. In fact, Louis has already put it together with a copy of the slide-ware we used and shared it across over at his Slideshare account. So folks who may be interested in taking a peek and go through it may be able to do so with the embedded code shared below:
What an adrenaline rush! Still getting shivers through my spine as I keep reflecting on what we learned going through that exhilarating experience of throwing yourself into the unknown and see what would happen, and in front of such a large audience! Just wonderfully delightful and highly recommended altogether!
Judging from the superb, generous feedback comments we received throughout the following couple of days, both offline and online, it looks like it was worth it. My good friend Stu McIntyre probably summed it up nicely with this particularly tweet that we surely appreciate very much, specially, thinking about the initial reservations we had when initially diving into it for the first time:
— Stuart McIntyre (@StuartMcIntyre) January 29, 2013
To me, it was also a bit of a special session, since it was the first time that I ever spoke at IBM Lotusphere / Connect in the 5 years I have been attending the conference event in a row, and it is probably something that I will keep remembering and treasuring as that new format presentation that perhaps will mark a new beginning where instead of focusing on delivering master classes of slide-ware we eventually throw ourselves into the audience to embark on a 2-way open dialogue bridging both the online and offline worlds, where both speakers and attendees learn just as much as we can from one another. Surely one of those fond experiences I won’t be forgetting any time soon!
So much so that perhaps there will be a v2.0 next year where we will expand further on in the concept and take it to a new level. Who knows… For now, we just want to thank dearly and sincerely Stu, for that wonderful piece of generous feedback shared across in the moment, and to everyone else who came over to our session and participated rather actively to help us keep up with our learning curves, the pace and the rhythm on what it is like thriving in social business where the collective keeps trumping the individual master class(es) of those so-called slide-ware prone gurus
If you have a chance to go through the recording and the presentation, we also want to thank you for taking the time to go through it and please do let us know through the comments what you thought about the session itself and how we could improve it for the next time. Because, you know what they say, right? There is always plenty of room for improvement! Practice makes perfection (Or so they say…)
We hope to see you all next year at the next #ptisocialbiz session, hoping it will be just as much fun, entertaining, educational and enlightening for everyone all around as this year’s, if not more altogether!
[Oh, did you notice our answers for one of the very last questions from the session on "What is your personal plan / objective for 2013 to support the adoption of Social Business and IBM Connections?" Well, if you have been reading this blog for a little while now, like since the beginning of this year, or longer, you will know what my answer was…
… Challenge is ON!]
As you may have noticed by now, the little experiment that I had in mind to go and play with while I was attending last week’s IBM Connect 2013 conference event in Orlando, Florida, didn’t work too well, not because of lacking the intention, the motivation or the energy for it, but mainly because I killed my voice on the first day of the event. On Sunday. Yikes! How unfortunate and what a bad timing, because I was really looking forward to exploring that new experiment I have been toying with for a while now. Oh, well, next time around then, I guess, right? Either way, I am now back home, still in full recovery mode from 36 hours non stop return trip, but you may be wondering why I broke my voice on the first day of the event and what provoked it, right? Well, nothing more than plenty of wonderful conversation after conversation around perhaps what I feel has been the main theme throughout the event: Social Business Adoption!
Indeed, if there would be a highlight of what I learned, what I participated in, spoke about, talked about with fellow colleagues, customers and business partners, I could surely summarise it with a single key word: Adoption! It was truly fascinating to see how mature the Social Business field has become over the years and how plenty of the customers I talked to last year around Adoption were this year’s keynote or breakout speakers sharing their story, their journey, on becoming socially integrated enterprises. Yes, fascinating is a good word to describe the overall experience and the huge sense of pride I experienced (even today!) when I get to see customers sharing very powerful stories all around their social business journey(s) with lots of incredibly refreshing and inspiring success stories. Yes, of course, and the good lessons learned here and there, too!
I think it was also the first time ever, in the 20 years the conference has been running (All along known before as Lotusphere), that there were more case studies and customers on stage and breakout sessions than ever before, which I guess is a really good sign that highlights how mature the whole field of social business is when the customers are the primary focus. That’s probably the best part of the conference, where you just sit back, relax, free your brain from any constraint and just learn. That is essentially what I did for the entire week non-stop!
I tried to attend a good number of the sessions with customer case studies and success stories, but, unfortunately, I didn’t succeed in making some of them. Not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I had lots of other customer meetings myself, plenty of them for the first time ever that we meet face to face, and that I am sure next year they would be on stage as keynote or breakout speakers themselves sharing their own story. Yes, I feel that confident it will happen. The energy was there, the excitement, too!, but specially, the commitment, purpose and focus to make it happen all around. In fact, I raised the challenge for each and everyone of them that a year later they should be the ones on stage!
And they accepted it! Game ON!
Either way, like I was saying, the main reason why I broke my voice during the event on the first day was because of the huge amount of conversations I had with people, fellow colleagues, customers and BPs, non stop around adoption strategies and mainly describing IBM’s own journey towards becoming a successful social business that prevented me from even hanging out at the poolside bar, which, for instance, was the place that I spent most of my time last year. Well, this year I only visited it once and on Thursday evening, once the event was over! Ha! I need to work on that, I guess, and get closer next year. After all, the weather was just gorgeous whole week long!
Over the course of the next few weeks I will be sharing plenty of additional highlights of what I experienced and learned throughout the conference, since I will have a chance to reflect on what I was exposed to and inject those learnings into new blog entries that I will try to connect with the overall theme from this blog. Perhaps the most exciting one insight I can share now is how a good number of the conversations I had moved around Open Business, which is starting to grab more and more attention by customers as an opportunity to open up, become more transparent, honest, and authentic on how they would want to conduct their business with their own customers. So I will have a good chance as well to talk about that over the course of time. So much so that on the #ptisocialbiz session that I co-presented I stated how my main objective for 2013 is going to be to drop the Social Business moniker and instead adopt Open Business.
For now though I thought I would just point you into perhaps one of the main resources out there that I will keep referencing time and time again about the event itself, which, in this case, it’s the link to the Livestream presentations that took place and that, although didn’t cover them all extensively, some of my favourites were recorded for later viewing as well. Like the Opening General Session, which I thought didn’t present us with much of a WOW! – Bang! Boom! feeling confirming, if anything, that social business is now mainstream. It’s here to stay and it’s here to transform the way we do business and instead of focusing on a massive spree of new features and capabilities the shift now has moved on into how I can apply it to my day to day business, regardless of the industry. Refreshing altogether!
Another favourite session worth while checking out would be the keynote from Day 2 where there were some of my favourite case studies shared through a short video clip, along with 3 live customer stories where David Jones pretty much just nailed it, sharing plenty of insights and helpful tips on accelerating their own adoption of social software for business! But for the rest, I will be talking about it at a later time in a number of different articles, like I mentioned above. Perhaps, for now, I will give you a teaser sharing along, and like I have been doing for other conference events, the .PDF file with all of the extensive live tweeting I did during the whole week, so you could have a glimpse on what customer case studies sessions I was rather interested in, what other general sessions I attended and, specially, what kinds of conversations I embarked on throughout the event itself, both face to face and virtually.
As usual, you would be able to find the .PDF file over at my Slideshare account (Here is the direct link to it), and here’s the embedded code, so you can take a look right away and breeze through it. Like I mentioned, I will be covering in the near future plenty more ground of those social business adoption stories, some of them so inspiring that I still have got a lovely aftertaste that will be difficult to get rid of. So here it goes:
And that would be it for me for today for the first, of several, blog entries on some major highlights from IBM Connect 2013, although I am thinking I’m not going to share them all right away, so I can pace through some other interesting reflections I have been musing and pondering about since my last article over here. That way we can balance it a bit nicely in between multiple other things that are happening at the moment.
Oh, in case you are wondering, the picture I decided to include above on this post was also one of my favourite highlights from the overall event: a live snapshot taken while at the Opening General Session where Alistair Rennie (General Manager for IBM’s Collaboration Solutions) gave a huge shout (and mention!) to a smashing, talented, gifted group of individuals who are taking brand advocacy into new levels: the IBM Champions for Collaboration Solutions. Splendid highlight for sure and the perfect way to kick off quite an amazing event: start by treasuring and nurturing your brand advocates and social evangelists.
It’s the least you could do to recognise, acknowledge and embrace their extended hard work and their ever going the extra mile for you and your brand!