E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Travelling

Relentless Networking and the Power of Now

Even though I am now an independent freelancer working as a trusted advisor to clients around Social Business and Digital Transformation, after 17 years of corporate life at IBM, there are still some things that I guess don’t change much, or, at least, not as fast as I would have hoped for. One of those areas is business travelling, that, although not happening as often as it used to be, it’s one of those activities where I still see plenty of room for improvement, specially, when trying to combine being on the road and still keep up with my digital activities. You would think after all of these years, and several hundreds of business trips, I would get the hang out of it already, but, alas, it doesn’t seem to be the case. At least, not yet. It’s just like I disappear into thin air, except perhaps for Twitter, for a good few days and, before I realise and try to make an effort about coming back into the Social Web, I am then back home from travelling, and we are back in business. Goodness! Will I ever be capable of reconciling business travelling and digital interactions? Probably not, and here is why.

Relentless networking. A rather short and straight to the point description as to why I would never be capable of reconciling my online social interactions with the offline world, while I am on the move. Never mind that as soon as I leave the country, my mobile phone turns itself into a brick. A rather expensive brick. Somehow my motivation then to remain connected just disappears, since I can’t come to terms with the fact of paying hugely expensive roaming charges for something that it is starting to feel more of a right, yes, the Right to a Decent Internet Access, even for road warriors like myself, when we are away from our traditional work locations. 

Twitter is perhaps an exception to all of this. Its mobile immediacy and ever growing global reach, along with the very little consumption of data while on the road, allows me to still keep an eye on all things digital. But it’s rather interesting to see how I essentially morph, on purpose, how I use this social networking tool whether I am working at my home office or while on the road. At home, it’s my preferred and most energising, inspiring, serendipity-prone, personal learning network. When I travel it’s my main method of how I connect and reach out to people in my network(s). And that’s where the relentless networking I mentioned above kicks in.

I guess, all along, my main focus, when I am embarking on a business trip, is to essentially put an emphasis on connecting with people and reach out, whether they are part of my network(s), or not, through face to face conversations. Late last year I went through the Strengths Finder assessment (More about this one item coming up shortly as a new blog entry, by the way) and I ”discovered” how the number #1 top strength from yours truly is that one of Connectedness. It didn’t surprise me. Perhaps it confirmed my ever growing inner urge to connect with others through face to face interactions, when I am in the road, sensing I may not have the chance to meet up with those people in the near / short term. So better make the most out of it while we are enjoying the now. The present. And then continue to make use of digital technologies, when back at the home office, to help enhance those already existing personal business relationships. 

I suppose that’s how I roll and I venture to state that pretty much describes what I have been involved with last week, when I travelled for a good few days to Brussels to do a workshop and a remote presentation for two different events (I will be blogging shortly on a different entry about this as well). And then I decided to spend the rest of the time meeting up good old friends, or new ones, who may be around and who would be able to meet up for a drink, or a meal, or both. Understanding that, you know, your online social interactions will always be there. However, the connecting with others in the now is just a split moment in our life times. You need to be at the right place and at the right moment with a specific purpose, that one of letting serendipity do its magic. And from there onwards go with the flow and enjoy it.

That’s something that I have learned, of all of unexpected places, and I am sure it may well be a bit of a shock for most of you, specially, if you won’t have one, but from my dog, a Belgian sheepdog: Boira, who happens to understand and embrace the now pretty well. To him everything happens in the moment, so you may as well be ready to enjoy it and make the most out of it, because thinking about the past or wondering about the future just doesn’t fit, or as Bil Keane would say: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present“. 

That’s probably the main reason as to why after all of these years, perhaps it’s now a good time for me to stop, once and for all, trying to find a balance between offline and online interactions while I am travelling and focus perhaps on the now, i.e. on what I can do right there, right then, at that very moment, when connecting and reaching out with other people face to face, understanding that online digital interactions, after all, can wait, while the ubiquitousness of the present moment, right when serendipity is just about to strike, can’t. And that’s when it hit me last week, while in Brussels, because, in between events, I only had a single thought in mind: network, network and network again.

Relentlessly. Non-stop. You know how it goes. You are your network, your network is you. It’s what you build and nurture over the course of time. It takes an awful lot of energy, effort and intent. But it’s just totally worth it. And sometimes it’s good to have a reminder to Look Up, to pause and reflect from all of the hectic digital interactions, and let the world slow down for a bit having some bloody good conversations, as my good friend Euan Semple would say. Well, that’s just what happened last week while enjoying one of my favourite cities in Europe, Brussels. And, now that I am at my home office again, it’s time to go back to all things digital to keep cultivating those already existing interactions and newly built (offline) relationships. 

Till the next business trip … 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer, People Enabler and Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide and a well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus

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Gran Canaria – Celebrating the Mini-Continent

Today is a special day for yours truly. A very special day, actually. And I am not saying that because I know how perhaps half of the world (if not the whole world already!) may well be enjoying the various different celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. So, if you are celebrating it, Happy St. Patrick’s Day nonetheless! Hope you are all having a good time with your loved ones, family and friends. The reason why I am very joyous and rather happy today though is because it’s exactly 10 years ago today that I decided to reboot my life, restart with a clean slate, and make a move to Gran Canaria, where I might find a new home and a new life altogether. That’s right, March 17th, 2004, I took a flight from The Netherlands (Rotterdam, to be more precise) to Gran Canaria to start a new life and 10 years later only thing I can say is that I’m rather privileged and grateful for having found it and for still going strong. 

There are no regrets. None whatsoever. In fact, all along, I have always felt it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life, next perhaps to the one I have made 10 years later when, just recently, a bit over a month ago, I decided to make a move from IBM after 17 years of service in three different countries: The Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. Interestingly enough, I have always felt a rather close connection with Ireland myself, even more so when I spent a year over there in Dublin on an assignment for some project work I did back in the day. There are just so many things that I truly heart from that country, so when I decided I was moving back home from The Netherlands, I knew I would have to pick up a special date. One that I would remember forever with plenty of fond memories all around. And that date chosen is St. Patrick’s Day. 

Throughout the whole day I’ve been having lots of really good friends congratulating me and wishing me well for my birthday. I guess I have been a little bit of a naughty boy, because it’s actually not my birthday today. It was already in February (Another fellow Aquarian, I know, hehe), so I lied on the Web 🙂 

On most social networking tools out there where I keep getting asked about my date of birth for my profile I never put my real one, since with it and a couple of other pieces of data, it’s relatively easy to impersonate someone. I mostly put the year I was born next to March 17th, perhaps more than anything else, because when I came over here it all felt like I was being re-born again, so what a better tribute one could pay to such a special date than to celebrate it as if it were your real (Internet) birthday, right? 

For all of those folks who have been sending along their kind and best wishes I would want to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for making this day even more special. For helping me get a reminder of what it was like moving over here, to Gran Canaria, to begin everything again from scratch. 10 years later, I am only now just getting started, although it feels like I have been living over here forever. It’s not there just yet. It’s the second longest place I have ever lived in, apart from my family place, back in mainland Spain (León). So it does feel like I have been here for a long long time. 

And, of course, it was time to celebrate such milestone, don’t you think? Well, that’s exactly what I have been doing whole weekend long, including today!, of course 🙂 by spending most of the time visiting one of my favourite places on the whole island: Puerto de Mogán, to just be reminded, once again, why I moved over here 10 years ago: 

Those of you who may have visited Puerto de Mogán at some point in time would know, and probably agree, what a stunning place that little fishermen’s village is to not only just walk out and about, but also to enjoy some stunning scenery that can be, if anything, rather breath taking: 

But not only that. Little Venice, as it is very well known for, has got a lot more to offer, like rather long walks along the harbour enjoying spring in full bloom in almost every single corner of the village making it a true pleasure for your eyes and your sense of smell to be taken away while the rest of the senses are just getting started to experience beauty and charm in equal doses: 

And, finally, the last stroll along the beach that acts as a clear reminder as to why I felt in love with Gran Canaria 10 years ago and why, 10 years later, it is just as strong as ever! Yes, it probably doesn’t get any better than this: 

I don’t know how much longer I may be living in Gran Canaria. Only time would know for sure, perhaps different various circumstances as well, I guess. At this point in time, I am taking each year as another gracious gift that I have been given without asking for anything in return and, as such, the only thing that I have got left is to write down this blog post as a token of immense gratitude for having Gran Canaria make me feel right at home in paradise. Carpe diem, as some of you may be thinking about at this very moment. For me, it’s a sincere Thanks! for changing my life back 10 years ago and for continuing to do so today.

March 17th, 2014! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone and here’s to many many more years in paradise to come further along! And, remember, if you ever come over to Gran Canaria, get in touch. I would love to share with you all plenty of the hidden, golden gems this gorgeous island has got to offer to every single explorer

Me, included! 😀

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Finding Time to Reflect while on Vacation

Leon - CathedralOnce again, it’s been nearly a couple of weeks since my last blog post over here on The Perks of Being an Early Riser  and I am sure at this point in time folks out there may be thinking that, once more, I have failed to keep up with restoring my social presence as I mentioned on that last article. Far from the truth, I am afraid. Over the last few days I have been doing something that I have been looking forward to for quite some time and that it’s always something that I can never get tired of: Vacation. And this time around a very special kind of holiday, because it’s been a rather disconnected one, too! Not by choice though, although the world works in mysterious ways, so perhaps that was what I needed all along in the first place: a time to strike for “the best opportunity to take a step back, inhale, exhale, think about life, and ask: am I happy?

Indeed, every year, during the course of the summer I have been enjoying tremendously that pilgrimage back home to see my family in León, Spain, where I was born and raised, and catch up with them for a few days to see what they have been up to. And time and time again, it’s been a fun experience, specially, when this time around you try to explain to your mum what you do for a living and you realise that she has never seen, played, enjoyed the Web. Quite an interesting and thrilling challenge I would encourage you all to go through, if you haven’t just yet! 

Even worse when you try to show her what it is like from your laptop and there isn’t any ADSL or wi-fi around. Or you try to show her on your mobile smartphone and tablet through a so-called rather robust 3G network and you see that it fails to keep getting connected to the point of embarrassment. And you eventually give up, because you know that so-called pervasive connectivity isn’t just coming around. Yes, indeed, someone had to say it out loud, I guess, there are parts in this world where broadband and the Internet are just … not … there! 

Goodness! I can’t believe that I am writing about this in 2013, where everyone keeps claiming that we are now more connected than ever before in our history through the (Social) Web, where wi-fi and ADSL lines are pervasive enough to make it an enjoyable experience and where, as a last resort, 3G may come to the rescue. Well, not really. Not everywhere as I have been able to experience fully in the last 10 days or so. And this is happening right here, in Spain, not some kind of remote island, in the middle of the ocean, where the 21st century may not have arrived just yet! 

See? Disconnected holiday not by choice, but then again perhaps it was better that way, because I had a real blast altogether! And for a good number of reasons, starting off with having an opportunity to do a proper catch-up with family and friends face-to-face and without any smartphone or tablet devices getting on the way. Never mind that wonderful opportunity as well to find plenty of time to pause and reflect wondering about things, in general, whether I have been enjoying work, my personal life, and so forth. You name it. It’s amazing to see how much one gets to think when you do have all of the time of the world without the so-called distractions we are all pretty familiar with. What Ted Leonsis brilliantly described on a recent article under the suggestive heading “Find Time to Reflect“.

Anyway, I am not too sure whether I eventually succeeded in explaining to my mum what I do for a living, or not, but I can tell you she was right on when she threw back at me a rather short, sharp question that I guess summarises everything and that it certainly puts things into perspective: “Are you happy, son? (Because that’s what really matters at the end of the day, you know)“. 

Whoahhh!! Mums are wonderful, aren’t they? They just know us inside out, and without having to say much, to find out really quick everything they would want to know and in just 4 words she was capable of detailing whether I am on the right track or not, and not just in my professional career, but also on a personal level. The intriguing thing is that I failed to utter some words as a response. Instead, I just got a huge smile coming across my entire face that she received warmly with a nod of approval and That’s all that matters, really, that you are happy with yourself and those around you and that you keep smiling. The world needs that, son“. 

You can see why I am getting goose bumps all over again as I get to write down those few words of wisdom, right? And she didn’t even need to be aware of what the Internet is or have access to it or for me to explain what I do for work. Some things are just so profound, so touching and mind-blowing altogether, yet so simple and uncomplicated that it’s incredibly difficult to not just feel overwhelmed by that feeling of immense gratitude. She has done all right with all of her children all along throughout all of these years. And me being worried all along about not being connected to the Web to be in the know and everything, when all I needed was just right in front of my face! Right there! How could I possibly miss that? 

I guess that’s what I meant earlier on in this post when talking about taking that disconnected holiday to visit my family and to pause and reflect on things, the smallest things, you know, the ones which seem to be the ones that keep driving us towards whatever our goals may well have been all along, but that, for whatever the reason, we may have deviated a bit in our directions and / or intent. I suppose that’s, amongst several other zillion things!, what mums are really good at over the course of time when they keep reminding you what you are here for in this world and everything, helping you focus on what you really need to focus on… those around you who you care for and … yourself.

In finding time to reflect Ted talks about several common steps that would surely help us all towards becoming happy and successful. To quote them briefly: 

  1. “Goal-Setting
  2. Communities of Interest
  3. Personal Expression
  4. Gratitude
  5. Empathy and Giving Back
  6. Higher Calling”

It is a rather fascinating and inspiring read all along for sure and I highly recommend going through it, specially, if you are still enjoying some time off and could do with some additional hints & tips on what that thinking time could be like. I can tell you, after the 10 days I have spent back home, with my family, in mainland Spain, there are a couple of them that truly resonate with what I have experienced during that time: personal expression, gratitude and empathy and giving back, understanding fully that all of the above will eventually help me figure out the biggie, that is, the higher calling (Whatever that may well be, whenever … time will tell). 

Ether way, you can probably sense from this blog post how after that holiday break my batteries are fully charged, and ready for plenty more to come along! I will be back to work next Monday. That outrageous, heretic, corporate rebel optimist, that hippie 2.0, is back in full throttle and interestingly enough with a new focus (I told you, that thinking time was going to have its toll as well! hehe) that will start unfolding itself from next week onwards, when as an early riser back into the social grid, will start unleashing his personal expression. But for now, I thought I would share over here a couple of photos I had the chance to take as well of the town where I grew up back in the day… 

Leon - San Isidoro

Leon - Cathedral

Leon - San Marcos

León - Casa Botines

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On the Road Again, on Another Special Day

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 … 

 Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes

 Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo

 

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 …

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IBM Connect 2013 Highlights – Pardon the Interruption in Social Business – The Recording #ibmconnect

TroisLouie at #ibmconnect 2013 after "Pardon The Interruption on Social Business" breakout sessionA 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:

 

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!]

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IBM Connect 2013 Conference Highlights – Adoption, Adoption, Adoption! #ibmconnect

IBM ChampionsAs 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!

Always.

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