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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IBM Connect 2013 – Pardon The Interruption, Are You Ready?

Gran Canaria - Guayadeque in the WinterOn January 20th 1997, while I was holidaying in The Netherlands, I started my adventure into the corporate world with a new job at IBM, as a Customer Support Representative for the Mainframe. 16 years later that adventure continues, and big time!, still having just as much fun as I did in Day One. So much so that later on this week I will begin tasting the Joy of Business Travelling, once again, and that this year is going to take me to a good number of countries and continents I haven’t visited just yet, for which I am really excited about, as you can imagine. But, for now, I’m starting to get things ready for IBM Connect 2013, which kicks off on January 27th till the 31st, and which surely promises to be one of those events difficult to forget around the space of Social Business. Are you ready? 

Well, before you answer that question, and while you may want to go ahead and check out the superb agenda put in place, I would like to ask you to go and have a look into the wonderful short article put together by the one and only, Seth Godin, on the topic of “When a conference works (and doesn’t)“. What a delightful read packed up with plenty of helpful tips on how to build, perhaps, a new strategy, in case you haven’t done so in the past, when attending face to face conference events, like I am about to do later on this month. 

I thought perhaps for today’s blog post I would go ahead and highlight a couple of those tips that I thought would be worth while sharing across and which match, somewhat, some of my own experiences attending face to face conference events in the recent past. As a starting point:

[…] someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later […] In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will

Indeed, this is what I have been telling folks over and over again. Focus on the face to face conversations, the networking aspects of the event, specially, with those folks who 1. You may not know just yet, so you can keep expanding your network beyond your usual suspects or echo chamber(s) and 2. You may not be able to see them F2F again throughout the remaining of the year. Think of it as your last chance in the year to catch up with them F2F. Don’t waste that opportunity. Seize it and make the most out of it. The notes, and video streaming, indeed, you can always get them later. No doubt. The conversations, you won’t.

[…] If there’s vulnerability and openness and connection […]

This is something that I am going to be trying it out myself quite a bit in numerous other conference events this year, but certainly going to kick if off at IBM Connect 2013. Actually, not just me, but two of my co-presenters and myself, when on Tuesday 29th at 5:30pm local time, we will go up on stage to kick off our session on “Pardon the Interruption at IBM Connect 2013” around Social Business, Adoption Techniques, Enablement, Collaboration, Online Communities and Social Networking for Business in general. Perhaps even a bit on Open Business as well, why not? 

Yes, that will be the time when “The Three Louie” (Louis Richardson, Luis Benitez and yours truly) will throw themselves into the lions living through that vulnerability, openness and connection in chunks of 3 minutes at a time with whatever the question folks in the audience may well have around all of these topics related to social networking for business. We are currently gathering questions over in Twitter under #ptisocialbiz so if you happen to attend IBM Connect 2013 as well and have got a burning question you would want to share with us, drop it over there and we will grab it for the session. If not, take them with you and ask them live while we are all there. Perhaps even more fun to show how vulnerable we may all well be with the unexpected! After all, what are the chances for you to see The Three Louie on stage at any given conference event? It’s a rare occasion, I can tell you that, since it will be the first time we are all three on stage on the same session. That promises to be plenty of really good fun, I can guarantee you that! Even more if you look into the time of the day for our slot and what we may be bringing up with us along the way … ;-)

Following further along on Seth’s reflections about face to face events and how to get the most benefits from them, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the entire post: 

(At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support)

And you know why that happens in most cases? At least, in my own opinion? Well, mostly because, due to that competitiveness flair going around, people who attend face to face conferences don’t have a tendency to be generous on the information, knowledge and experiences they share. Quite the opposite. They are always a little bit reluctant to share openly what drives their passion, their interests and their motivation to attend the event, just because they feel they need to protect something: their selves. Well, not really. This is pretty much what I have been saying for years around the well known mantra of “Knowledge is power. Yes, it is, of course, it always has been and always will be. But make it square, please! It’s “Knowledge SHARED is power”.

Indeed, the more you share generously about what you are doing, what you know, what you are good at demonstrating your thought leadership, the much more powerful you become, because it’s that visibility at conference events that clearly highlights how you will continue to build those strong personal business relationships. So get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Throw yourself into the lions, once again, of those who are thirsty for your knowledge and share it across generously. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they now possess your knowledge? So what? You are the one who knows the most about that piece of knowledge or information in the first place and you would just need to remember that we, human beings, are just so bad in documenting and transferring our knowledge across through oral or written forms that no matter how much you share openly you would still be the one who knows the most about that particular subject. Always. Do remember the brilliant KM principles from my good friend Dave Snowden on Rendering Knowledge that would still apply and very much so. Don’t forget that tidbit that most people seem to ignore time and time again since they decide to go the easy way out: hoarding their knowledge. Don’t! Share it generously. For your own benefit and for the benefit of your networks. They will remember you for that. 

As Seth mentions in a rather smart and succinct manner on his blog post, you will become their hero because you have finally realised, at long last, you don’t have much to lose, but a lot to win. 


[Really looking forward to seeing everyone at IBM Connect 2013 and, please, don't be shy. If we bump into each other, say "Hi!". It's the greeting that kicks off the magic of serendipitous knowledge discoveries from conversations you may have with  your networks and other people!] 

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