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!
On 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!]
Not long ago I mentioned over here in this blog how one of the many reasons why I went through that extended blogging hiatus towards the end of 2012 was due to a rather intense business travelling schedule that took me on a tour of several different European countries to participate, as a speaker, on various conference events, customer meetings, enablement workshops and so forth. Intense is probably the right word to describe what it was like, but another one that I can think about would be memorable. I do have, indeed, plenty of fond memories about the vast majority of those events, but if there is one that has got a special place in my heart is that one event that kicked off last year and which raised the stakes incredibly high on its first edition to the point where it will always be in my thoughts not only because of the tremendously energising vibe it had all around it, throughout, but mainly because of the amazing experience of attending, speaking and participating in an event like no other in search for something that I am starting to feel we need nowadays more than ever: Meaning.
Of course, I am talking about the Meaning 2012 conference event that took place in Brighton, UK, on October 1st and that three months later I am still remembering it as it were just yesterday. What an amazing event! Not only was the quality of the agenda and speakers top notch (I had the privilege of being one of them giving me a unique opportunity to continue learning from the greatest and the most unexpected), but the atmosphere around it was just electrifying and incredibly energising. The amount of hard work and the dedication to make things right, the incredibly warm sense of hospitality we enjoyed while in there, and the humanity shown throughout the entire event by folks, now really good friends, like Will McInnes and Lou Ash, along with the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, was absolutely a pure delight. Something other conference events should mimic and learn from a great deal! And all of that on their first edition!
There have been several different blog posts, articles, references, highlights shared across by a good number of folks who attended the event, which have made it quite a rewarding experience going through as I am writing down this blog entry, remembering the wonderful event that we got exposed to over the course of a single day and, most importantly, the sharing of some of the most brilliant ideas we got to exchange and share openly not just from the speakers themselves, but also from people attending the event live with all of the networking that went on and on and on. A delightful experience all around!
That’s why I couldn’t help resisting the urge to create this blog post where I could point folks to the recordings of the various different speakers, which you can find them all right over here, so that you could have a look and go through each and everyone of them. At your own pace, whenever you would want to. They are all worth it. Big time.
As usual, and like I have been doing over the last few months, I did a bunch of live tweeting from the event itself as well, and I then captured all of those annotations into a .PDF file that I uploaded into my Slideshare account for folks who may be interested in reading further what it was like experiencing the conference live. The direct link to it can be found over here. And here’s the embedded code in case you may want to flip through the pages as we speak:
I had the privilege as well of being the last speaker of the day, wrapping up what was quite an amazing day that would be rather tough to forget in a long long time. Of course, I talked about one of my favourite topics from over the last 5 years: Living “A World Without eMail“. This time around expanding further on the notion of what a collaborative future may well look like and hold up for us with the emergence of social software tools in the corporate world. I got to talk about plenty of what I have been learning in the last 5 years after I started that movement, back in February 2008, which reminds me that we are getting close to that 5th year anniversary, where I have got a couple of lovely surprises packed up that I am sure folks who have been following this initiative all along would find rather interesting and surprising. But more on that later on…
For now, I thought, as a teaser, as perhaps an interim update from my last blog article on the subject (Yes, I know! I am long overdue an update on how things have been moving along, aren’t I? Well, coming up shortly!), I would go ahead and share the link to the recording over here, so that those folks who may be interested in the topic (It lasts for a little bit over 17 minutes), can have a look into it and watch at your own pace. I’m sure it will evoke a good number of questions and additional insights that I am more than happy to entertain and facilitate on the comments section below, so feel free to chime in as you may see fit, and stay tuned for that upcoming update on the progress report of what it has been like living ”A World Without eMail” in the last 12 months. Oh, and don’t worry, it’s not going to be as massively long as the last one. That’s where one of the surprises would kick in eventually … hehe
Here we go:
Hope you folks would enjoy watching through it, just as much as the huge blast and true honour I had myself on stage delivering the speech. The vibe in the audience was something that will be very hard for me to forget. Ever. And for that I am eternally grateful to both Will, Lou and the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, for their kind invitation and for making of Meaning something that I can just define with a single word: special! … [Truly special]
An enormous thank you, indeed, to everyone involved in making it happen!