This past week, I had the pleasure of attending – for the third time in a row – Enterprise 2.0 Conference here in Boston, MA. Some seriously amazing talent comes together each time the conference is held here in Boston, as well as on the west coast in sunny California. I’m truly honored to be a part of the conference, and have the ability to chat with such forward thinking people.
I love this conference for a multitude of reasons, but primarily it’s the face-to-face interactions and the real-life case studies and stories that get me excited every year. Why? First off, I love meeting the folks that I've chatted with all year long on various social networking sites, including my 2.0 Adoption Council colleagues, and it’s truly like getting together with a bunch of old friends, sharing stories, drinking beers and just generally talking about whatever’s on our minds.
Speaking of The 2.0 Adoption Council, here’s a fabulous photo of a bunch of us after dinner on Wednesday night, graciously borrowed from our fearless concierge, Susan Scrupski, who was also brave enough to host a workshop with a bunch of us presenting, as well as an entire conference track. You can check out the presentations from the workshop we gave on SlideShare.
Secondly, the ability to hear what other companies are doing, what’s working and what’s not, how they’re handling challenges like getting folks to their communities, dealing with critics, increasing engagement, tackling that ever-challenging ROI question, and a multitude of other topics, is priceless. Whether you’re just starting your journey, or well into it like we are at EMC, this conference has something for everyone. A huge kudos to Steve Wylie, Super Woman Paige Finkleman and the whole cast and Advisory Board for another great conference!
Some quick observations around persistent themes:
- A lot of companies are seeing successful results by enabling their employees to connect and collaborate with one another in easier ways than they have previously been able to do
- A lot of companies are still trying to figure this out, and are interested in getting started – I met a lot of newbies at the conference, and it’s really great to see that there is still passion and enthusiasm for enabling employees to do their jobs better, faster and smarter
- There is quickly becoming a large group of us who are hungry for more information than just at the beginner level. We’ve been in this space for 4 years externally and 3 years internally at EMC, and I’m looking to take it to the next level. So are a lot of others.
- Lots of folks still seeming largely stumped by the ROI question. My answer – it’s a mix of both qualitative and quantitative measures. Separately, they don’t mean a thing, but together, you can highlight savings, efficiency, and the power of networking and collaboration, so that it’s no longer a question of whether or not it’s providing tangible business results.
- There is clearly a need for conferences like Enterprise 2.0 to bring together the folks that are trying to make this stuff work in their organizations – both business and IT folks.
As I mentioned before, we’ve been doing this for a long time at EMC, longer than most, in fact, and I’ve been in the thick of it the whole way through. Here are some things that would take the Enterprise 2.0 conference to the next level for me (I also shared this feedback with the crew at the wrap up Town Hall session on Thursday afternoon):
- More practitioners and their case studies – I love the knowledge that the high caliber consultants bring to the table, but I also want and frankly need to hear from people sitting in the same seat I am. I think there is a healthy place for both consultants and practitioners, and I just want to ensure we don’t lose sight of that as we move towards the future.
- I totally get the fact that vendors need to make money, and showcasing their products at a conference like Enterprise 2.0 is one way to do that. That said, I do not want to see vendor demos in the Keynotes portion without a bit of thought leadership thrown in the mix, as well. Tell about your product, but also tell me how it addresses my pain points, and the pain points of my people, my organization. Don’t just walk me through screens and show me clicks. I want to know that you understand me and can help me.
- I’d like to see differentiation between levels of expertise (or put another way - your place in the journey) for the sessions – nothing to scientific, just a bit of differentiation with case studies at each level of companies considering or that have already implemented some type of offering to their employees:
1. Beginner – Thinking about Enterprise 2.0 tools, but haven’t implemented? Thinking about how to make the business case? Thinking about how to get started? Thinking about planning for staffing, metrics, community managers, roles and responsibilities, etc? Just implemented within the past 6 months and still getting things moving?
2. Intermediate – Implemented more than 6 months ago, but still working to move things forward in your organization? Interested in adoption ideas? Interested in dealing with critics and naysayers? Interested in identifying and tackling under-penetrated pockets within your organization?
3. Advanced – Implemented more than a year or two ago? Interested in sustaining the vibrancy, momentum, adoption and engagement in your community?
- There was mention of including industry information for sessions, and I agree with this – it’s helpful to know what companies in different industries are doing, especially in highly regulated industries.
- More time for Q&A in all sessions – I can’t tell you how many times a session went on with folks talking, talking, talking, and then someone looked up and “Oops. Looks like we’re out of time for questions.” That’s a real bummer, and frankly, quite a loss. After all, aren’t we there to learn from one another? I know I always have questions at these sessions, but there’s never enough time baked in for audience questions. I’d like to see sessions planned with half the time for the presenters/panel/whatever and half the time reserved for audience questions. And I'd really like to see speakers stick to this format.
- Finally, I need to see a coming together of the internal E 2.0 worlds and the external social media worlds. As I said in the Town Hall, there are many people like me who have an identity crisis and are tasked with further both internal E 2.0 initiatives, as well as further external social media and community initiatives and awareness. I'd like to see those worlds beginning to come together, and I think we have enough folks focusing on both that it would be a worthwhile endeavor to include a social media track in coming years.
Overall, a fantastic conference, and by far, one of my favorites every year. In fact, I’d say, even if you can’t afford the full pass – get the free Expo pass and come network with folks at the conference. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.