I give it a B+. That’s my initial reaction when people ask about my first trip to Enterprise 2.0. I always grade conferences based on my level of enthusiasm when I leave. I’ve been to some conferences that scored “C” or even lower. I once awarded an “A+” for the Second International World Wide Web (WWW) Conference back in 1994. I still have the T-shirt and, yes, I know it’s sixteen years old and should be in the rag bin.
Dozens of people have already blogged extensively about the E2.0 conference. Their articles range from overviews of the whole event to notes taken right on the spot during the conference sessions and keynotes. By and large they’ve done a much better job than I could, so I’m not going to waste precious keystrokes repeating them. I will, however, provide a list of some of my favorites at the end of this article. Instead, I’d like to entertain you with some thoughts about the “social” aspects of the conference. By “social” I don’t mean social networking or social media or even the very social IBM boat party which, I hear, was quite the event. I’m talking about how the leaders in the field of “social computing” – movers and shakers in the industry – act and interact when they are put in close physical proximity of one another.
First, let’s look at the demographics. While the ballrooms echoed with the term Millennials (another name for Generation Y), actual sightings were extremely rare. I would even say that the GenX-ers comprised only about 50% of the audience (if any of you have real numbers, I’d love to hear from you). The rest of us were Baby-Boomers or, as Rick Ladd so aptly named us, the BooMillennials – Boomers who adopt the best practices of the Millennials. What can we read into this? I can only speculate, but here are some possibilities:
- In these cost-constrained times, the older you are, the more likely you are to have a travel budget – or a huge number of frequent flyer points.
- Millennials don’t value physical conferences. They do all of their meeting online and create sardonic vlogs about the “old folks” who feel compelled to travel.
- Hopefully and importantly, there are a lot of Boomers who understand the value and importance of this new way of working. They recognize that organizations must evolve to embrace these tools and practices to invigorate collaboration and innovation. Fortunately, many of these BooMillennials have achieved positions of respect and authority in their organizations. They nurture the seeds of change.
My second “social” observation was the new dynamic of presentations. Up to now, presentations have generally been monologues. A panel presentation would be essentially a conversation of the elite. The occasional talented speaker or moderator could achieve some dialog with the audience. But the audience has traditionally been simply spectators to the event.
This time, things were different (bear with me if you are a member of the Twitterati and know all of this). The conference organizers had publicized the Twitter hashtag of #e2conf to create a way for attendees and other interested parties to share information. Anyone “following” the #e2conf hashtag in Twitter now had a constant stream of back channel information about the conference. This included those who weren’t physically attending (note the second bullet about Millennials above). “Sub-tags” soon emerged to allow followers to track specific sessions (e.g., #e2conf-11 was for session 11 about Enterprise 2.0 Value Propositions). This created parallel discussions during the breakout sessions and allowed attendees to get a sampling of the presentations they were missing.
Smart presenters monitored this information to know when they were effective and when the audience was bored, confused or had questions. The best presenters integrated the back channel into their discussions. Presentations became multi-modal. Conversations within conversations. Instant feedback. Cross-referencing with people in other sessions. I’m not sure I’d call this social computing at its best as there were some downsides (more on this in a future blog about what I call “Meerkatting”). But I do think it shows how use of the tools can create new dimensions of communication and collaboration.
Finally, I think it’s fascinating that, given the power of all the tools available to the attendees – the elite of the industry, we chose Twitter and blogs as our common medium for collaboration. This bears some consideration for Enterprise implementations.
By the way, old-fashioned conversations were just as popular. Old-fashioned business cards were everywhere – though most had a Twitter address in addition to phone and email. Old-fashioned meals and cocktails were still shared. This is good. In my opinion, the old ways are being enhanced rather than replaced.
As promised, here’s a list of some excellent links about the conference
- From Paige Finkelman’s Official Enterprise 2.0 Conference blog
- You can check out all the keynotes on E2TV (simply register and you’re all set)
- Our very own Alex Dunne played paparazzi throughout the event – check out his photos here
- You can download all the presos from our keynoters & sponsored sessions here
- Over 65 pieces of news & coverage came out of the event, and 100 members of the press and media attended the show
- Press releases, including exhibitor announcements, rolled out strongly throughout the week
- An excellent overview by Nigel Fenwick of Forrester Ten Tips From The Enterprise 2.0 Conference
- V Mary Abraham has an amazing knack for capturing salient points. Read her blog starting with A Letter to Steve Wylie and working backwards to Learn from the E2.0 Vanguard -Part 1. Pair these up with the relevant presentations
- Blog from John Mancini on Andrew McAfee Keynote — 4 Key Enterprise 2.0 Tensions…. The video of his keynote is a must see.
- Bill Ives blog starting with Enterprise 2.0 Value Propositions: My Enterprise 2.0 Conference Notes and working backwards. You’ll find 8 articles about the conference.
- Nice blog from Thomas Vander Wal debunking some of the “echo chamber” myths permeating the conference 5 Enterprise 2.0 Myth Mantras that Must Die
- Sameer Patel with a great overview and excellent insights Enterprise 2.0 Prepares for Relevancy
- Keynote – JP Rangaswami, CIO and Chief Scientist, BT Design
- Keynote – The Human Network @ Work – Murali Sitaram and Jim Grubb from Cisco. It is mostly about Cisco’s new products but most attendees were excited by the new vision it introduces.
- Keynote – The State of Enterprise 2.0 – Andrew McAfee, the “father of Enterprise 2.0”
- Keynote – Innovation Through Enterprise 2.0 – Gentry Underwood of IDEO. Cool ideas from a cool company.
- Keynote – Flip – Bevin Hernandez from Penn State. User adoption and results! One of the best speakers at the conference.
- Keynote – Enterprise 2.0 in an Age of AND not OR – Vinnie Mirchandani from Deal Architect, Inc. As a Cisco employee, I like the way this echoes John Chambers refrain about “the power of ‘AND’