I just came back from the E2.0 conference in Boston which as usual was a fantastic gathering of really great and smart people. I arrived late Monday evening and had meetings pretty much all day on Tuesday. I had the opportunity to attend a few sessions on Wednesday and made sure to get plenty of updates and insights from other attendees. I met with most vendors to get updates on their products and services and also attended plenty of after conference events hosted by companies such as Newsgator, Acquia, and Adobe.
Here are my observations:
- I was once again one of the youngest people in attendance and most of the speakers were also much older. Nothing wrong with having an older crowd but most of them are 20+ year veterans in various fields which means they have learned to do things as they were accepted and taught 20+ years ago, some have adapted, many have not. It would be great to see some younger speakers talk about how they are involved with social and collaborative technologies and hear their “out of the box” thinking and ideas which are not influenced by 20+ years of prior experience. Not because one is better than the other but because it’s always good to hear multiple perspectives.
- Many of the smaller vendors are starting to disappear. I can’t recall who exactly but it appears as though this year most of the sponsors and vendors in the exhibit hall were the large enterprise collaboration vendors such as Microsoft, Jive, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Avaya and others. It was great to see some of the smaller-team companies represented such as Podio and Socialtext.
- While the sessions were interesting I found that it was difficult to take back tangible pieces of action back to the workplace (was told this from multiple people). The discussions were of course very thought provoking but in terms of “what do I do when I get back to work?” content, or perhaps some models or frameworks – this I thought was a bit sparse.
- I didn’t attend the workshops but from what I was told they ended up being longer versions of presentations and attendees would have loved to see more participation and action on their part to actually “do things.”
- Andrew McAfee did perhaps one of the best jobs moderating a panel that I have ever seen. He questioned and challenged every single panelists and wasn’t scared to say he disagreed or thought that what the panelists was saying was ridiculous. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the panel especially since people disagreed with each other.
- There is definitely still confusion around the terms: social business, enterprise 2.0, enterprise social software, emergent social software, social computing, enterprise collaboration, and social media. In working on my book I also found that I started using many of these terms interchangeably, something I’m sure the McGraw Hill editors will have me fix!
- All of the vendors at the conference are converging to have the same feature set, the same functionality, the same look and feel and UI. I feel as though vendors could do more to innovate and differentiate themselves from one another. Two companies which I feel are doing this are Podio and Harmon.ie (check them out to see what I’m talking about). Aside from that, going from one vendor to another felt like I was looking at virtually the same product with a different skin.
- Whatever you want to call “this,” (social business, enterprise 2.0, emergent social software, etc.) it’s quite clear that organizations are taking it seriously. Some of the world’s largest companies were in attendance to learn and share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences around collaboration.
I had a great time at the event and am looking forward to the Santa Clara conference happening towards the end of this year. Did you attend the conference? What did you like or dislike the most about the event, curious to hear your thoughts and perceptions on the event.