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Conference wrapped, and I’m back home…

May 17, 2009

It’s Sunday, and I’ve finally slept off the result of Friday night’s red eye flight home.   As an infrequent traveler, I stand in admiration of those who criss cross the world, showing up with their ‘A game’ after hours in a confined space that can rumple one’s clothing, constitution, and psyche in equal portions.

Thursday’s sessions were generally very good – Sean O’driscoll’s keynote was great.   He shares years of experience and insight with humility, and a healthy measure of humor.   Presentations by RightNow, SalesForce, and Omniture demonstrated the power of integration and the kind of business intelligence that can be extracted from community, as well as the power to integrate with call centers and internal knowledge bases to deliver an excellent experience.   A community can add value to almost any business, but that value is dramatically increased as it becomes a more integral part of business operations from product design, to customer self service, and even empowering customers to do the marketing and selling for the company.  

Thursday night it was off to the ballpark to watch the SF Giants battle the NY Mets.    This was my first, in person, MLB experience and it certainly felt very different that watching the Durham Bulls at home.   There are points to be made in favor of both minor and major league ball for the kind of performances that one is likely to see, and I’m certainly glad for the experience.   Sitting in the stands, and listening to various levels of conversation and observing personal dynamics as people networked was pretty cool too.

Friday’s highlight was some demonstration of new features from the product roadmap in rough draft form.   The visions and directional statements of strategy were becoming tangible and demonstrable examples that will be shortly available to clients.  SaaS models are exciting to watch evolve.   The session wrapped with an hour long imagineering session led by the heads of product design and development – one leading the group, asking a series of leading questions to build group consensus and then narrow the focus on a particular area of the product to re-design.   In the space of 45 mins, with the head of design doing fantastic magic marker progressive wireframes on a half dozen posters, we concluded the session having just redesigned some key aspects of the way the product functions.  This was a great practical demonstration of co-creation.

Knowing a bit about the online personalities of some of the attendees, it was interesting to see how things played out in person.  What personality types were frequent contributors – asking questions, or interjecting opinions during the presentations.    My conclusion is that some personality types will be frequent opinion contributors in person or online.  

The conference was over by early afternoon, and most attendees left to catch early afternoon flights.   Having a late flight, I hung out in the lobby bar and worked remotely.  So doing, I was afforded the opportunity to catch up with Joe Cothrel and Matthew Lees for a short walking tour of some of San Fran, including a bit of Chinatown, and partake of a great dinner at one of Joe’s favorite haunts.   I’d read several of Matthew’s white papers including one on ROI, and so it was awesome to meet him in person.  I was honored they invited me to tag along.

The work week looms, along with a presentation I must make on Thursday to our SVP.   I’ve got a lot of charts, and a lot of stories I could tell – some which  now seem more or less relevant having come out of this conference.   What are leaders in other industries doing that I can borrow from?  What are the largest opportunities, and priority focus this year?  What investments are required?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    May 18, 2009 5:47 am

    Glad to hear it was a rewarding venture once again Mark. I’m safe and sound in Florida, after a long day (as most moving days are). Hey, you wanna bring me some Ping Pong on Tuesday? 🙂

  2. May 18, 2009 11:40 am

    mark, sounds like you walked away with a good experience and started the gears turning.

    A community can add value to almost any business, but that value is dramatically increased as it becomes a more integral part of business operations from product design, to customer self service, and even empowering customers to do the marketing and selling for the company.

    ever thought about starting an idea-based board where members could submit product designs and improvements?   i can point you to an outline for one if you’re interested. 😀 😛

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