If software is taking over the world, as Marc Andreessen famously says, then you have to really pay attention to the quickly shifting business trends these seismic digital cultural changes produce to stay ahead in your specific game. It's been a long strange trip in the collaborative software world keeping abreast of trends, from the groupware and real time communication focused conferences of the pre web 2.0 past to the innovation driven business transformation visions fashionable today.
The video above is a conversation with Paige Finkelman, general manager of the E2 conference, about the direction of her event and the value it provides to an increasingly overwhelmed business world. The sheer volume of information to be digested around digital possibilities is an ever increasing challenge: the 'clock speed of business' as Jared Spataro of Microsoft Sharepoint put it to me last year, is speeding up…and those who aren't paying attention to momentum shifts run the risk of being isolated on outmoded technology islands.
During the 2.0 technology boom we had rich cross pollination of open source ideas and technologies, and the associated conferences of the era were particularly rich in collaborative debate and the spirit of collective crowd sourced ideas. Today we're living in a world of messaging increasingly dominated by large software vendor broadcasting and tireless individual self publicists rolling up and selling mostly preowned ideas. The result is ever more marketing communication messaging to wade through and decipher with reality checks, and an avalanche of books and webinars peddling all sorts of ideas, both credible and not so much.
The spirit of Enterprise 2.0 was born out of operational people in companies bravely breaking free from the constraints of clunky enterprise software by experimenting with Web 2.0 Software as a Service technologies and new fangled smartphones, often at great personal career risk. That era is now ancient history of course, with the Enterprise 2.0 conference doing its part over the last four years to give birth to the 2.0 technologies tsunami, which in turn evolved into 'social' prefixes on everything as concepts became widely understood and applied. Software vendors co opted operational business concepts and attempted to sell them back in packaged digital formats to the people who had participated in creating them, resulting in the current glut of very similar technologies.
The E2 conference is now a more nuanced, complex nexus that aims to tie together the rapidly mutating and expanding new worlds of mobile, data, analytics, cloud services and the all important improved user experience and design. E2's unique value proposition aims to touch on all these components at an enterprise level and provide a powerful bi annual moment in time that educates, informs and takes stock of where we are.
With the huge amount of real time information available to us online there's still a place for the hallway conversations and meetings of minds that conferences provide - tech conferences keynotes are often vendor/sponsor droneathons but value is typically found around the edges.
There's no question though that conferences need to be every more focused and on point if they are to provide actionable, tangible usable value for participants in a very tight economy. Context is king in our complex world and finding it is always illuminating. The next E2 conference is in Boston, June 17-19 2013, and some content from previous events are on the website.
Disclosure: I've been on the advisory board of this event for the last four years, run tracks and workshops at the live event and participated in webinars