A Letter to Steve Wylie

Dear Steve:

Let me begin by thanking you and your team for organizing the 2010 Enterprise 2.0 Conference.  Others told me time and time again that the E2.0 Conference was something I had to attend, and now I understand why.  As a first-time participant, I was delighted to find in one place so many leading thinkers and practitioners of the art of E2.0.   By the end of the conference, I felt as if I had been immersed in a rich, interactive educational experience, and for that I am very grateful.

My background is in knowledge management, which includes in its arsenal a key technique for knowledge sharing and education called the after action review.  (The purpose of the after action review is to examine an event while it is fresh in our minds so that we see what lessons can be learned.)  In that spirit, I offer the following:

What worked well:

  • The people this conference attracts are phenomenal.  One of the greatest benefits of the conference is being able to hear first-hand from the leading thinkers and doers in this field.
  • The WIFI!!!!!  Thank you so much for taking the request for Wifi seriously.  It made a world of difference to those of us who were tweeting and live blogging the sessions.
  • The facilities accommodated the formal sessions well.  Better still, the scattered lounge areas ensured that the all-important hallway conference could take place in comfort.
  • Most of the sessions I attended were very good.  In particular, I’d mention the 2.0 Adoption Council‘s pre-conference workshop, which was terrific for its focus on the challenges of E2.0 adoption. (For more information, see my notes from the various 2.0 Adoption Council sessions I attended.)
  • There was a good range of sessions that covered a wide variety of interests and concerns.
  • Overall, the conference was very well organized.  I was unaware of any technical or scheduling glitches.
  • Thanks for making so many sessions free and open to all. The conference performs an important education and networking function, so it’s good to make its benefits available to as many as possible.

What could be done better:

  • Please return to the true meaning of a “keynote” address: something notable, exciting, memorable.  JP Rangaswami delivered a phenomenal, thought-provoking talk that I’m still pondering.  That’s exactly what I come to a conference like this to hear.  Unfortunately, not all of the keynote addresses were notable.  Even though some were mercifully quickly forgotten, I couldn’t help thinking that it was a terrible waste of the time and energy of some of the most interesting people in social media.  On top of that, there is something troubling about asking people to pay for the privilege of listening to substandard talks and sales pitches.  Time and attention are finite resources that shouldn’t be wasted this way.
    • Update:  A reader pointed out via Twitter that the keynotes were sponsor presentations because sponsors had paid for the privilege.  That’s very true, but that leads to my question: did the sponsors get their money’s worth when so many people checked out, tuned out or stepped out during their presentations? If sponsors really want that limelight, then they should deliver thought-provoking, crowd-rousing talks. I assure them that this approach will keep them (and, incidentally, their products) in the forefront of our minds in the best possible way. A case in point? While I was initially skeptical when I heard that Microsoft had a keynote spot,  I’ve found myself thinking and telling others about Christian Finn’s demonstration of the power of simple tools (e.g,, flip cameras) and viral internal marketing to build an impressive knowledge base and connect colleagues.  That’s front and center in Enterprise 2.0 and his presentation provided a great case study without any sales pitch regarding Microsoft products.  Nice. And, effective.
  • A little more breathing time between sessions would be wonderful.  All moderators I saw did a superb job of keeping the trains on schedule, but there was inevitably insufficient time to follow-up with a speaker or another member of the audience before racing off to the next session.
  • Given the richness of the sessions and the limited time available, I felt under pressure to choose sessions carefully.  Unfortunately, I didn’t always choose correctly because I didn’t have the necessary information beforehand.  It would be great if the program could be more like a college course catalog, with information regarding the expected experience level of the target audience of each session and the level of complexity of the planned discussion.
  • Consider offering different tracks for different audiences: those still learning about E2.0, those in the throes of implementation and early adoption, those who have mature efforts that they want to kick up into a higher gear, those in small and medium enterprises, those in the non-profit or governmental sectors, etc.  Each of these groups has  different experience levels and concerns. Each deserves sessions explicitly dedicated to their needs.
  • There were liberal helpings of “E2.0 kool-aid” offered (e.g., build it and they will come, you can’t measure the value of being social, forget the bean counters and focus on the little people, etc.).  It would be good to offset this with even more hard-hitting critical thinking that arms conference attendees so that they can go back to their organizations and make arguments in favor of E2.0 that are more effective because they encompass both the quantitative and the qualitative.

Once again, thank you for a terrific conference.  The high caliber of the people who participated is a testament to the great reputation this conference has earned.  I now understand perfectly why Thomas Vander Wal said  “It is one of the few conference I still won’t miss.”


[Photo Credit: LarimdaME]

5 thoughts on “A Letter to Steve Wylie

  1. Thanks Mary! And thanks to @Crowdcast and our member Sam @Driessen for the “contest” for the free pass, eh? How about some link love for the Council? It was terrific to meet you in person. I look forward to seeing you every year from now on! #yam

    1. Susan -It was great to meet you and your 2.0 Adoption Council colleagues inBoston. What a terrific group! I'm hugely grateful to Samuel Driessen, theCouncil and Crowdcast for making it possible for me to attend theconference. Without the pass, I couldn't have attend. Let's hope I havesimilar good fortune next year.Thanks for ensuring that E2.0 practitioners had some honest, informative andpragmatic sessions. It was great to hear from people who actually areputting these tools to work every day. As you probably gathered from myposts, I learned a great deal from the 2.0 Adoption Council sessions.As for link love? Done!- Mary

  2. As I slowly dissipate the heat I accumulated from this conference, I am very grateful for your participation. I am not (never have been) a note taker and it was all I could do to live tweet (struggling with the touch keypad on my iPad was no picnic either) during the sessions. Thanks to you, I now have access to lots of notes . . . not only for the sessions we attended together, but also those I missed. Like you, I'm not sure I made all the “right” choices for my needs. Thanks so much, Mary.

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