The time period after an intense conference like Symposium closes down is always a bit strange for analysts. We inhabit an isolated world with the delegates, revolving around presentations, workshops, 1 on 1 meetings, receptions, meals and (usually not enough) sleep. It’s the same for attendees, but there are a slew of people making sure that analysts’ time is fully utilized. Attendees at least have the option, in theory, of staring off into space for a while if they want to.
That isolated word comes to a screeching halt when the last session ends. Physically, the world inside the conference room disappears in a few hours. Workers start tearing down the show floor and some of the conference area even while the last presentations are being delivered. By early afternoon, the site doesn’t look the world we’ve come to know so well for the last four days. From having every minute planned and parceled out, having two hours with nothing specific to do before my train leaves is an odd experience. That’s when I take the chance to stare off into space for a bit. The view from the Croisette is really quite nice, it turns out.
Aside from the normal questions about vendors and best practices, I was surprised by the number of organizations looking to take advantage of new vendor dynamics to shake up the hold that they perceive that Microsoft and to a lesser extent IBM has over their collaboration strategies. They welcome the advantages of integrated offerings and upgrades with more functionality, but dislike the idea that they have no choice but to stay with their incumbent vendors. I think the traditional titans could be in for a surprise when they see the number of organizations seriously looking at Cloud computing as a way to shake up existing relationships, and taking steps to understand which parts of their collaboration lineup can be commoditized and federated.
As conference chair again this year, it was gratifying to see that some of the changes we made this year went well. We continue to see more senior executive attendees, which is reflected in the CIO track. We dramatically increased the number of workshops and roundtables, most of which were well-attended. Several analysts and about 20 attendees were actively tweeting, with about 200 messages per day. Scheduling the analyst keynote on Monday afternoon to give attendees the option of arriving on Monday morning seemed to go over well. The stormy weather on Monday morning was not very welcome, but there’s not a lot we can do about that.
Right now, several analysts are on their way to Tokyo for the Japanese Symposium. I have started the trip to Australia for the event there to be held next week. I expect these to be just as intense.