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My Week in Orlando, between Keynote, Open Government and the Clouds

By Andrea Di Maio | October 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

web 2.0 in governmentcloud

I am about to start what will be an exhausting but also very rewarding week at Gartner Fall Symposium in Orlando, FL. This is certainly our signature event, with over 7000 attendees, hundreds of sessions, and – for each of us analysts – quite a few session to present, panels to moderate, workshops to animate, and dozens of 1-on-1s lasting half an hour each with clients.

This year I am quite excited to have been chosen as one of the analysts who have designed and will deliver the opening keynote. This is quite an achievement for any analyst, and very much so in my case, not being a native US and having an Italian accent. It proves that Gartner is a truly global company, leveraging diversity and giving each of us an opportunity to shine.

It is funny if I go back to when I decided to leave the European Commission to join Gartner, and was overwhelmed by the number of incredible talents, the depth of conversations, the argumentative nature of most people, the culture based on challenging each other positions, and most of all the bottom-line-oriented American style in writing research and delivering presentations.

It felt so different from the politeness and political correctness of the environment I was coming from, when being straight was not an asset but a liability. I remember hours spent in polishing proposal or project evaluation reports where the independent evaluators had advised “this proposal is a joke” or “kill this project before wasting any more money“, to come up with sentences like “the consortium may wish to consider to reorient some of the project tasks“. At Gartner the first thing I was taught is that advice has to be clear, unambiguous and actionable. It took me some time to blend into such a different environment, but I guess that being on stage after our Head of Research, with great colleagues (and excellent performers) proves I did. Despite my accent and my first name, that still makes people think I am a woman (you should see the disappointment on the face of taxi drivers who pick me up at the airport when they see me rather than an attractive Italian lady show up…).

While for most of my colleagues on stage the keynote will be their first performance at Symposium, I will be already on stage – although a smaller one – during Sunday afternoon, with two different sessions.

The first one, at 1 p.m. at the Yacht & Beach Hotel will be about The Real Value of Open Government. I will share my views about how to make open government more relevant and sustainable, and how the perspective should shift from the organization to the employee.

The second one, at 4 pm, also at the Yacht & Beach, will be about Government Clouds Beyond the Hype: Public, Private, Both or None? I will try to shed some light on the confusion that still affect most conversations about what is the cloud, and what it is for, in a public sector context. There are plenty of other sessions during the week covering different aspects of cloud computing, and I would urge those who are interested to check the Symposium agenda.

On Monday, shortly after delivering the keynote (I will open with a quite intriguing, and real story, of government 2.0 that is worth listening to), I will join my colleague Jerry Mechling for a lunch session at the Yacht & Beach for our public sector clients about Balancing Cost Containment and Innovation Today: Does It Take More or Less Centralization? The idea is that each of us will take one side (pro-centralization and pro-decentralization) and debate in a point-counterpoint style, engaging the audience in voting for either position, as well as injecting suggestions and viewpoints for the discussion. I’m sure that’s going to be fun.

On Tuesday, another lunch session, but this time with three clients who will debate Open Government Plans—A Contradiction in Terms? My objective is to start from some of their experiences with collaboration environemnts or external engagement, and then move them gradually toward looking at the implication from an individual employee perspective, the dynamics between the IT department and the business, the blurring boundaries between personal and professional information.

Finally, on Wednesday at 9:30 am at the Dolphin Hotel I will run a 30 mins session Net IT Out: Community Clouds in Government, where I will summarize some of my points on cloud, and engage in Q&A.

All the rest of my time is already booked for 1-on-1s and client team sessions. As I said, it will be quite exhausting, but a good test for the next two Symposia, in Cannes and in Sydney, which are smaller but also quite engaging.

I am sure I will have lots of material to blog about, but I’m unsure whether I’ll have the bandwidth to update my blog or tweet. In any case, tweets concerning the Gartner Symposium will be tagged #GartnerSym.

Last point: for those of you who come and see me, please do not be surprised if my clothing is a bit monotonous over the week: United Airlines cannot locate my lost bag yet 🙂

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