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By Whit Andrews | September 20, 2008 | 2 Comments

Gartner conferences make me so proud.

The Portals, Content and Collaboration conference — the fifth of its kind — just finished in Los Angeles. I planned it with my co-chair, Carol Rozwell, who recently joined the collaboration team and is turning in a stellar performance in e-learning, a passion for her.

Carol and I started planning for this during the fourth PCC conference, last spring. She took the brunt of the work more than once, and I did my best to keep up my side, as we traded workload back and forth during the year.  She took responsibility for the keynote, in particular, which she delivered with Tom Austin and Mark Gilbert, whose Lego pictures — included here is “software stacks in the cloud” — were vivid, evocative, and witty. That’s a tough combination and a reflection of visual simplicity that I think would serve Gartner well in many conferences (and maybe even track sessions, dislocating though that notion might be).

Legos in Cotton -- "The Cloud"
Legos in Cotton -- "The Cloud"

So, now, I thank Carol for being a better half to me professionally, the good cop to my frequently bad cop. Would that I had more time to detail the things she did.  I’d try to single out others, but I am afraid I would forget some, or otherwise ill-serve them, if I tried to be comprehensive.

Instead, let’s look at a few people. Our management was willing to be deeply involved in the process, including Jamie Popkin, Jim Lundy, Regina Casonato, Anthony Bradley and Gene Phifer. (Gene, in particular, gave us the use of his full staff to support the conference, including the supernaturally popular portal presentations.) Jim and Jamie in particular had the idea of including well-known educational theorist John Seely Brown and then Jim had the connections to make it possible for us to have him, despite his spectacularly busy schedule. We hope he’ll be back for more Gartner conferences. They backed our choice of movie man Michael B. Johnson, a Pixar collaboration guru whose material included spectacular bits like “screen tests” for Pixar characters and storyboards for recent movies like Wall-E. They helped us bring in contrarian Larry Sanger, a Wikipedia founder and deep thinker about authority and credibility in networked environments. And they helped us navigate the sea of deadlines and collaboration peacefully.

No thanks can compensate the staff of the Events team, or our product manager Beth Ranney, sufficiently. We analysts strut around in suits and dresses (rarely at the same time) and take advantage of their grace and snack baskets. (Right behind the one-on-desk. Mmm, granola bars.) No gratitude could be enough for their work, for the IT department’s work, for multimedia artists like the tireless Adam Tinkoff. The sales guys are sick busy. Already they’re signing the vendors for next time — I know, I attended the afternoon meeting where we started to pitch newcomers.

My deepest gratitude, though, goes to two groups: the Other 16 analysts — Carol, Tom, Mark, and the broad team of analysts who agree to work on presentations, case studies, analyst-user roundtables and similar client “deliverables,” if by deliverable we mean heart-and-soul burning work to provide meaningful, actionable information. These analysts volunteer to come. They don’t have to leave their comfy home offices, but they choose to, thanks to their passion for what they do and for the client service they provide.

The other group? The attendees who take so much of their time to come listen, to meet each other, to provide a milling crowd of wisdom that benefits us all. Every attendee I met had a story, shared the story, and made a difference.

It was a wonderful conference. Thanks to everyone. Thanks, to everyone.

Comments are closed


  • Rita Knox says:

    This gives me a great sense of the conference I missed. and useful links. glad to hear it was such a success

  • jmann says:

    If attendees had half as much fun, or learned a quarter of what I picked up as an anayst, I think that they will be well-satisfied.
    Well done, Whit.