Enterprise 2.0 conference is an important event for anyone interested in how social technologies fit into the enterprise. But I heard enough criticism this year that it's worth discussing what can be done about the perception that the event was a bit heavy at times on vendor messaging.The
Dion Hinchcliffe calls the Enterprise 2.0 conference a "must attend" event in the enterprise social software space. That's true. And we agree that it comes down to the people who attend.
"... If there is someone you'd like to catch up with or get to know in the Enterprise 2.0 community, this just about the best place to do it, since virtually everyone in the industry will be there. And it's not just well-known bloggers. Real live practitioners who are implementing E2.0 are in attendance more than any other event I know of. Or perhaps you'd like to catch up with a particular E2.0 vendor. There's a very good chance you can talk to the actual founder or product manager of your favorite enterprise social tool or service; a great many of them will be on the show floor, on panels, or roaming the halls. The informal Enterprise 2.0 "lobby-con", the endless parade of well-known faces in the main foyer outside the conference area, is also invariably both amazing and useful. It's a literal who's who of the E2.0 industry. Last but not least, this year's outstanding speaker list stands on its own. In the end, half the value of the conference -- in my book anyway -- is because of who is attending that you can actually meet and speak with."
But why such vendor focus?
Hinchcliffe said in one of the last sessions of the conference that there are more than 200 vendors in the Enterprise 2.0 space. He said that this vendor rich environment was apparent at the conference.
That may be a big part of the dynamics in play. Vendors come to an event like Enterprise 2.0 because they know that it is the event to attend.
The antidote may just be actual practitioners. It's not unusual for young markets to have too many vendors compared to the actual number of users. As more practitioners enter the space it's our hope that there will be more reasons for the discussions to be more thoughtful.
SXSW, for instance, gets a heavy influx of vendors but the users are so numerous that the event just brims with conversation.
It's wrong to say that there was a void in discussion at the conference. The people who organize the tracks for the conference do a fantastic job. There were plenty of very happy attendees who came away feeling like the event was useful and very much worth attending.
The people who work for vendors are smart people. They add an important element to the Enterprise 2.0 conference. Our only hope is they learn that a keynote will be remembered far more for the discussion that it provokes more than the demo they do of their newest product.