By Doug Haslam
I had the pleasure of attending the Gilbane Boston conference on December 2nd. The topic? Content management, with “CMS” (Content Management System) and “WCM” (Web Content Management) being the magic TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for the day. While I am not deeply immersed in content management systems at the moment myself, the need to manage it is common, and the conference wasn’t a total nerd party (although you might consider it slightly nerdy that some of us were sneaking around trying to steal pictures of a lookalike for SHIFT client, Aaron Strout of Powered Inc). I came away with these few thoughts:
- Social Media is still a hot topic: People in technology silos aren’t simply sticking out their heads, acknowledging social media, and going back to the way they were. Social media informed every conversation, weaved into most very bit of technology, and was baked into many of the sessions (examples: “Driving Net New Revenue with Socal Media;” “Social Publishing and WCM;” “Social Media Solutions Enriched with Mobility”). People are intelligently finding ways to harness social media for content management and collaboration. It’s actually quite an interesting time for those in the space.
- Google Wave is (probably) not a fad: Just because most mortals can’t make heads or tails of Google Wave when they get in, IF they get in, doesn’t men people won’t take it seriously. Far too many discussions centered on Google Wave at Gilbane Boston to come away feeling dismissive. For example, the “Content Collaboration” panel with Bob Collins of New Marketing Labs, Andrew Davis of TippingPoint Labs and Chris Paquin of Sun Life spent a bit of time discussing potential uses of Wave, and the conference itself had a “Gilbane Boston” Wave (which I, of course, could not find). People want Wave to work for them. I suspect it will happen, and once Google Wave becomes a public product, it will look a lot different than it does now.
- The “Analyst Debate” was a dud. Well, not really; the participants, from 451 Group, Burton Group, Forrester, Gilbane, and IDC, said a lot of right-on things, such as the need for more globalization features for social media to work in larger companies, a healthy cynicism about the widespread adoption of Twitter (though I am not so cynical, I don’t think it is there yet), and the fact that younger people are leaving companies that don’t offer the requisite (to them) social tools. Other things said I wasn’t so sure about, such as the impression that there is a hard “age line” between the types of communications tools being used (do we risk mislabeling social media as a “Generation Y” thing?) Actually, the main complaint on the Twitter stream for the event was that the analysts were agreeing too much (moderator Frank Gilbane admitted as much at the end of the panel)- we wanted blood! That was OK in my opinion, if a little less fun. Ellen Rossano of Crisis Media Consultants, seated next to me, wondered if the analysts were talking in terms that were 6-12 months behind the curve. I wondered if they were behind the curve of early adopters, but still ahead of the curve of enterprise social media adoption. I wonder what others think.
One last bit: it’s great to get out there and learn. I think it’s vital to take time to read, interact, and participate. Reserving time for this and taking what we learn back to our client work makes us stronger and more successful.